A new national survey finds parents are happy with their schools, they believe their children are on track, and they feel the most important factor is their own accountability for their children doing well in school. Teachers and districts should rejoice.

Hart Research Associates, an opinion research firm that counts teachers’ unions among its clients, partnered with Learning Heroes (a nonprofit helping parents understand pathways to college success), the National PTA, the National Urban League, NCLR, and UNCF to pose questions online to 1,374 parents and guardians of K-8 public school students in Colorado, Illinois, and Louisiana.

The results show an unsettling disconnect between parent perception and statistical reality.

For instance, 87% of Hispanic parents and 88% of African American parents believe their children are performing well in math, but only 26% of Hispanic students and 19% of African American students are reaching “proficient” on NAEP (the “Nation’s Report Card”).


While the majority of parents say a college degree is a top goal for their student (73% in Colorado, 78% in Louisiana, and 77% in Illinois), and even more believe their student is reading at grade level (86% in Colorado, 87% in Louisiana, and 86% in Illinois), the reality is students aren’t meeting the mark. The percentage of students reaching proficiency under new college preparation aligned standards is less than half in all three states.

The researchers say this gap in perception and performance “suggests an opportunity to better inform parents about what it takes for young people to be ready for college – academically, emotionally, and financially.”

For their part, parents do have concerns. The biggest one is how to pay for college, followed by social/emotional issues like peer pressure, emotional health, bullying, and stress. Fears about social media usage also registers strongly.

Hispanic and African American parents report higher levels of engaging their child’s teachers at least monthly. Yet, they report lower levels of communication from teachers than white parents.

When asked who is most responsible for a child’s education, 43% say parents are. That far exceeds responses for teachers (16%), school district leaders (2%), and school principals (1%).

Overall, the report illustrates the challenge school reformers and college boosters have in educating the public. All credible research shows children, especially children of color, are not doing nearly as well as their parents believe, and far fewer are prepared for post-secondary education. For some, this will appear as though we’ve tripped upon one more difficult gap to close: the information gap.

Sadly, it’s been there all along and it has been a useful tool for those in the K-12 education monopoly who resist many of the reforms that could help students do as well as they believe they are doing.

Read the report below.


Hearts & Minds of Parents in an Uncertain World by Citizen Stewart on Scribd

Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of Education Post, a media project of the Results in Education Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes. Stewart has served as the director of outreach and external affairs for Education Post, the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.


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