Parent Poll reveals that economic concerns override cultural tensions and cell phone usage is allowed.

Parents from various political backgrounds express their support for allocating public funds directly to families for services like tutoring, internet access, and mental health care, as indicated by a survey released today by the National Parents Union. Additionally, a large majority emphasizes the importance of their children having access to cell phones at school, despite concerns related to social media.

The survey results are based on a survey conducted by the National Parents Union, polling 1,506 parents of K-12 public school students between Feb. 6-8.

Leading up to the State of the Union address, the organization has been conducting surveys among parents for the past four years to provide them with a platform to present their own State of the Union, explained Keri Rodrigues, the founding president and a contributor to 74. All questions in the survey are formulated by parents serving on the group’s Family Advisory Council, which comprises delegates from various parts of the country representing diverse aspects of American families.

Even though some survey results were expected, such as parents welcoming increased financial support, Rodrigues stresses their significance as they convey a vital message to policymakers about parental priorities. Rodrigues mentioned, “We have these little, ‘We told you so moments.’ I think this is yet another one.”

Keri Rodrigues

Rodrigues highlighted the misconception that parents are chiefly concerned about controversial cultural issues, emphasizing the prevalent economic struggles faced by families. “We have consistently said to people, ‘Please, listen. Look at the data …’ It is clear,” she stated. “Parents are struggling with economic issues … Inflation, the cost of living, people living on the edge. Parents and families are scared and they’re hurting.”

Stressing the importance of economic justice alongside education justice, Rodrigues underlined the intersecting issues that impact families. She noted, “We are obviously focused on education justice but economic justice for families is equally important to us because we really deal with the intersectional issues.” By addressing these broader issues, the National Parents Union aims to advocate for parental concerns effectively.

Concerning the ranking of priorities, surveyed parents placed K-12 education as the third most crucial issue for the president and Congress to tackle, following the economy and immigration. Rodrigues emphasized the need to recognize the broader political context and the competitive nature of educational concerns among voters and families.

According to another survey by the organization released in November 2023, Democratic candidates were slightly more trusted on education-related matters, while Republicans received a marginally higher trust concerning the economy. The vast majority of parents expressed a desire for bipartisan cooperation among policymakers to develop effective education policies, even if it entails compromise.

Highlighting the aspirations of American families, Rodrigues expressed frustration with the lack of attention from elected officials towards significant issues such as the child tax credit, advocated for by President Biden during the recent State of the Union address, and the implementation of evidence-based reading and literacy programs.

Laying emphasis on unity and the common ground among the majority, she stated, “We can do big things. We can have unity … The majority of us can agree on some big, important things.”

Of the parents surveyed in February, 87% favored expanding the child tax credit, and 85% supported extending subsidies to reduce health insurance costs. A significant majority also endorsed providing direct funding to families of K-12 public school students for accessing additional resources like tutoring.

The survey did not include inquiries about contentious vouchers allowing parents to use public funds for private school education. The National Parents Union stands out for its critiques of conventional public schools, including teachers’ unions, which align at times with pro-school choice education reform advocates, and for amplifying the voices of parents, particularly of lower-income families of color.

Over 80% of the surveyed families sought federal support for all K-12 public schools in the form of counseling, mental health services, free school lunch, high-quality preschool programs, and increased funding for schools in economically disadvantaged areas.

Among the 484 parents who responded to demographic questions, 27% identified as conservative, 24% as liberal, and 43% as moderate. The respondents represented a diverse mix of socioeconomic backgrounds and varied geographically. This diversity, coupled with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, ensures a comprehensive view of parental perspectives.

While numerous school districts received additional federal funds to address pandemic-related challenges, only 27% of parents acknowledged any communication concerning the utilization of these ESSER dollars in their children’s schools.

However, over 70% of parents noted that their children’s public schools provided laptops or tablets since 2021, with around 45% reporting additional tutoring and counseling services offered by schools, possibly supported by relief funds.

Reflecting on the ESSER funding outcomes, Rodrigues expressed disappointment over the lack of parental voice in directing the expenditure and the unmet expectations, such as insufficient mental health support. She remarked, “Are we whipping laptops and chromebooks at kids? Hell yes we are. Is that necessarily a good thing? I mean a lot of parents would argue that that’s not actually getting us to the outcome.”

Pro cell phones, wary of social media use

To shape the survey’s focus, Rodrigues shared data with the Family Advisory Council on student social media usage and its mental health implications.

These discussions revealed a noteworthy distinction: parents perceive cell phones and social media as separate concerns, though the two have become interlinked. This distinction was a learning point for Rodrigues, both as the organization’s president and as a mother.

The survey results reinforced this separation, with parents wanting their children to carry phones for school communication while recognizing the hazards associated with social media and its detrimental effects on youngsters.

According to surveyed parents, the primary reasons for kids using phones include contacting family members, playing games, connecting with friends, listening to music, and taking videos. Concerning social media, 65% of parents reported their children using it, while 83% indicated a need for a minimum age requirement for children to have their social media accounts, with the majority suggesting age 13. Additionally, nearly 30% of parents estimated their kids spending four to five hours daily on their phones.

Despite concerns about social media, close to half of the parents acknowledged positive impacts of cell phone use on their children, with an additional 42% perceiving a balanced mix of positive and negative effects.

Parents highlighted several reasons for advocating cell phone use in school, with about 80% citing emergency communication as a crucial factor. Additionally, half of the parents emphasized its significance in coordinating transportation, while 40% stressed the need for kids to communicate about mental health or other requirements throughout the day.

Regarding cell phone use within school premises, slightly over 50% of parents believed that students should sometimes be permitted to use their phones, while about a third favored restrictions, except for medical conditions or disabilities requiring phone use. Minimal support was observed for the idea of locking up students’ phones in secure pouches or containers.

Addressing the erosion of trust between parents and schools, particularly in terms of communication and transparency, Rodrigues highlighted the challenges faced in reestablishing the broken trust during the pandemic era and emphasized the need for effective communication channels.

Other articles

Post Image
Education
Ten Commandments Bill Progresses in Louisiana Legislature with Potential Legal Challenge

An introduced legislation to mandate the display of the Ten Commandments in all …

Read More
Post Image
Education
MSU’s Department of Music to Hold Studio Events in April

Students are honing their skills for a brass performance. The Department of Musi …

Read More
Post Image
Education
Teenagers are being developed as teachers

In the Career and Technical Education building at Fauquier High School, students …

Read More