Most parents want classrooms to be places of learning, not political battlegrounds

Strong majority of parents believe recent state laws banning books or making it illegal for teachers to talk about LGBTQ or racial issues are about politics, not what is in the best interest of children.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Jocelyn Duran Account Manager, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, September 21, 2022 -- A new Ipsos poll for ParentsTogether among American adults, with an oversample of American parents of children under 18, finds parents believe that the recent laws banning books or making it illegal for teachers to talk about LGBTQ or racial issues are about politics, not what’s in the best interest of children. When it comes to K-12 schools, parents are most worried about safety, bullying, and preparing children for success. In turn, parents feel that these are the issues that elected officials should focus on when it comes to K-12 public schools, instead of focusing on governing which topics can be taught in the classroom. Indeed, few parents feel elected officials and political groups should have significant input over what is included in K-12 public school curriculums. Finally, when given a choice, most Americans, and parents, feel lessons about racism prepare children to build a better future for everyone as opposed to feeling that lessons about racism are harmful to children.

supermajority of parents believe classrooms should be places of learning, not political battlegrounds

Detailed Findings

1. Supermajorities strongly agree that classrooms should be places for learning, not political battlegrounds, with three in four Americans (76%) and parents (77%) sharing this sentiment.

  • When it comes to recent state laws banning books or making it illegal for teachers to talk about LGBTQ or racial issues, most Americans (75%) and parents (69%) believe they’re not about the children, they’re about politics. At the same time, 73% of Americans and 74% of parents agree that politicians are using children in school as political pawns.
  • Furthermore, most Americans (69%) and parents (68%) feel that these laws are being driven by politicians to advance their careers. Few believe that these state laws are being driven by parents’ concerns (29% among all Americans vs. 31% among parents).
  • In fact, few Americans (23%) or parents (21%) support firing teachers who discuss issues of racism and LGBTQ rights in the classroom

2. Two in three (66%) Americans and three in four parents (73%) think that elected officials and political groups are the most responsible for the recent disagreements over what’s taught in public K-12 schools. At the same time, few parents feel political groups or elected officials should have any significant input in what should be included in K-12 public school curriculums, something that is true regardless of party. 

  • Majorities of Republican (70%) and Democratic (84%) parents feel that elected officials at the local, state, or national level and political groups are most responsible for disagreements over what’s taught in public K-12 schools, not parents (10% among Republican parents vs. 6% among Democratic parents).
  • Specifically, only 30% of parents or Americans overall feel that state or local elected officials should have input into grade school curriculums. That drops to about one in five for national elected officials (18% among all Americans vs. 17% among parents), and one in ten for political groups (11% among all Americans and 10% among parents).
    • Instead, most Americans agree that teachers (86%) and parents (72%) should have a great deal or fair amount of input in what should be included in K-12 public school curriculums.

3. When given a choice, most Americans (86%) and parents (87%) feel lessons about the history of racism prepare children to build a better future for everyone as opposed to feeling that lessons about racism are harmful to children (12% of Americans and 10% of parents feel this way).

  • Republican (79%) and Democratic parents (95%) overwhelmingly feel that lessons about the history of racism prepare children to build a better future for everyone rather than harming them.
  • Furthermore, when given the choice between three options, most parents feel that teachers should be able to talk about race, gender, and sexual orientation at school (82%) either through a teacher being allowed to answer student’s questions about these topics (27%) or by having age-appropriate curriculums that includes these topics (55%).

4. When it comes to K-12 schools, parents are most worried about issues impacting safety, bullying, and preparing children for success, and they feel that issues that touch on these topics are what elected officials should focus on, instead of governing which topics can be taught in the classroom.

  • More specifically, when asked to pick their top two worries about K-12 schools from a list of 11 concerns, parents reported being most concerned about bullying and mental health (30%), gun violence (29%), and young people not being prepared for success in life (25%).
  • To that end, most parents feel it is important for elected leaders to focus on ensuring students are safe (93%), and ensuring schools have adequate funding (93%). Few parents (32%) feel it is important for elected leaders to focus on passing laws governing which topics can and can’t be discussed in the classroom.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 19-22, 2022, on behalf of ParentsTogether. For this survey, a sample of 1,301 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 443 Parents, 358 Republicans, 376 Democrats, and 563 Independents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel®, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel® cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The data for the total sample were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, and household income. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2021 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45-59 and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other, Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, 2+ Races, Non-Hispanic)
  • Education (Less than High School, High School, Some College, Bachelor or higher)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Parental status (Parent of child 0-17, Not Parent of child 0-17)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.2. The poll also has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for parents, plus or minus 5.7 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Democrats, and plus or minus 4.6 percentage points for Independents.

The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

 

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson

Senior Vice President, US

Public Affairs

+1 202 420-2025

[email protected]

 

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Jocelyn Duran Account Manager, US, Public Affairs

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