Too often, the voices of the parents of public school children are left out of our national discussions about education. The AFT sought to change this and commissioned a survey that interviewed 1,200 public school parents to learn how they feel about the issues that directly affect their children.
AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke about the survey:
These results match what I hear from parents and communities across the country. There is zero ambiguity when it comes to what parents want for their children’s education: safe and welcoming, well-funded neighborhood public schools that help children develop their knowledge and skills and ensure equal opportunity for all kids. Parents deeply support the public schools their children attend and are happy with the job public schools are doing. And while we will never be satisfied until every public school is a place parents want to send their children, educators want to work, and kids are engaged and happy, these results confirm the sentiment we’ve seen in other recent polls that show support for public education continuing to rise.
It’s striking that the agenda being pushed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defund public education and divert resources to vouchers and other privatization schemes—even when they are cloaked as ‘choice’—is completely at odds with parents’ educational priorities. This is true across every race, political persuasion and area of the country. These results should serve as a clarion call to policymakers to stop defunding our schools and instead deliver on the priorities parents want, to reclaim the promise of public education for all children.
The survey found that public school parents:
- Say that the public schools their children attend provide them with an excellent or good quality education.
- Are satisfied with their children's public schools when it comes to helping their child or children achieve their full potential.
- Favor good quality neighborhood public schools over school choice.
- Say their top priorities are: providing a safe and secure environment for children, making sure students graduate with the knowledge and academic skills to succeed in college, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to succeed, and developing students' critical-thinking and reasoning abilities.
- But they also have concerns about education issues such as: education budget cuts at both the local and federal levels, shifts in funding away from traditional public schools to vouchers and charter schools, increased class sizes, layoffs of teachers and staff, high teacher turnover rates, and cutbacks in art, music, libraries and physical education to focus more on reading and math.
- Say the central challenges facing public schools today are inadequate funding, too much standardized testing, large class sizes and lack of support for teachers.
- Overwhelmingly disapprove of the job Betsy DeVos is doing as education secretary.
- Express the greatest confidence in educators—both teachers and principals—and parent organizations to have the best ideas for public schools.
- When it comes to investments to strengthen public schools, they favor expanding access to career and technical education and other vocational programs that prepare students for jobs, reducing class sizes, providing extra resources and support to turn around struggling neighborhood schools, making sure school curriculums include art and music, providing health and nutrition services to low-income children through their public school, improving mentoring for new or struggling teachers, increasing the number of community schools, and providing high-quality preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds.
Read more about the findings.