A startling 5 in 10 parents profess a loss of confidence in the public school classroom, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That statistic comes in a report from the left-of-center Hunt Institute titled “Across the Aisle: Bridging the Education Divide, What Voters and Parents Want in Education.” It was co-authored by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise and Hunt Institute President and CEO Javaid Siddiqi.
Nearly 5 in 10 respondents reported a decrease in confidence in the public education system since the beginning of the pandemic, and only 1 in 4 found that school leaders and state officials handled the challenges brought on by the pandemic “very well.”
The survey asked voters and parents a series of questions regarding education issues and concerns. The clear consensus shows the push for school choice is on the rise. Parents are reporting they want more freedom in choosing their children’s education and desire more transparency from public schools.
Education is a top priority for parents when it comes to voting. After experiencing draconian lockdowns, school closures and the radicalization of the classroom on matters of race and gender, more and more parents are stepping up to the ballot box with their children, and the future, in mind.
When the Hunt Institute asked voters why they or their family sought to enroll in education outside of the public system, roughly 44% cited “higher quality education” as their top reason. Classroom environment and curriculum were second and third, at 12% and 11% respectively.
Learning loss is just one side-effect of COVID-19 policies that parents are highly frustrated with. The Hunt Institute cited a study that estimated anywhere from five to nine months of learning loss had occurred by the beginning of the 2021 school year.
On top of that, over the course of the next school year test scores decreased across the board. Both English and math scores among fourth and eighth graders saw decreases ranging from five to eight points, and in some cases reached historic lows.
According to the report, 60% of all respondents saw learning loss as a very important issue for public officials and education leaders to address.
The education issue is even deeper than politics, however. Parents have begun to largely advocate for the right to decide on the education that their children ought to receive, even as they battle rhetoric that views children as property of the government or the school system. Parents are increasingly forming and joining supportive organizations and speaking out about the fact that children are a gift to their parents, not the state.
In May, a survey of over 5,000 parents by The Harris Poll found that 82% of parents would be willing to vote outside of their declared political party if the candidate’s views on education matched their own.