I was recently enlisted to help create some visuals to help convey the concerning trend in math proficiency of Middle School students by a parent of a Montgomery County Public school student. I was eager to help, as this is precisely the data I believe was critical to have in order to make proper cost/benefit analysis of school closures and “hybrid” school.
Sadly, it was precisely the data we did not have, nor did there seem to be any major effort to collect this in real time as we were closing schools and disrupting student’s lives in the name of safety. The results, in a way, are not shocking. They ARE alarming and awful. But to the parents and students who were abandoned by public school leaders like those in Montgomery County Maryland, this was entirely expected.
This waiver seems pretty reasonable, as the 20/21 school year was fraught with disruptions, improvisation, and honestly abject chaos as parents scrambled to figure out how to deal with childcare, work, and remote school for their kids. Teachers were left with an almost impossible situation as well, and holding them accountable for something completely out of their control would have been completely unfair. Lets take a look at what the students, parents and teachers had to deal with over the last couple years.
Here’s a chart from Burbio tracking data showing the learning mode over the 2020/2021 School year for Montgomery County, MD. As you can see, not a single week of full time normal, In-person learning occurred.
Fast forward to fall 2021, the school district finally opened to in-person learning. However, over the winter of 21/22, Montgomery County Public Schools has had plenty of Covid-related disruptions. I went back to my previous analysis of Burbio data and sorted by School District to find that MCPS had 31 individual School disruptions in January. The means that of all the individual schools in the system, 31 either closed, delayed, or went to remote learning between January and February of this year alone.
Considering the scale of this unprecedented decline in Student Math proficiency, you would think this might be a major news topic for media or education journalists. Surely every parent would resonate with this story and would love to see what the school districts plan is to address this major learning loss.
Doing a simple Google News search for Montgomery County Public Schools will give you a sense of what the local press and MCPS public relations would like us to know about the goings on over the last school year (whether this relates at all to what real parents are concerned about or no is a different question). Perusing the headlines, you will find many mentions of Covid policies, anti-racism, trans-gender policies, and climate action.
To be fair, I did find ONE article that addressed the falling test scores from September.
I really cannot even begin to guess as to why there is a severe lack of media coverage on this issue right now. The school system has press release/media coverage on all the politically correct progressive issues being pushed by our media and government. Are these headlines and press releases coming from a place of genuine progressive commitment to fighting climate change, being inclusive of the microscopic percentage of kids with gender confusion, and anti-racism? Or are they perhaps a distraction from the reality that they do not want to face up to?
As we begin to look in retrospect at the biggest public health/ education policy failure in recent history, it will be important to methodically collect and compare education outcome data between the school districts who stayed open in person, and those who shut students out. The results should not be surprising – but we should do the work, study the impact- and hold the leaders who stood by passively allowing this to happen, while ignoring all the warnings.
The students, parents, and teachers of Montgomery County Public Schools have been dealt a bad hand and have been robbed of almost 2 years of quality education.
At some point, the people who did this have to face the music and come to grips with what Covid maximalist school policies have wrought. In this case: outright failure.
Josh Stevenson Josh lives in Nashville Tennessee and is a data visualization expert who focuses on creating easy to understand charts and dashboards with data. Throughout the pandemic, he has provided analysis to support local advocacy groups for in-person learning and other rational, data-driven covid policies. His background is in computer systems engineering & consulting, and his Bachelor’s degree is in Audio Engineering. His work can be found on his substack “Relevant Data.”
Best to go to the article. Especially the last twitter from Shanghi. Yes, its FOX News and Tucker Carlson, but get a grip and watch what is really going on. Caring American “stand with Ukraine”. Who will stand with Shanghi?
At the end of the Cold War, the end-of-history theory was that every country in the world that desired prosperity and progress would necessarily have to embrace both economic liberty and political democracy. You cannot have one without the other, the theory went. It was inevitable.
The world waited for China to go the direction of Eastern Europe and so many other countries.
It did not happen. Despite liberalizing economic reforms, the CCP maintained hard-core political control for the decades following. Yet its economy grew and grew. This gave rise to a new theory: perhaps the most successful countries will foster economic liberalism while securing tight political control, thus dispensing with the inefficiencies of democracy.
China seemed to have it all going.
Now we have evidence of what’s wrong with a one-party state with a powerful chief executive. It works until it doesn’t. What stopped working in China could not have been expected years ago. The party believed it had solved the problem of pathogens via massive violations of human liberty.
