Poll: Across the political spectrum, appetite for change in education is waning; Half of parents prefer vaccines for children, many want online option
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In its first opinion poll on education policy since the start of the pandemic, the journal Education Next finds that support for a number of highly visible school reforms is waning. Between 2019, the last time the survey was conducted, and last spring, support for increasing school spending, academic standards, public charter schools, and most forms of vouchers declined in increments. statistically significant.
“The public seems tired of the disruption, the changes and the uncertainty,” the newspaper said. “Overall, the public seems to be calling for a return to the status quo.”
The softening support this year spans the political spectrum, although – like most years – respondents overwhelmingly viewed their own schools more favorably than nationwide education. In its 15th year, the EdNext poll also found stronger support by political affiliation among lawmakers.
Following a spring 2020 survey of families, the newspaper also surveyed over 2,000 parents among the 3,156 adult respondents to find out their views on student safety, the likelihood of their children having their children immunized when they will be able and their satisfaction with the experience of their children. to the academic year 2020-21. Just over half, 51 percent, plan to have their children immunized, while 34 percent say they probably or certainly won’t.
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Black and Latino parents are more likely to get their children immunized than white families, Democrats more likely than Republicans, and least likely to homeschool, at just 32%.
Two-thirds of parents surveyed want an online option for their school-aged child, as do 48% of families with elementary school students. Wearing a mask is favored by 47%, while 35% oppose it.
On policy issues, interviewers asked questions in a variety of ways to determine whether the interviewer’s framing had altered respondents’ responses. In the Winter 2022 issue of the journal, researchers Michael B. Henderson, David M. Houston, Paul E. Peterson, and Martin R. West found that a change of 5 points or more was statistically significant.
While overall support for increasing school spending has declined significantly, it plunged 11 percentage points, from 50 to 39 percent, among respondents who were told their local district’s current per student spending. Among those surveyed without this background, the number in favor of increased spending rose from 62% to 57%.
Support for increasing teachers’ salaries rose from 56 to 53 percent among those informed of their current state average, and from 72 to 67 percent among those who were not informed of the average salary.
Overall support for charter schools fell 7 points, from 48 to 41 percent. As in previous polls, support is much stronger among Republicans than Democrats, at 52% and 33% respectively.
More than half, 55%, of those surveyed gave their local public schools a grade of A or B – down from a peak of almost 60% in 2019, but well above the 40% who scored gave those high marks in 2008. In contrast, only 23% of those polled this year gave Aces or B’s to public schools across the country.
The number of black respondents who give a high grade to schools in their community increased sharply, from 24% in 2008 to 46% in 2021. The number of whites giving their schools A and Bs increased from 44% to 57%, while the number of Latinos has increased. from 39 percent to 60 percent.
All groups were much more likely to say that schools across the country deserve neither an A nor a B, with just 24% of blacks and 18% of whites giving top honors. At 59%, the number of Democrats giving local schools an A or a B remained the same between 2019 and 2021, while Republican support rose from 62% to 51%.
The number in favor of vouchers for private schools for all students fell sharply in 2019, from 55% to 45%, but less for state-funded scholarships for low-income students, which fell from 49%. % to 43%.
Support for tax credit vouchers, where businesses and others receive tax credits to donate to private scholarship programs, gained traction with Democrats, with support dropping from 56 to 61% between 2019 and 2021. The idea has lost ground among Republicans, meanwhile, with support dropping from 65 to 53 percent. The researchers speculated that the partisan overthrow may in part reflect President Joe Biden’s success in persuading Congress to pass expanded tax credits for families with children.
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As to whether teachers’ unions have helped or hindered efforts to reopen schools in the first 18 months of the pandemic, the public “seems reluctant to draw any solid conclusions,” pollsters said. Half of Americans say unions haven’t made it easier or harder to reopen schools.
Yet only 15% of those polled say unions have made it easier to reopen local schools, while 35% say they have made it more difficult. Nationally, 48% of respondents say unions have made it harder to reopen schools.
Teachers were more likely than parents to be critical, with 43% saying unions made it difficult for local schools to open, compared to 34% of parents. Among parents, 22% said unions made it easier to reopen schools, a view shared by 18% of teachers.
Seventy-two percent of Democrats and Republicans support testing statewide of students in grades 3 through 8 and again in high school.
Differences in public and policy makers’ appetites for change should give education advocates across the ideological spectrum food for thought, the researchers said. “In the political sphere, expectations of large-scale innovation are high,” they note.
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