Bad Takes, Ep. 6: Covid learning loss is real


Bad Takes, Episode 6: Covid learning loss is real

The data is in: America’s elementary school students have fallen behind during the pandemic. An annual study that calls itself the “nation’s report card” found that math and reading scores are down for 9-year-olds, compared with pre-pandemic levels. But according to Charles Fain Lehman, a policy fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, these historic declines are nothing to sweat.

“My guess remains that COVID learning loss will fade out, such that COVID cohorts will substantially resemble their pre- and post-COVID peers by the time they leave school,” Lehman tweeted shortly after the data dropped.

Matthew Yglesias and Laura McGann agree: This is a bad take. They argue that when the right says kids will catch up and the left says tests don’t matter, kids lose. But Matt argues the ideological fault lines on education policy have shifted, saying it was surprising to see a conservative deny covid learning loss. Laura explains the political stakes, driving each side’s narrative on education.

Suggested reads:


School Is for Wasting Time and Money, Bryan Caplan, the New York Times (a runner-up for this week’s “bad take”)

Students Are Learning Well Again. But Full Recovery? That’s a Long Way Off., Sarah Mervosh, the New York Times

The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading, Sarah Mervosh, the New York Times

How federal covid aid trickled down to Xavier’s classroom, Perry Stein, the Washington Post

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