Parents want politics out of classrooms | Education News

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The nation’s public school system has always mirrored the state of politics in America, for better or for worse.

But over the past three years, federal, state and local governments have injected politics into the K-12 system in unprecedented ways — spurred in large part by disparate responses to schooling and security during the coronavirus pandemic and by those who would force schools to adopt policies consistent with their culture war of the day.

Now that education is playing a big role in the looming midterm elections, political influence in schools is the No. 1 concern for parents.

A new survey shows that 68% of parents worry a little or a lot about politicians who are not educators making decisions about what happens in the classroom – the biggest concern reported overall and which exceeds by far their worry about a family member contracting COVID-19 or being able to pay their bills.

Linked to their concerns about political influence in schools, the survey found that the next three main concerns for parents were the happiness and well-being of their children, their children suffering from stress and anxiety, and their children exposed to violence at school.

The survey, “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Way Forward for Equity-Centered Family Engagement,” also polled teachers and principals and found that their top concerns were the same. A total of 70% are concerned that politicians who are not involved in education make decisions about the school curriculum, and 64% have the same concerns about parents who are not involved in education who make decisions about the school curriculum.

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“But significant barriers remain because the system is designed to separate parents and teachers,” says Bibb Hubbard, founder and president of Learning Heroes, an education research organization focused on increasing parent engagement, which has leads the investigation. “We need to listen to parents and educators and put in place the structures and supports that we know will pay dividends in student achievement, educator retention, and family engagement.”

Notably, while parents say they want the opportunity to express their feelings on some of the issues that have dominated the news, the poll found that only 19% expressed concerns about the school curriculum during At a school board meeting, 17% provided feedback on the recommended recommendations. books and 12% have requested that their child be excused from homework this school year.

In an effort to elevate their role, the Department of Education is creating a parent council to help parents better engage with their children’s schools — a move that comes as Republicans tap into parents’ frustrations over the past year. a third year of pandemic tuition and threaten to unseat Democrats as the education party ahead of the midterm elections.

The National Parents and Families Engagement Council is made up of 14 organizations that represent families, parents and caregivers from all walks of life, including more traditional umbrella groups, like the National Parent Teacher Association, as well as groups like Mocha Moms, Fathers Incorporated and National Parents Union. The council will also represent parents and caregivers whose children are enrolled throughout the K-12 system, including public schools, charter schools, private schools and homeschooling.

The Biden administration — and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in particular — has made it a point to elevate the role parents play in their children’s education following last year’s election. , which revealed growing frustrations among exasperated parents in the middle of a third year. of pandemic schooling and highlighted the inroads Republicans have made in casting themselves as trustworthy on an issue long considered a Democratic stronghold.

“Parents and educators have a Herculean task ahead to address setbacks in children’s learning and well-being,” says Hubbard. “They recognize that the key to recovery efforts is teaming up to support students.”

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