Poll: California parents sour on public schools after pandemic

 | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – More than a year of remote-only learning has left a bad impression on voters, many of which are parents of California public school students.

The results of a poll released Wednesday by the California Policy Center, a free-market think tank, show opinions of public schools staying closed resulted in a drop in voters’ opinions of them.

The poll conducted by Baselice & Associates from May 12 to 17 included responses from 800 California voters with 50% identifying as Democrats, 26% Republican and 24% independent. 

Nearly one-third polled had a child in K-12 schools. Of those parents with children, only 26% said their kids were in school full-time. 

Notable is the shift in opinion about the job public schools have done in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters were asked their opinion about public schools before the pandemic. Forty-two percent of respondents said public schools did an excellent or good job. They then were asked about the same schools in light of the pandemic. The percentage giving the same answers decreased to 31%.

One-in-10 respondents who had K-12 aged children said they had moved them to another school amid 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.

The poll also asked about matters of school choice, namely education savings accounts (ESAs) that would give parents a portion of their tax dollars to spend on private education, tutoring or other costs. More than half of the respondents said they would support such a thing, with 71% of Black respondents and 66% of Hispanic respondents in support.

This attitude marks a significant swing from 2000, when Proposition 38, which would have created a school voucher program, failed by a 71-29 margin. 

“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.”

Teacher unions in California had been the leading voice pushing public school districts to remain remote, stressing they wouldn’t put their educators in harm’s way amid a surge in infections. The poll showed voters most commonly thought highly of teacher unions, but they more often than not said they hold too much power. 

The poll found 61% of California voters believe schools should have been fully reopened for in-person learning by the week ending May 17. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the United Teachers Los Angeles teachers union has yet to finalize an agreement with the state’s largest school district to entirely offer in-person learning in the coming fall semester. The state will fund public schools based on the number of students in the school learning starting in the fall.  

Burbio, a community data aggregator, actively monitors 1,200 districts, including the 200 largest school districts in the U.S. It found California’s school districts to score the lowest on their “In-Person Index,” except for Hawaii.


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William Hicks

I worked for LAUSD foe 43 years. During that Iime I saw a world class education system descend to a third world class education system. Early on there was no teachers union and the School Board Members were volunteers with a small stipend.
Then the union(s) began to enter the scene in the late 60s to earlyn70’s. To add to that, Board Members were elected to high paying positions. I mention these two elements together because that’s where the problem(s) start and continue. There’s where the two developed an unholy alliance. You see, union dues aren’t just used for the benefit of teachers needs in the classroom, they buy elections of Board Members as well; and that’s where the rub is. No Board Member is elected without the full support and consent of the teachers union, and Board Members are so apreciative of that support that they give teachers unions whatever they ask without any consideration of the Parents or Students best interest; thus is the unholy alliance.


Crash public schools. Crash teachers unions. Take over the boards of education.

William Hicks

Ask Sandee how easy it is to take over the school board. I don’t think you can achieve that. But don’t give up heart. Schools are funded by ADA(Average Daily Attendance) funds that come from Sacramento. As long as that’s how local school districts keep their classrooms open, that will be their achilles heel.With more parents taking their children out of public education you will begin to see classes and schools shut down for lack of students. There are options to public education that aren’t beyond your time limitations or budget. Do your homework and find them.

William Hicks

Strive for education vouchers so you can choose where your tax dollars go. If you choose public or privae schools should be your option. The only thing public education lacks is competition for the hearts and minds of our children. Give them that competition.