By Katherine Bathgate, Senior Policy Advisor at State Policy Network
2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent education history. School closures amid the coronavirus hit parents hard as they scrambled to navigate options to ensure learning continued for their children. Some families were able to access online learning relatively quickly while others picked up paper packets for their children to complete at home. Other children received little-to-no instruction during this time. Now, parents are trying to figure out what the 2020-21 school year will look like and how to help their children learn under challenging conditions.
In June, SPN conducted a nationwide poll through
Heart + Mind Strategies to learn what K-12 parents experienced in the spring, assess
their thoughts for the upcoming school year, and explore what policies they
would like to see put in place that would allow their children to receive a
quality education going forward. Here are some of the key
results were mixed at best and parents shouldered the burden of distance
- Over 40% of parents believe their children are now behind academically.
- 81% of parents say their children engaged in distance learning and about 50% of those parents said they had a good experience with distance learning.
- Parents report they spent on average 10.2 hours a week supporting their
children’s education and spent about $200 on school supplies and materials
during the school closures.
As parents think about the upcoming school
year, many parents are considering change and/or are uncomfortable sending
their children back to school:
- Only 1/3 of parents polled said they were comfortable sending their children back to school under the current conditions.
- 58% of parents are considering changing their child’s education and 20% report they have already made a change.
- The most popular ideas for
supporting students with health concern in the fall were increased access to
resources like a stipend to support at-home learning or remote or distance
Support for school choice has grown:
- Homeschooling received an
11% bump in favorable attitudes from pre-pandemic support to now. 37% of
parents say they are very or extremely likely to consider homeschooling this
- School choice favorability
saw a 6% bump and 35% of parents say they would be very or extremely likely to
use an Education Savings Account to change at least one of their children’s
schools if their state had or enacted one.
Parents favor policy ideas that technology
and empower families:
- The top policies parents
support are requiring schools to provide distance learning for students who
cannot return (67% support) and subsidizing digital devices to help students
get online from home (63% support).
- 63% of parents say they
would support an “emergency” or “pandemic” Education Savings Account to help
families fund homeschool, online school, or tutors when it is unsafe for their
children to return to school due to health reasons.
As states navigate another unprecedented school
year, these results provide valuable insights on what parents expect and how
they can ensure learning continues in a way that puts students and families
The findings from the poll are below. The nationwide poll was conducted June 16 – June 25, 2020 of 1,000 parents of school-aged children.