Weekend Jolt: Students Are Still Waiting for Randi Weingarten’s Apology

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The 19thcentury ...

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Students Are Still Waiting for Randi Weingarten's Apology

Dear Weekend Jolter,

The 19thcentury public-schools advocate Horace Mann called education the "great equalizer." The same turns out to have been true, only in a more perverse way, of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Newly released research shows that the pandemic led to learning loss throughout entire communities, "regardless of student race or income." Within the hardest-hit districts, all students suffered equally.

Students in richer districts generally did fare better than those in poorer districts. But, as researchers Tom Kane (Harvard) and Sean Reardon (Stanford) wrote for the New York Times to coincide with the latest release of data, "it mattered a lot more which school district you lived in than how much money your parents earned."

One reason for that: school closures, and their universally detrimental effect.

"Test scores declined more in districts where schools were closed longer," the authors wrote. "In districts closed for 90 percent or more of the 2020-21 school year, math scores declined by two-thirds of a year, nearly double the decline in districts that were closed for less than 10 percent of the school year."

School closures weren't the only factor, and the NYT piece and the Education Recovery Scorecard, whose comprehensive research the former summarizes, explore the effect of other pandemic-related factors on education. But even some of those — such as mental health — were potentially exacerbated by closures, and vice versa. From the Scorecard:

We found that students appear to have been affected by community shutdowns; in general, the more curtailed normal life was in a community, the larger the losses. These closures may have sent a message to kids that the world is not safe, which might affect their own mental health, motivation, and engagement in learning. . . . There is also suggestive evidence, in math, that learning losses related to remote and hybrid instruction were larger in places where adults reported higher levels of anxiety and depression. In such cases, adults may not have been able to support children as fully when learning from home.

The impact of school closures and the pandemic generally on learning loss has been studied extensively (this newsletter has noted the connection before). And the indisputable, overpowering consistency of the findings — affirmed again, in the Scorecard — makes the revisionism that is being practiced today by the Randi Weingartens of the world feel even colder.

Recall that the teachers' union head claimed in testimony before Congress last month, "We spent every day from February on trying to get schools open." Now-former Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, among others, challenged Weingarten's version of events. NR's editorial at the time responded:

To put it mildly, this is not true. In the fall of 2020, Weingarten called attempts to reopen schools "reckless, callous, cruel." Every few days during the spring and summer of 2020, Weingarten would give more reasons why schools must remain closed. Affiliated unions said even more bizarre things. The Chicago Teachers Union, in December of 2020, said that the push to reopen schools "is rooted in sexism, racism, and misogyny."

The AFT aggressively lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and even suggested language for the agency's influential school-reopening guidance, language that would make it easier to seriously delay or halt reopenings.

But the story the American Federation of Teachers is telling itself and anyone who will listen is that they were on the side of the openers — which, as is being made clearer with every research release on pandemic learning loss, would mean the side of education itself. Parents and students now continue to wait not only for the AFT’s apology, but for an acknowledgment of the basic facts of history. Neither appears to be in the offing.

Both are owed. In their Times piece, Kane and Reardon wrote that by spring 2022, "the average student was half a year behind in math and a third of a year behind in reading." Where does this cohort go to get their education back?



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Andrew McCarthy: The FBI Didn't Ignore Russian Intel on Hillary's Plan to Smear Trump — It Abetted the Plan

Philip Klein: DeSantis Is Trying to Have It Both Ways on Trump and 2020

Rich Lowry: Daniel Penny Wasn't a Vigilante

Ari Blaff: Why Was an Ontario Public-School Teacher Allowed to Wear Giant Fake Breasts in Class?

Jay Nordlinger: Lucky and Unlucky Ducks

Madeleine Kearns: Are Conservatives Winning the Debate on Transgenderism?

