Republican and Democratic parents agree on education relief funding amid COVID-19 challenges
Parents trust school district leaders and state public health officials most to evaluate and establish safety procedures in schools
Boston, MA (March 8, 2021) — As the U.S. approaches the one-year anniversary that commenced school closures and the shift towards distance learning, a majority of parents (59%) say schools should offer both in-person and remote learning options during this school year and (55%) next school year, according to a new poll released today by the National Parents Union. Meanwhile, only five percent of parents think teacher unions should have the final say on the return to in-person learning as local school district leaders, parents and public health officials are most reliable in the decision-making.
As education, health and financial concerns remain elevated, views on vaccinating children remain about the same. Only 30% of parents say vaccination is necessary to send their children back to school, a slight drop from last month’s poll. In addition, Black parents are more likely to say schools should wait until all teachers and staff have the opportunity to be vaccinated (49%), compared to 36% of Hispanic parents and 30% of white parents.
The survey also found that families align on school spending priorities if additional relief funding is made available. Both Republicans and Democratic parents believe providing schools with health-related supplies for teachers, staff and students, as well as providing additional academic support for students who need it, and resources for students’ mental health are key priorities to help address the educational challenges related to COVID-19.
“We are a year into the biggest educational disruption most of us will experience in our lifetimes and policymakers still don’t have a handle on how to resume safe in-person learning when all that parents want is more choice amid acute learning loss,” said Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union. Parents are grappling with hard decisions and certainly the noise coming from teachers’ unions is not making things any easier as families are inclined to trust and confide more in other parents, public health officials and education leaders when it comes to school safety.”
The survey also highlights the increasing divide on the prioritization of learning options among parents as 46% say their child is learning less than normal. At the beginning of the school year, 54% of parents wanted access to consistent high-quality remote learning while 37% wanted students safely back into the classroom. Six months later, the need for more choice is paramount as both options are increasingly in high demand, at 48% and 46% respectively. Meanwhile, parents with kids in hybrid and full-time remote learning models consistently poll as the most dissatisfied with their school.
Rodrigues continued, “parents want high-quality consistency and are growing increasingly frustrated with the dismal outlook that their child is falling further and further behind. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on families, it is disempowering parents, disengaging children, and making teachers lose their love of teaching. Elected officials have a responsibility to advocate for families and for funding to flow directly to the students; parents are still waiting for urgent resources and economic assistance.”
The survey also showed a consistent upward trend in concerns over mental health and wellbeing. 68% of parents are concerned that their kids are missing important social interactions at school or with friends, up from 58% last April. In addition, 65% are worried about how the current environment is affecting their children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing, up from 50% last April. Yet, fewer than four in ten of parents say their child’s school is currently offering services to support students’ mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Full toplines and crosstabs can be found here:
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1,002 parents of K-12 public school students