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No Mercy No Malice

The $3.5 Trillion Pandemic Education Gap

Helping students catch up may be the pandemic’s most enduring challenge

Whitney Was Right

The children are indeed our future. In my book, Post Corona, I offered this thesis: “The pandemic’s most enduring impact will be as an accelerant.” And that’s proving out in many areas. In health care, office work, food delivery, banking, and more, we are seeing “decades happen in weeks” as Lenin said. (Note: He didn’t say it, but attributing the quote to Lenin is gangster.)

Not for Teacher

Who will get these kids back on track? Don’t count on teachers. It turns out that if you underpay, under-resource, and fail to accord equal respect to people for long enough … they’ll quit. Two-thirds of our school districts face a teacher shortage, and 28% of teachers are likely to retire or leave the profession earlier than expected.

The Ivory Tower

I write often about higher education — not only because it’s my day job, but also because it’s an integral part of the innovation and economic mobility at the heart of the American dream. College has become too expensive. It’s morphed from the ultimate lubricant of upward mobility to the enforcer of the caste system. Every day, it becomes less American. I thought Covid would inspire partnerships with tech firms to dramatically expand access. I was wrong. Our elite universities have doubled down on exclusivity rather than embrace the opportunity for change.

Abandoning Ship

For a rapidly increasing number of American families, the answer to the problems with our schools is not to attend them. Home-schooling, growing in popularity for years, skyrocketed during the pandemic. Today, more than 1 in 10 kids are home-schooled. It may indeed be a solution for some families, but it’s impractical or unappealing for millions of households who rely on public and private schools to teach critical skills.


There are real signs of hope and change, though. U.K.-based Multiverse offers non-college-bound kids apprenticeships at many of the world’s premier firms. Promising kids get an onramp to the American dream that bypasses the arrogance and debt of admissions departments and outrageous tuition fees, respectively. In addition, this summer, the University of California sent out more than 160,000 admissions offers for Fall 2021, a record high. And institutions like the UC system that are taking positive steps got a boost this week from, of all places, the college-ranking industrial complex. Forbes magazine changed its ranking system in a way that could inspire a huge shift back to where higher ed needs to be.

Ms. Jensen

My iPhone keeps serving pictures of my boys from years ago. It is very rewarding and, at the same time, heartbreaking. I feel a rush of happiness, and then longing sets in. I will never have back the 5-year-old who let me grow his curls out. Gone is the 8-year-old who’d sleep naked unless you found pajamas with Jedi Master Yoda on them. If you don’t find the preceding two sentences nauseating, it means one thing: You have kids.