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“Too much of the current education policy making happens without any meaningful parent input, and often in complete opposition to parents’ priorities and concerns.”
Parents Across America (PAA), a national network of public school parents from all backgrounds across the United States, recently carried out its first national parent survey, “Real Parent Voice – Real Parent Choice.” Our goal was to hear directly from parents about what really matters to them in public education, and to share their voices with our political and policy making leaders.
584 people from 33 states responded to the survey. Nearly all of them were current (68%) or former (27.5%) public school parents.
The survey reinforced PAA’s contention that too much of the current education policy making happens without any meaningful parent input, and often in complete opposition to parents’ priorities and concerns. The survey found little resemblance between what many parents think and want and what Congress or education entrepreneurs and philanthropists claim that we think and want.
Respondents’ top priorities and concerns are in clear conflict with many of the actions of Congress and state legislatures. For example, our survey identified adequate school funding as respondents’ top concern, with the need for programs beyond the so-called “core curriculum” coming in a close second. Yet many states and districts have cut school budgets, some drastically, over the past few years. The current federal administration has proposed a 13% overall cut in federal school funding. A large percentage of respondents also expressed concern that too much money was being directed towards privatization including charter schools and educational technology. The survey also reflected parents’ growing alarm and anger about the EdTech takeover.
Comments on charter schools mirrored the national controversy along with the special dilemma many parents face – do they trust a local public school that’s been undermined by inappropriate top-down mandates and Scrooge-like funding, or take a chance on a charter school that may have outside resources or a push-out policy to get rid of discipline problems?
The key take-away from this survey is that parents have strong opinions about public education which are formed in the context of their deep love for their children. For that reason alone, parents’ opinions matter, and are worthy of being taken into serious consideration when decisions are being made that affect their children.
PAA’s role is to help promote an informed parent voice. We will take into account the results of this survey – the parent voices that it has gathered – as we continue to create informational materials, fact sheets and position papers that can be used in our outreach to Congress and other policy makers, to reflect the concerns and hopes of parents whose input is too often neglected. Well-informed and well-supported parents are the best equipped to challenge threats to our children’s educational opportunity, well-being and happiness. And when parents join together, we are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
PAA is a grassroots organization that connects parents of all backgrounds across the United States to share ideas and work together to improve our nation’s public schools. PAA is committed to bringing the voice of public school parents – and common sense – to local, state, and national education debates. PAA currently has 47 chapters and affiliates in 26 states.
The press is invited to join a teleconference with PAA members to discuss the survey results.
When: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 1 pm ET
Call-in number: 515-604-9727 access code 728537#