Today, the people of Shanghai are suffering weeks of lockdowns, food shortage, and extreme quarantine of healthy people, all in the interest of eradicating a virus that the rest of the world has finally realized must become endemic. Even Fauci is admitting this now (following two years of urging more restrictions).
But in China? Children are being taken from parents, the pets of people with a positive test are being shot, people are screaming from skyscrapers, and food is rotting in warehouses even as people report to be starving. There are videos online of stores being ransacked. There is talk of revolution in the air.
Never forget: China was the birthplace of lockdowns. The head of the World Health Organization praised the early 2020 lockdowns in Wuhan. In one letter dated January 2020, the WHO congratulated China and urged the country to “enhance public health measures for containment of the current outbreak.” Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus further underscored the point with a tweet.
Neil Ferguson from the Imperial College did too. “It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.” And so China became a model for the world: Wuhan, Northern Italy, the US, the UK, and then all but a handful of the countries in the world followed the lockdown paradigm.
To this day, Xi Jinping surely basks in the warmth of this glowing praise. It put China’s policy prowess on display for the world. As I write, Yahoo reports concerning Shanghai:
China’s President Xi Jinping praised the country’s “tested” zero-Covid strategy on Friday, even as Shanghai authorities prepared nearly 130,000 beds for Covid-19 patients amid surging cases and mounting public anger.
We can only intuit what is happening here. For Xi Jinping, lockdowns were his greatest triumph. They seemed to work two years ago. He earned plaudits the world over, and the world followed his model. Perhaps this filled him and the CPC with a sense of incredible pride and confidence. They had done it correctly and the rest of the world copied the idea, without having practiced the article of lockdown as perfectly as China.
What has happened now is as predictable as the failure of “Zero Covid” in Australia and New Zealand. This virus is not the type that lends itself to eradication. It becomes manageable only through exposure and recovery. As Vinay Prasad has constantly reminds us, everyone will get Covid. And through that path, we finally move beyond the pandemic.
What does it mean for China? It means that cases are nowhere near stopping. They will spread to every city, every town, every countryside until vast numbers of 1.4 billion are exposed. This could mean rolling lockdowns for years to come, along with all the damage and political instability that they necessarily entail. This will surely have a profound impact on economic growth and possibly the credibility of the CCP itself.
The communist party has made a profound error. Most places in the world did. The US was not Shanghai-level terrible but this is a matter of degree because the theory was tried out here too. In political democracies, politicians and bureaucrats have mostly tried to soft land their gross errors while manufacturing excuses for reopening without apology. Many want everyone just to forget this whole disaster.
Will that happen in China? The trouble is the incredible centrality of lockdowns to China’s perceived achievements over the last two years. So long as there are powerful people in Beijing who genuinely believe that lockdown is the path forward – and no opposition party in place to take a different point of view – this will likely continue, raising fascinating questions about the political and economic future of this country.
The magic combination of political and economic freedom turned out not to be the end of history. But China-style dictatorship is not the end either, simply because it contains no operational mechanism for the correcting of egregious errors. What saved the US from lockdown terror was political pluralism and federalism; China has institutionalized neither. Thus does intellectual error lead to egregiously immoral outcomes.
Jeffrey A. Tucker Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
Happy Monday C&C! I hope everyone had a blessed Palm Sunday, and we are now in the final approach to the most important Christian holiday of Easter — invoking the core Christian themes of rebirth and eternal life.
I have a terrific roundup for you today: lots on the unreported humanitarian crisis exploding in Shanghai; Musk backs off a board seat; more bad news for dems with significant defections and a faltering youth vote; Fauci says something remarkable; and the Times wants its reporters to stop tweeting and start reporting.
*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY*
🔥 Last week, Shanghai, China went into hard lockdown, what lockdown-lovers call a “real” lockdown. Home to 25 million souls, Shanghai is China’s premier city, its version of New York City, the communist nation’s showcase of Chinese technology, architecture, and most importantly, government. Last week, after watching cases escalate since March 1, the government imposed a set of strict lockdown rules that by the end of the week involved the city’s residents being locked — in some cases literally — in their apartments, unable to leave even for food or water.
Water is a particularly pressing problem, since the tap water in Shanghai is not fit to drink even after boiling due to the presence of heavy metals. Food can only be obtained through a phone app. The system of private suppliers broke down after only a few days, not least because of limiting rules and per-delivery testing requirements for delivery staff, and so the government took over midstream with an entirely new smartphone-powered food-delivery system. All residents must pay for their food, which when it is delivered is almost never what was ordered, but appears to be only what is available.