Brittany Bernstein: Influential Iowa Pro-Life Activist Says It's Finally Time to 'Turn the Page' on Trump

Wilfred Reilly: The Glaring Problem with Biden's White-Supremacy Warning

Noah Rothman: Joe Biden's Habitual Race-Baiting

Caroline Downey: 'We Were Blindsided': Female Wyoming Students Break Silence after Suing Sorority for Admitting Male

Caroline Downey: Meet the NYC Theater Teacher Who Stood Up to 'Anti-Racist' Activists at the Height of the Moral Panic of 2020

Ryan Mills: FBI Lacked 'Any Actual Evidence of Collusion' between Trump Campaign, Russia When Crossfire Hurricane Launched, Durham Finds

Jimmy Quinn: After Pro-CCP Intimidation Arrest, Students Warn That Berklee Isn't Doing Enough to Protect Chinese Community


Armond White recalls a Redford film from a different time: They Don't Make Movies Like Lions for Lambs Anymore

Got six figures burning a hole in your pocket? The American Art Fair could help relieve you. From Brian Allen: Fresh-to-the-Market Art Splendors in a Funky Bohemian Ballroom


Danielle Zanzalari takes a closer look at the top-down push for EV adoption: Biden's New Vehicle-Emissions Rules Need Rethinking

The Illinois Policy Institute's Matt Paprocki explains why his family is buying a home in Chicago: How Democratic Cities Can Win Back Residents


Brittany Bernstein conducted a revealing interview with Iowa Evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, who's clearly ready for a Trump alternative:

Former president Donald Trump has once again alienated the pro-life community, this time by suggesting Florida's ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy is "too harsh."

"If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don't even know if he knew what he was doing. But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh," Trump told The Messenger this week.

"I'm looking at all alternatives. I'm looking at many alternatives," Trump said.

Bob Vander Plaats, an influential Evangelical leader in Iowa, reacted to the comment in a tweet saying the Iowa Caucus door "just flung wide open." Iowa governor Kim Reynolds has signed a similar six-week abortion ban in the state.

Vander Plaats, who runs the conservative activist organization the Family Leader, told me he thinks it is a "troubling stance for a presidential candidate who's trying to win a Republican primary." . . .

Trump's candidacy is "concerning on a lot of levels," he said.

"Can he win the general election of 2024 or has too much of America made up their mind on the former president? When we just see a constant focus on the past, versus a compelling vision for the future. I just think there's an exhaustion and I don't think America's ready to embrace that," he said.

"That's why I think it's up to either a Governor DeSantis or a Tim Scott or a Mike Pence or a Nikki Haley or a Vivek Ramaswamy or Asa Hutchinson to rise up and say that they are the clear alternative to a Trump and that at least gives primary voters a choice," he added, though he acknowledged Trump will currently be "very difficult" to beat in the primary. . . .

Vander Plaats said he himself hasn't settled on a candidate to support but believes the GOP has a "very deep bench."

"It's like Bob Seger, it's time to 'Turn the Page,'" he said.

Caroline Downey's spotlight on the case of NYC theater director Kevin Ray makes clear that today's racial obsessions are not shared by all:

When the wave of progressive racial activism crested in the summer of 2020, Ray was working with New 42, a leading performing-arts group whose mission is to get young people interested in theater. The organization leaned hard into the leftist preoccupation with diversity, equity, and inclusion that dominated cultural institutions across the country in those early months of the pandemic, demonizing "whiteness" in its communications with employees and creating a hostile workplace in the process, according to a complaint Ray filed in federal court.

"We acknowledge how essential it is for us to re-think and dismantle white-centered practices that have been embedded in our nonprofit for decades and have caused harm and pain," reads the "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging" page on New 42's website.

This preoccupation with rooting out racism came to define Ray's experience at New 42. For many months, he documented a hostile environment laced with insults, stereotypes, and race-based discrimination packaged as "anti-racism," according to the complaint, first published by the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, a nonprofit that represented Ray in the suit.

In over 70 emails exchanged between staff, countless workplace training sessions, and other interactions with his colleagues, Ray watched as an obsession with race corrupted New 42's educational mission.

As the incidents mounted, Ray sent a letter to the New 42 human-resources department, but instead of helping him navigate a difficult situation, they immediately "hired attorneys to investigate," he said. Rather than putting a stop to what he saw as illegal discrimination, the company retaliated by refusing to give him any further work assignments, according to the complaint.

New 42 "doubled down" on their divisive ideology, Ray said, and circulated as required reading a paper by activist author Tema Okun titled "White Supremacy Culture," which states, "whiteness is a death sentence."

