By Craig Rucker
The latest “Nation’s Report Card” found that barely one-fourth of American public school eighth-graders were proficient in math in 2021, compared to a still intolerable one-third in 2018. Eighth-grade reading proficiency also fell. Only 13 percent of all students scored proficient in history, 22 percent in civics.
The most significant drops were among Black, Hispanic, multi-racial, and poor students.
During the COVID pandemic, school closures replaced in-person learning with online instruction — impeding students who sat in front of computers or did homework. Staff shortages, closed parks and playgrounds, isolation, and loneliness compounded the problems, leading to unprecedented mental health problems, drug use, suicide, misbehavior, and violence once students finally returned to classrooms.
But instead of acknowledging these, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona blamed “the pandemic,” not government and teacher union responses to the pandemic.
In 2020, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called Trump administration efforts to reopen schools for in-person learning reckless, callous, and cruel. She let local union affiliates aggressively oppose schools reopening throughout 2021 and into 2022 and successfully pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make continued closures official agency policy.
Now she says, “We know young people learn and connect best in person” and has “spent every day from February (2023) on trying to get schools open,” after two years of lockdowns.
The only thing more misleading, disingenuous, and deserving of lifetime social media bans than this revisionist history would be blaming future learning losses on climate change — and claiming those losses would affect minorities worst. Yet, that is precisely what the Environmental Protection Agency is doing.
An April EPA press release claims a peer-reviewed report has found “’children are uniquely vulnerable’ to climate-related impacts that can cause ‘lifelong consequences”\’ for learning and physical health — and these effects ‘disproportionately fall on children who are Black, Indigenous and people of color, low income, without health insurance, and/or have limited English proficiency.’”
Climate models “project” that temperature increases of 2-4 degrees Celsius (4-7 degrees Fahrenheit) will affect children’s concentration and learning, resulting in 4 percent to 7 percent reductions in academic achievement per child per year and affecting future incomes by thousands of dollars annually per individual, the report continues.
Those losses could be exacerbated by significant increases in children’s asthma, Lyme disease, and the trauma of home displacement or loss from rising seas.
The report is “an important new resource in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to address the climate crisis and advance environmental justice,” the EPA says.
It certainly gives the administration another justification for imposing more extreme measures in the name of ameliorating “the climate crisis” — on top of new dishwasher and washing machine standards and onerous regulations to eliminate coal and gas power generation, internal combustion vehicles, and gas stoves, ovens, furnaces, and water heaters.
Meanwhile, China, India, and a hundred other countries build coal and gas power plants every week. We should keep other facts in mind, as well.
The Biden-Harris administration has been less than honest about how lockdowns affected students’ learning. But its record on energy and climate studies, policies, and regulatory dictates has been just as deceitful.
EPA’s press release referred to “children” 26 times, underscoring the agency’s penchant for relying on emotional appeals rather than real, evidence-based science.
Higher temperatures can easily be remediated with air conditioning — if it’s not rendered unavailable or unaffordable by policies that replace coal, gas, and nuclear electricity generation with weather-dependent wind and solar systems that result in soaring prices and repeated blackouts.
Under Biden-Harris policies, air conditioning could become a luxury available only to wealthy school districts. Other classrooms will swelter, not because of climate change, but because of anti-energy government policies.
Average global temperatures have risen only 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the end of the Little Ice Age and the beginning of the modern industrial revolution — and climate models have consistently predicted temperature increases nearly twice what satellites and weather balloons have measured. EPA’s fear-inducing global warming projections have zero credibility.
Nevertheless, the Biden-Harris administration is determined to bring a total, fundamental transformation of America’s energy, economy, and society. It wants to eliminate the reliable electricity that ensures our jobs, health, and living standards before we have proven alternatives to replace it.
Children — and adults — are more imperiled by climate-obsessed governments, school boards, and teacher unions.
This article originally appeared at DC Journal
- Craig Rucker
- Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.