Public policy failures X 2

Public policy failures X 2

It should surprise no one that a new study shows Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) students failed more courses during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After all, by most accounts, the district’s remote-learning plan was a mess.

But the big non-surprise of the analysis – by the Regional Education Laboratory (REL) – was that students chronically absent from their remote educations paced the failure rate.

Researchers re-stated the obvious – one that the Allegheny Institute has repeated quite often: You can’t achieve if you don’t attend.

Interestingly, REL found that absences among those who were chronically absent before the pandemic hit increased by 12 more absences per student once remote learning kicked in.

And lest we forget all the anecdotal evidence that the district apparently didn’t even hear from a statistically significant cohort of students once that remote learning began.

Simply put, AWOL – absent without learning.

Nina Sacco, a PPS assistant superintendent, says the data reinforce “the need for us to pay close attention to test performance and student attendance — not just chronic absence but the number of days that students are not in school and how that impacts the students’ grades.”

No kidding.

The REL analysis pretty much tells us what we already knew. But there was another disturbing nugget in the report:

It is more than intimated that “failure” during the pandemic’s remote-learning time was not what it once was. That is, failure of old was given a pass to pass some kids.

Translation: Failure rates likely were even higher.

Despite significant scholarly research that suggests government-mandated paid sick leave causes more harm than good, Allegheny County Council passed a revised ordinance anyway last week.

The measure requires all companies with 26 employees or more to give one hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours worked. The benefit is capped at 40 hours a year.

As this scrivener noted in April, a review of 10 studies of the effects of mandatory paid sick leave found such laws not only “consistently have moderate negative consequences for affected businesses,” they “do not produce the benefits promised by supporters,” the Freedom Foundation concluded.

Quite telling is research that shows mandatory paid sick leave does not reduce “presenteeism” (going to work sick), often the stated goal of such diktats.

And it remains a horrible time to impose yet more costs on employers struggling in so many ways to bounce back from the pandemic’s business-killing effects.

Again, as noted in April, “the bottom line remains that government, even in ‘good times,’ has no business interfering in the operations of private businesses in such a way.”

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).