New Poll: Parents Feel Economic Pain Amid a Nation’s Struggle for Educational Gain


56% of parents feel economic conditions are worsening


57% still do not see the utilization of additional funding to address COVID-related learning challenges in their children’s schools and classrooms


76% of parents support allowing parents to use education funding to send their child to a school that best meets their needs


Boston, MA— Midterm campaign season is in full swing, academic recovery is in crisis, and the economy continues to sputter, especially for the working class. Against that backdrop, the National Parents Union released a nationwide survey of parents today to get their views on everything from economic challenges to student debt to education funding.

Economic pain

  • 56% of parents feel economic conditions are getting worse
  • More than 90% of parents making less than $50,000 are struggling to make ends meet or living paycheck to paycheck
  • We know that the Child Tax Credit monthly checks made a difference for hard working families – 86% of parents reported the payments had an impact on their bottom line
  • 37% of parents rate economic conditions in the U.S. as poor; 31% say fair; 21% say good; and 10% say excellent
  • Of the 68% of parents who received an expanded child tax credit last year, 86% said it had an impact on their family’s financial situation

Follow the money… what money?

In March 2021, the U.S. Department of Education began distributing $122 billion in relief funds to schools to address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what the poll found about whether schools are engaging parents regarding where that money is being spent:

  • More than half of parents (52%) have not heard much or anything at all about this additional funding for schools and the ways it can be used
  • Nearly six-in-ten parents (57%) have not seen or heard anything about additional resources in their children’s schools or classrooms being used for this purpose
  • Only a quarter of parents say their children’s schools have asked them for input or feedback on how that funding should be used
  • 41% of parents believe schools will not provide enough extra academic support for their child throughout the school year

Additionally, the poll found that 76% of parents support traditional per pupil funding being allocated to parents so they can send their child to whatever school best meets their needs, whether that’s a public, charter, or private school.

Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union, summarized the findings, saying, “There is a sad irony to the fact that schools are flush with cash yet are still not spending it on helping students academically. While at the same time, parents are struggling to make ends meet wishing they could afford extracurricular activities for their children. This perfectly illustrates what American families are up against. While the chattering class clutched their pearls in shock when the Nation’s Report Card was released, Black and Brown families shouted from the rooftops ‘we told you so, you just didn’t want to listen’. We knew this education crisis was unfolding because we’ve been living it for decades. To the rest of the country, welcome to our reality.”

Snapshot of K-12 education

  • Parents think teachers (66%) and parents (59%) should have more influence on schools than state (32%) or the federal government (47%)
  • When it comes to political party trust, parents believe the Democratic Party is doing a better job handling K-12 public education issues than the GOP (37% vs. 26%)

What to do about debt

  • 37% of parents say they or a family member in their household has student loan debt
  • Most parents support canceling at least some student loan debt; 35% of parents support canceling all student loan debt
  • Of those parents who say at least some debt should be canceled, 71% say debt forgiveness should not be limited to certain professions
  • Of the 22% who favor canceling debt for borrowers working in certain professions, parents say educators are the most deserving of having their debt canceled

Field Dates: August 25-28, 2022

1,026 parents of K-12 students

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The National Parents Union is a network of highly effective parent organizations and grassroots activists across the country that is united behind a set of common goals and principles to channel the power of parents. Our family advocates improve the quality of life for children across the United States and define the education conversation.