The lockdown rules are being enforced by soldiers from the ironically-named People’s Liberation Army, gangs of red-shirted “volunteers” who act more like roving brigands, and dystopian technology like drones with facial recognition that dock residents’ social credit scores and debit their bank accounts when residents are caught out on their balconies.
Widespread reports from Shanghai strongly suggest that large numbers of people are unable to reliably obtain food and water. In addition to being locked into their homes — in some cases physically locked in their buildings — residents are forced to exit whenever ordered for mandatory Covid testing. Those who test positive, including babies as young as one or two months old, are sent to prison-like quarantine facilities. Parents aren’t allowed to go with their quarantined children, no matter how young the child or infant might be.
Later in the week the government began seizing household pets, cats and dogs, summarily euthanizing animals whose owners are found Covid positive.
One horrifying video shows a poorly-trained government agent administering a Covid test to an infant, apparently penetrating the nasal cavity with the test stick too far, and the infant immediately dies. Other videos show government agents beating small dogs to death with their owners crying out for them to stop from behind locked apartment building doors. Another viral video showed sacks of house cats thrown into a garbage pile on the sidewalk, with many of the cats obviously still alive, struggling to move as best they could and mewing plaintively.
Shanghai residents are literally begging for food online. In this harrowing video, they can be heard screaming out of their windows:
Not just residents. US Marines. Yesterday, Reuters ran a story headlined, “U.S. Consulate Staff in China Help Marines Running Low on Rations.” According to Reuters, a U.S. consulate employee — acting in their individual capacity — posted this message to WeChat, the Chinese version of Facebook: “Marines have depleted their food and can no longer get delivery. I know we are all running short on supplies. If you can spare a meal’s worth or two for 7 extra mouths, they’d be very appreciative.”
(Staff responded with supplies, a person said in a later post, adding, “The marines are beyond thankful.”)
If US military personnel can’t get food, imagine what it must be like for an ordinary Shanghai resident.
But our revolting corporate media has — for some reason — completely blacked out the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Shanghai. All the news about what is really going on there comes from residents, including Americans and other foreigners. What little reporting our “gold standard” media has done only mentions the lockdowns generally, and unquestioningly repeats what looks very much like Chinese government propaganda.
For just one example, here is a picture in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, from an article bragging that Shanghai hasn’t reported any Covid deaths:
For Facebook users, who can’t see the picture, it shows a large semi-sized delivery truck in a street about 40 feet away from the back of a building. Between the truck and the building extend two lines of men in white hygiene suits, standing about a foot from each other, about 30 men in all. The men appear to be passing boxes of supplies down the line from the back of the truck into the building.
This is almost certainly a propaganda photo. You’ll get it instantly when I point it out to you.
Look again at what these dummies are up to. There’s PLENTY of room to back that truck up, right to the building’s rear entrance. THE ROAD GOES RIGHT UP TO THE DOOR. Hey morons, you don’t need 30 men. You only need TWO guys. But if the truck were backed up that far, then the government photographer wouldn’t have been able to get the money shot of all these resources being deployed to help the poor lockdown victims.
Shame on the Wall Street Journal. Shame on you. You’re complicit in helping a murderous communist regime cover up a massive human-rights violation and maybe a mass starvation event. You guys need to do a lot of personal reflection about where your lives and morals have gone off the rails.
Reuters, at least, in its article about the starving marines, mentions in passing that “many Shanghai residents have been waking at dawn to work the phones in the hope of securing food supplies from over-subscribed delivery apps.” But U.S. corporate media paints totally fake but rosier picture of a happy lockdown with a fast-paced successful Chinese government response. Total garbage.
Instead, we have to rely on anecdotal reports, like this resident’s courageous silent protest:
(Facebook users: someone pushed their barren fridge out onto their balcony and opened the doors creating a powerful symbol.)
For some reason, we have endless reports on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, but simply silence on Shanghai. Why? Where are all the “I stand with Shanghai” memes? Where are the virtue signalers now? What is the difference?
China is obviously pulling out all the stops to prevent the truth on the ground in Shanghai from getting out. They’ve ordered their U.S. media agents not to talk about it, and are punishing residents who post about the problems on social media. But … what happens AFTER the lockdowns end? Won’t the surviving Shanghai residents talk then? Isn’t the truth going to come out eventually? Why hide it?
The only difference between us and the Chinese is a Constitution plus one extra Supreme Court justice. I am feeling extremely grateful for the Founding Fathers.
🔥 Twitter has announced that, after discussions with Elon Musk, he will NOT be joining the firm’s board of directors. Reporting on the story, the Daily Mail UK suggested one reason might be that joining the board would have stopped Musk from owning more than 14.9% of shares, raising speculation that he is planning a hostile takeover. We shall see.
