BUCK: We’ve been warning you about this for a while. A lot of you know this already from your own children, their experiences. This is from a WPBF-TV news report in early November. People are paying more attention to this now. Masks are causing an over 300% increase, this speech therapist says, in speech delays among very young children.
SPEECH AND LEARNING INSTITUTE CLINIC DIRECTOR JACLYN THEEK: We’ve seen a 364% increase in patient referrals of babies and toddlers from pediatricians and parents.
WPBF-TV ANCHOR MARK KELLY: And they are children that are having a difficult time speaking?
THEEK: Speech delayed.
KELLY: Babies start learning how to speak by reading lips as young as eight months. So what happens when lips and faces are covered up by masks? Well, therapists say for some kids, they can work around the mask and still learn to speak perfectly fine. But for others, it can cause speech delays.
THEEK: There’s no research out there yet to say that this could be causing speech and language delays, but most definitely it’s, I’m sure, a factor. We’re seeing a lot of things that look just like autism.
BUCK: Clay, there are reports like this now all over the country. First of all, we know for a fact that remote learning causes enormous learning loss, particularly among underprivileged minority children from financially low-income backgrounds. Okay. Now talking, speech. It’s near and dear to my heart because not only do I want to help kids obviously, but I had a speech impediment when I was a kid. This is horrible what they’re doing to kids. For what?
CLAY: It is, Buck. And I was reading this morning Flint, Michigan, is basically gonna go to remote learning indefinitely. Eighty percent of the kids in Flint, Michigan, are minority, and no one is standing up for them. And I’ll just say right now — I mentioned this yesterday — in Tennessee, if there are high levels of covid infection among the teaching staff, they allow schools to take a couple of days to go remote. So my kids are on remote learning for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week.
And the amount of work that is required for a parent — I’m at home — to get a kid on, even if you have really good Wi-Fi in your house, even if you have a reliable laptop that they can use, and then you sit and just watch it (as I know many parents have), they’re doing their best. The idea that you could even call it remote learning is, to me, a fundamental repudiation of what’s going on.
I’ve been saying this since they shut down schools in March of 2020 and then didn’t follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to come back in August and September of ’20. A lot of kids were remote for most of that year. That this was and will be the biggest lasting impact in the generations ahead, is the kids that what we have done to their education and how much we have cost them.
And, Buck, the kids that are gonna bear the brunt of that cost are overwhelmingly public-school kids of poor backgrounds who don’t have reliable Wi-Fi at home, who don’t have parents to get them on Wi-Fi. I mean, for a while there — I don’t know what the latest numbers are — there were a million kids that were enrolled in school in March of 2020, Buck, that just disappeared.
They didn’t come back when they had another year of remote schooling, they aren’t able to track them down — and we know what the significance is for kids who were unable to graduate from high school. Their entire lives they’re gonna have much lower overall success rates, and we did this voluntarily to our kids. The biggest American public policy failure since Vietnam. I don’t think there’s any doubt.
BUCK: School is obviously more, and all the educators — I know there are a lot of teachers who are listening to us right now, and I’m sure there are a lot of fantastic teachers listening to us right now. They all know it’s more than just a lesson plan on a screen. I mean, there’s a reason why you could right now go and have… There’s all kinds of places, you know, with Khan Academy. All these online tools are great, by the way, if used as a supplement or used in a certain way for people who already, for example, have had substantial education; it can be great to further your education.
I’m a big fan of the democratization of educational information out there, but there’s a reason why people still want to go to high school, still want to go to four-year universities. Not everyone does, but people do, choose to do this, because it’s about connection, it’s about socialization, it is about the actual human interaction, the learning process. It is different over a screen. We all know that, and I also think just, Clay, this is a reminder, one… Nancy Pelosi when she announced, you know why she said she’s running? Did you see this? I wanted to play this on the show. Maybe we’ll get this for later. You know why she said she’s running for Congress again? I’m not kidding. “For the children.”
BUCK: That is her answer. Democrats love to say they care so much about kids, but when it comes to this pandemic, the Democrats have done more to harm children, to mandate child abuse than at any time I would have thought possible in my lifetime.
CLAY: And the kids who are most suffering are the youngest, to your point, Buck. When you think about the impact of not being in kindergarten and not being in first grade, that’s different than not being a junior or senior in school when you can do a lot of the reading and studying on your own. The climatation, the culturalization of what school represents for those young kids? We’ve lost it. I don’t think it’s a surprise that the speech issues are up 300%.