Mounting evidence from around the country shows that students who spent most of the time learning remotely during the 2020-2021 school year, many of them Black and Latino, lost about half of an academic year of learning. That’s twice as much as their peers who studied in person that year.
Third graders are at a particularly delicate moment. This is the year when they must master reading or risk school failure. Everything after third grade will require reading comprehension to learn math, social studies and science. Students who don’t read fluently by the end of third grade are more likely to struggle in the future, and even drop out, studies show.
If even half of these kids fail by this year that loss will be permanent. There are approximately sixty million children under the age of 18 in elementary and secondary schools in the United States. This is 1/6th of that so about ten million said kids are at risk and a 50% failure rate, which is likely low, means five million of them will never pay taxes or contribute to the economy in a meaningful manner.
At the same time those who get older march onward. This in turn means two years worth of birth rate is not only gone its worse than gone because those kids will basically be wards of the state welfare apparatus.
Economically you'd be better off if they were dead (that's neutral where this is and will remain a cost) but of course doing that would be, well, monstrous.
The Federal budget's unfunded entitlements (which are Medicare and Medicaid, mostly) will not survive this. People will scream about Social Security but that has never been and won't be the problem; Medicare and Medicaid will be.
There are many people who are responsible for this -- all fifty Governors, for example, shut down the schools for at least part of the time. Most of the "blue" ones did so for over a year, some nearly two. Masking policies ruin facial expression recognition which is essential to the development of both speech and reading, and those were put in place even in so-called "Red" states.
Teacher's unions and just plain teachers all expected the kids to take the punishment to protect them from the potential bad outcome of a nasty infection which they made far more-likely through their own personal lifestyle decisions. Think not? Have a look at the body mass of the "average" teacher.
The nasty part of this won't hit the economy for five to ten years and once it does it will not leave for forty more years. That's how long it will be, roughly, before those people "pass through" the economy.
There's nothing that can be done about it but we damn well ought to make sure we do plenty to the people who caused it so as to make damn sure nobody ever tries that again.