Post-pandemic survey shows parents want greater control of kids’ education

Editor’s note: This article appeared Wednesday on the74million.org. To read an analysis of the survey from Patrick Gibbons, manager of policy and public affairs at Step Up For Students, click here.

More than half of the 3,115 parents who participated in a spring survey said they prefer to direct and curate their child’s education rather than rely entirely on their local school system, results showed.

Conducted by Tyton Partners, an investment banking and consulting firm that examines pandemic-related shifts in education, and funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation and Stand Together Trust, the survey was released Oct. 26. It comes after parents had courtside seats to various aspects of their children’s learning during the pandemic, prompting many — from myriad backgrounds and political affiliations — to push for change.

“What we’re hearing from parents loud and clear is they feel a greater sense of ownership over their child’s education,” said Christian Lehr, a senior principal in Tyton’s strategy consulting practice. “The last two years have been incredibly difficult. Now, parents are actively searching for new experiences that will deliver on academic promises, yes, but also bring joy and delight.”

Fifty-nine percent of participants said their educational preferences changed post-pandemic: 51% said personal interest and needs should drive a child’s education rather than grade-level requirements.

Nearly 80% said learning can and should happen anywhere.

Some parent groups, frustrated by underperforming schools, have advocated for the types of change they feel will propel children of color and other marginalized groups. Many don’t have a political agenda while others are openly partisan: Conservative parents are driving change from within the public school system, pushing for certain texts — often those that concern issues of race and gender — to be pulled from the classroom. Left-leaning suburban families have organized against this trend.

Others still, unhappy with districts’ remote learning options during the pandemic, removed their children from the public school system entirely. And while some have returned to campus, virtual school enrollment figures remain high.

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