A new poll shows parents and voters want improved public education and stronger building blocks for those students.
According to the poll, from the American Federation of Teachers, some of the top priorities include reducing class size, helping schools address the shortage of qualified education professionals, and teaching students practical life skills.
Conversely, issues described as the culture wars – like opposing a “woke” agenda or removing “offensive” books – were a low priority.
Kara McCormick-Lyons – president of the White Plains Teachers Association and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers – said some teachers fear getting in trouble for teaching honest history or introducing kids to different experiences.
She identified why these issues are far from people’s minds.
“Voters really see that the culture wars are a distraction from what’s important and what kids need,” said McCormick-Lyons, “which is again, focusing on the social emotional part of school, focusing on the fundamentals and the building blocks to success.”
Only 34% of those surveyed felt addressing these issues is necessary to prevent students from being indoctrinated into a liberal agenda.
Along these lines, 27% of voters, and 21% of parents think teachers go too far in promoting a “woke” political agenda in the classroom.
The poll also notes 80% of those surveyed say improving the quality of public schools is a top priority, instead of providing a wider choice of schools.
With all the information this poll provides, McCormick-Lyons described what the future of public education needs to be.
“If we really want the promise of a better future for our children to come to fruition,” said McCormick-Lyons, “we all have to come together and advocate so that they can get the basic fundamentals in a safe and welcoming environment, where everyone feels welcome, and is available to learn because they have the services that they need.”
Along with this, McCormick-Lyons said she finds there are concerns about learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One priority she said she feels embodies this need is the want to expand literacy and reading programs.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.