Most parents around the country believe their kids’ schools are doing a good job communicating what is being taught, even where controversial subjects are concerned, a new poll has found.
That’s in spite of the recent onslaught of Republican-led attacks on schools that, in the most extreme cases, cast teachers and Democratic politicians as “groomers” bent on child sexual abuse.
The poll of more than 1,000 parents, conducted by NPR and Ipsos earlier in April, found that although education is a top concern generally ― outranking political extremism, health care and climate change ― parents of all political stripes are pretty happy with their local schools.
Slightly more than three-quarters, 76%, said they agreed that their kids’ school does a good job keeping them “informed about the curriculum, including potentially controversial topics.” The vast majority of parents, 88%, also said their kids’ teachers have done the best they could given the pandemic’s many challenges.
The poll also drilled down on specific controversial issues, such as race and racism and sexuality and gender, and found more parents than not agree their schools are teaching these topics according to their values, although many also said they did not know.
The only statistically significant difference between Democrats and Republicans was related to sexuality and gender. Republican parents were more likely to say their school was not teaching these topics in accordance with their values.
“It really is a pretty vocal minority that is hyper-focused on parental rights and decisions around curriculum,” Mallory Newall, Ipsos’ vice president of public affairs, told NPR about the results.
While GOP attacks on schools and child-rearing largely centered around race last year, the attacks have shifted to include gender and sexuality in recent months, ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been among the most vocal Republicans in the pack, going after supposedly racist math textbooks and supposedly inappropriate Disney cartoons. His state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is so vague in its ban on classroom discussions of gender and sexuality that it is being interpreted as a blanket ban on LGBTQ issues in public schools, which are generally keen on avoiding lawsuits.