America’s adults weren’t preparing America for a post-COVID world, and our children got the brunt of it.
According to the government’s Nation’s Report Card, the reading level for fourth graders in 2022 was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2005. It also takes the average eighth-grader 7.4 months to catch up to pre-pandemic achievement levels in reading, 9.1 months for math.
Although COVID-19’s public health emergency ended May 11, the need to help our education system hasn’t.
Adults forget that when you’re a kid, the hardest thing you go through is school. That’s your life when you’re in elementary and middle school. Reading and basic math won’t seem like a hurdle for a lot of college students but to a 9-year-old, that’s the hardest thing they’ve had to do in their life up to this point.
The concern isn’t that they’ll “take over.” It is natural that younger people will replace us. It’s that they won’t have a good quality of life because they missed out on the initial building blocks of education, and quarantine took that away.
Again, the intention isn’t to say, “Woe to us, those kids that can’t keep up and are going to replace us and ruin America.” It is “Woe to us. How can we help our children who had an unorthodox way of growing up.”
Older students were either nearing graduation in high school or in college already. This gave them a bit of an advantage because they already had study habits in place. They’ve learned how to interact with others in public. They understood what it meant to be a student in the most “normal” way.
Our kids simply didn’t.
We need to address the fact that these kids went through a traumatic event that tremendously affected them and are having to come back to in-person learning as if it was just a summer break. Right now, we’re failing our kids.
A universal answer to respond to a child’s deficit doesn’t exist. There is a problem in the education system now, so we need to work on it now. The government has a law for education, but it needs to do a better job so that America can actually tell there is one.
America needs to do better.
We can’t just pass students through either. There has to be a system where they can revisit that education. If they have to repeat the class, then they repeat the class.
If we target it early and see that the student has a deficit in the first grade or freshman year, then we can ensure our younger students have a better quality of life because their education system cared enough to change it.
Sure, older students missed out on prom, graduating less than 6 feet away from each other, senior send-off, but they had that foundation to acclimate.
Where were the programs and system changes for younger and older students? Where were the preparations for a version of America and the world we’ve never seen?
It seems like schools, for both younger and older students, care more about certifications and statistics than actually preparing their students for the real world. And now that the statistics aren’t impressive – no, just sad – is when we see our education slightly change.
Addressing problems isn’t enough. We need action.
This may be harsh to say, but it’s not like our politicians, governors or school boards were held at gunpoint or forced into these jobs. No, they willingly took them despite knowing they’d be held accountable for answers and changes Americans can’t do themselves.
The pandemic may have ended, but it has obviously altered all our lives, including our younger ones — especially our younger ones.