Closing classrooms may cost school districts thousands of students for years to come

Will Flanders & Ben DeGrow:

In the spring, many families were willing to give schools the benefit of the doubt as they adjusted to distance-learning programs, but it looks like time has run out on that goodwill. Part of the frustration is tied to students’ learning losses in key subjects such as math. Even more significant, perhaps, are concerns about mental health and child care.

Fewer parents are now “completely satisfied” with their children’s education; their number fell by 10 percentage points since last year, according to a Gallup poll. Parents across the country have expressed their dissatisfaction by voting with their feet: States from Colorado to Georgia have experienced substantial declines in public school enrollment.

How well do officials’ decisions to keep schools closed explain these enrollment declines? One recent study in Wisconsin attempted to find out. Using data from the more than 400 school districts in the state, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty found that districts that went fully virtual saw a 3 percent decline in enrollment, on average, once other factors were accounted for.

Many students who left public schools enrolled in the state’s private school choice programs, where a significant number of schools maintained in-person instruction even as traditional public schools shut down. The biggest enrollment declines occurred in the grade levels that have the most difficult time with virtual learning – kindergarten and pre-kindergarten.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.

Run for Office: Dane County Executive is on the Spring, 2021 ballot.