POLL: California Voters Left With Diminished Opinion of Public Schools Post-Pandemic

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Californians have been left with a very bad impression of their state’s public schools following the coronavirus pandemic according to recent polling.

The California Policy Center released their findings last week which show that continued closures appear to have given many parents a dramatically worse opinion of their children’s schools.

Just the News reported that while before the pandemic, forty-two percent of voters thought public schools did an excellent or good job. When asked about schools after the pandemic, however, this number dropped to 31%.

The was conducted by Baselice & Associates between May 12 and 17 among 800 California voters. 50% identified as Democrats, 26% Republican, and 24% independent. Nearly one-third had a child in K-12 schooling, but out of these parents, only 25% said they had a child in school full-time.

One out of 10 said they’d moved their child to another school during the pandemic.

“California families with the resources already have school choice – they moved their children to private schools or paid for tutors to avoid the shutdowns,” CPC President Will Swaim said of the findings.

The poll also asked voters how they felt about school choice, that is, public policy decisions that provide means for public education funding to “follow the child” to another school or support tutoring or at-home education.

While over half of voters said they supported school choice, a policy movement that is opposed almost entirely by public school teachers’ unions.

Interestingly, 71% of black respondents and 66% of Hispanic respondents said they supported school choice. Indeed, minority communities are often well-represented among proponents of policies that provide more opportunities for students to attend charter schools, private schools, or receive home education.

Just the News notes that the polling underscores a dramatic shift in attitudes towards school choice, considering 2000’s Proposition 38, which would have created a school voucher program, was rejected by California voters by a margin of 71-29.

Dragged out negotiations between teachers’ unions, parents, and lawmakers over when schools would or will open as well as what pandemic restrictions would be put in place following re-openings has left many parents with a bad taste in their mouth for the school system overall, it appears.

While public school students have been stranded in limbo between at-home learning and a return to in-person schooling, private school students have long since returned to “normal.”

“California students in private schools – even Governor Gavin Newsom’s own children – returned to school in the fall,” Swaim said. “But millions of California students are about to enter summer break with no promise that they’ll fully return to school come August.”

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