Pretty much everyone now agrees that shutting down our schools during the covid epidemic, at the demand of teachers’ unions, was one of the most catastrophic policy decisions of modern times. As I have said before, it is unfortunate that some old and very sick people had their demises hastened by covid, but what government did to our children, for no good reason, was a crime.
Having skipped school for a year or more courtesy of the teachers’ unions, a great many kids have never gone back, at least not on a consistent basis. Why should they, once not showing up got the official OK? Alpha News has the distressing statistics for Minnesota. True, Minnesota is a deeply troubled state. But I doubt the numbers would be much different in other blue states:
The number of Minnesota students who consistently attend school has dropped by 15% since 2019, according to state Department of Education data released last week.
The annual North Star Accountability Report tracks “consistent attendance,” which is defined as the number of students who attend school at least 90% of the time and are not chronically absent.
So the state says you don’t have consistent attendance if you miss one day every two weeks, but of course, many of the kids we are talking about miss vastly more time than that.
Since 2019, the last time attendance data was released, the number of students with consistent attendance records has dropped from 85% to 69.8%, according to data for the 2021-22 school year.
So up to 30% of Minnesota’s kids are essentially part-time students. But it gets worse:
In Minneapolis, the number of students consistently attending school that year was just 45.8%.
When fewer than half of the students in a district–a large one, in this case–bother to come to school consistently, anything that government does, other than sending out truant officers, is utterly irrelevant. Minnesota Democrats demand (successfully) that every year, we spend more money on public education, which at this point is opulent, if frequently unsafe. But you can spend any amount of money, and it won’t help the kids–more than half, in failing districts like Minneapolis–who don’t even bother to go to school.
The fundamental problem is that public schools are not run for the benefit of students. They are run by the teachers’ unions for the benefit of the teachers’ unions. Vast amounts of money are allocated every year to compensate, in many cases extravagantly, not only teachers who don’t work full-time, but a rapidly growing cadre of administrators, DEI consultants, and above all, fat-cat union officials. The students are really an afterthought. And I can’t help wondering whether one reason why so many kids don’t even bother with “education” anymore is that they know they are an afterthought.
All of this is happening in the context of an education system in which more than half of all K-12 Minnesota kids can neither read nor do math at grade level. What we are witnessing is nothing less than a civilizational collapse that is brought about by insane, and often intentionally-destructive, left-wing policies.