“Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows: Education Next released the findings from its 14th annual survey of American views on education. The survey was conducted in May 2020. While this was early in the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment was already 14.7%, the economy in recession, and the schools were shutdown. This survey provides one of the first opportunities to evaluate the public’s views on education in this context. Survey participants were asked their views on: teacher pay, school funding, online education, home schooling, school choice, vouchers, charter schools, school reform, overall satisfaction with teachers and schools, the impact partisan politics has on people’s opinions, cost of higher education, and the impact of populism in public schools. The following examines several of these catagories in greater detail.
The public’s greatest support for increasing teacher pay and K-12 school funding occurred in the previous year’s (2019) survey. This support declined slightly in 2020, but remains close to the all-time high for the past 14 years. Fifty-five percent of participants say teacher salaries should increase. There remains a significant distance between Democrat’s support (66%) and that of Republicans (40%). Increases to school funding was supported by 45% of participants, with 47% saying it should stay the same and 10% favoring a reduction. As with the previous issue, opinions divided significantly along partisan lines with 56% of Democrats in favor of increasing spending compared to 31% of Republicans. While it is encouraging that overall support for increasing teacher salaries and school funding has held steady or increased over recent years, the current support for each issue is still only half of those surveyed.
One of the most relevant and timely areas of the survey was participant views regarding online education and homeschooling. In 2020, 73% of parents say they are willing to have their child take some (almost half) high school courses via the internet, representing a 17% increase from the response in 2009. Support for homeschooling has remained steady over the years with 49% of parents supporting the right of parents to education their children at home.
Overall, those surveyed gave public schools and school teachers high marks. Fifty-eight percent gave their “local” schools and A or B, and 30% gave the “nation’s” schools a similar high grade. The latter score was the highest ever recorded by the surveys. Participants were asked what percentage of teachers were excellent, good, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. They rated 61% of teachers as excellent or good, with 14% being unsatisfactory.Results from the 2020 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion”
Citation(s): Henderson, M. B., Houston, D. M., Peterson, P. E., West, M. R. & Shakeel, M. D. (2020). Amid Pandemic, Support Soars for Online Learning, Parent Poll Shows Results from the 2020 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion. Education Next, 20(13), 8-19.