Early this morning Musk tweeted an emoji of a smiling face, with a hand over its mouth, but then quickly deleted the tweet. Your guess is as good as mine.
🔥 Friday, Neiman Labs reported a story headlined, “The New York Times Would Really Like Its Reporters To Stop Scrolling And Get Off Twitter (At Least Once In A While).”
According to the story, NYT executive editor Dean Baquet sent a memo to staff that encouraged them to stop scrolling on twitter so much. “Tweet less, tweet more thoughtfully, and devote more time to reporting,” he explained.
This is a sort of policy change for the Times. In an interview about the memo, Baquet admitted that newsroom pressure to be on Twitter was real and significant. But in his new memo, Baquet asked reporters “to meaningfully reduce how much time you’re spending on the platform, tweeting or scrolling, in relation to other parts of your job.”
And, Baquet continued, reporters should “strengthen our commitment to treating information [on Twitter] with the journalistic skepticism that we would any source, story or critic.” Lol.
When interviewed about his memo, Baquet cited two main problems. The first was time. Employees should be reporting, not tweeting. Second, and more interesting, was feedback. “Twitter’s reaction to your coverage should not be the primary way you regard the success or failure of your coverage,” Baquet explained.
Good luck with that. All writers want to know what people think about their stories. I know this from personal experience.
🪳 Yesterday, in an interview with ABC’s This Week, psycho deep-state doctor Tony Fauci shocked reporters by saying it’s now up to Americans to make their OWN medical risk assessments. Imagine that. “This is not going to be eradicated, and it’s not going to be eliminated,” Fauci rambled during the interview.
“What’s going to happen is that we’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take,” the despised doctor allowed. “We’re at that point where in many respects … we’re going to have to live with some degree of virus in the community.”
Gosh. A revolution in science. And after all that safe and effective jabbing!
📉 More bad news for Covid restriction lovers! Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a long article headlined, “School Reopening Mess Drives Frustrated Parents Toward GOP.” The sub-headline blames democrat party defections on Covid restrictions: “So disillusioned: Covid restrictions are weighing heavily for Democratic voters who say their party officials left mandates in place too long, with devastating consequences for their children.”
The article reports on a series of former lifelong democrats who admit they voted straight Republican in the last elections and plan to keep on doing it.
Just a couple years ago, Pelosi was confidently predicting that the democrat party was poised to finally achieve permanent party dominance. This article suggests she was WAY off. The Journal noted that “interviews with New Jersey voters revealed that some Democrats’ breaks from their party last fall were neither flippant nor fleeting.”
One of those interviewed was Gina Genovese, a longtime Democratic voter until November, when she cast her ballot for Governor Murphy’s unsuccessful Republican challenger. Ms. Genovese was the state’s first openly gay mayor in 2006 when she presided over Long Hill, N.J., as a Democrat.
But Genovese told the Journal that she was turned off by her party’s support for mask and vaccine mandates, which she viewed as violations of personal freedom. Last year, she helped pay for a lawsuit that tried to strike Governor Murphy’s school mask mandate. This year, she has repeatedly turned down fundraising requests from the Democratic Party. “Democrats have left me so disillusioned,” she said.
Ms. Genovese described herself as “far-left” on global warming and gay rights, and admitted it was a tough decision to support Republicans during the pandemic. But she said she would probably back Republican Thomas Kean for Congress this fall. “Everything is a balance,” she said.
Rachel Keane, a 35-year-old registered nurse and mother of two in West Orange, N.J., said she had never voted Republican until last fall, when she straight Republican on her ballot, right down the ticket. She admitted she was worried about what her liberal parents would think about her switch, but described her decision as an awakening. She had always supported democrats without a second thought, but her anger over the governor’s mask requirements for children made her question that loyalty.
“I knew I wasn’t going to vote for Murphy, but wasn’t sure if I was going to leave it blank or what,” Ms. Keane said. “Then I just got angry and in the back of my head I thought, ‘F— you!’ And I voted Republican all the way down the line.”
56-year-old teacher Donna Davis said she had been a lifelong Democratic voter until the pandemic, when the Republican push to keep the economy open made her more receptive to conservative candidates. When schools started mandating masks and pushing vaccines, she didn’t want to do either, or to return to the classroom, and thought her teaching days were over—until she heard about an alternative learning center defying the mandates. She also supported Gov. Murphy’s conservative challenger and plans to vote Republican this fall.
I told you in 2020 these local governments would eventually regret all the mandates. So.
Have a marvelous Monday, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for more!