"Do they also want the children of New York City to know this? Why are they sending that around to staff if they don't?" Ray asked in a documentary about his case produced by FAIR.

In response, Ray sued, alleging violations of his civil rights. New 42 and Ray recently reached an agreement that prevented the case from going to trial, but neither FAIR nor New 42 would comment on its terms.

Ray first realized New 42 was entirely captured by a commitment to "anti-racism" when leadership began segregating employees by skin color for some meetings and diversity trainings, he alleged in the complaint. The sessions required RSVPs and offered alternative, segregated trainings for black, Hispanic, or Asian teaching artists.

Relatedly, a word, or more, from Noah on Biden's race-baiting:

Joe Biden ascended to cruising altitude over the weekend to issue a comprehensive critique of the evil lurking in his fellow countrymen's hearts. In a commencement address before the student body at the historically black Howard University, Biden took the measure of American history and found much of it wanting.

The story of American life "has not always been a fairytale," the president said of the straw man he came to bury. It is a narrative of constant struggle between "the best of us" and "the worst of us," symbolic of the "harsh reality that racism has always torn us apart." Speaking of the permanent conflict for the soul of the nation, Biden said it demands that Americans of good faith "stand up against the poison of white supremacy," as he has. He reiterated that "the most dangerous terrorist threat to our homeland is white supremacy." . . .

Joe Biden long ago sacrificed the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his forays into racial agitation. We don't need to sift through the annals of history for examples of his reflexive race-baiting — the notion that Republicans sought to put black Americans "back in chains," the idea that African Americans who declined to vote for him "ain't black," the implicit contrast between Barack Obama, an "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," and other "mainstream African American" political leaders. We need only look at the president's record in his first term in office.

What has Joe Biden "done to improve the lives of African Americans," radio host Rickey Smiley asked the president last year. The president could have said any number of things, but what leapt to his mind was his blanket pardoning of Americans convicted of "possession of marijuana." It might have been a grandfatherly lapse into negative stereotypes, but negative stereotypes form the basis of the administration's efforts to, per Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice, embed "racial equity into everything it does."

And ICYMI, catch up on the Durham report, with the Ryan Mills report on the Durham report, here:

The Department of Justice and the FBI did not have "any actual evidence of collusion" between Russian officials and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and began their Crossfire Hurricane probe of Trump's campaign based on "raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence," according to a report released on Monday by special prosecutor John Durham.

Durham scolded federal law enforcement and counter-intelligence officials for failing to "uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law" as part of their investigation.

He wrote that at least one FBI agent criminally fabricated language in an email that was used to obtain a FISA surveillance order. And he accused FBI leaders of displaying a "serious lack of analytical rigor" and relying significantly on "investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump's political opponents," referring to campaign staffers for Hillary Clinton, then the Democratic presidential nominee.

Through its law firm Perkins Coie, the Clinton campaign funded the compilation of the Steele dossier, an unverified collection of opposition research accusing then-candidate Trump and his campaign aides of collaborating with Kremlin officials. The FBI used the dossier to secure a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page, though its central claims were subsequently disproven by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The report notes that the FBI was quick to investigate Trump, while it proceeded cautiously with allegations against Clinton. . . .

"Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report," Durham wrote.


Aaron Sibarium, at the Washington Free Beacon: How A Left-Wing Activist Group Teamed Up With Big Pharma To Push Radical Gender Ideology on American Hospitals

Nicholas Harris, at UnHerd: Why Gen Z loves Seinfeld

Kat Rosenfield, at the Free Press: What Neither Side Gets Right About Jordan Neely's Death


Staying with the hard-rock theme from last weekend, this is a song that (a) simply has a great name and (b) is a true original. I speak (type) of "Woodpecker from Mars" by Faith No More. Rarely does an FNM song other than "Epic" get radio play, but there are so many worthy curios in the catalogue, especially on what would be their next album. On The Real Thing, I'd consider "Woodpecker" a highlight; simple, instrumental, weird, raw, unapologetically loud.

But again, the name. Which raises a question for the list: What's a song title that hooks you, whether or not the song is a song you like? Shoot it over: jberger@nationalreview.com. For sharing with the list, as usual.

Have a fine weekend.


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