Voters in the U.S. are overwhelmingly “dissatisfied” with how public schools handle issues of race, sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a poll commissioned by a progressive teacher advocacy organization. The poll conducted in May of 1,758 likely voters in seven states considered battleground states in presidential elections. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4% and was commissioned by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Surveyed voters for the report, lived in the states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. By a more than 2-1 margin, more respondents indicated that they were “dissatisfied” with “the way students are taught about the role of race in America. Similarly, 58% of participants said they were “dissatisfied” with “the way students are taught about issues related to sexual preference and gender identity” compared to 23% who were “satisfied.”
There was some indication that U.S. voters trust Republicans more on education issues than they do Democrats, albeit with some of the findings being within the margin of error. Thirty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they had “more confidence in Republicans” on education issues, while 38% asserted they had “more confidence in Democrats.” When asked who was more responsible for “politicizing education,” 33% said “Democrats and liberals” were more to blame, while 28% said “Republicans and conservatives.” Thirty-six percent held both parties “equally responsible.” Additionally, 59% of respondents said they disapprove of Joe Biden’s job as president and 45% said they were more likely to vote for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate compared to 42% who saw themselves as more likely to vote Democrat. Among the states surveyed, all but Michigan have a U.S. Senate race this year.
When listing major problems with education, 49% of respondents put “Education has become too politicized” in their top four issues, more so than any other issue. In second place was “teacher shortages and lack of staff” at 45%, followed by “lack of support and respect for teachers” at 40% and “inappropriate teaching” about issues like “sexual orientation and gender fluidity” at 38%. Thirty percent of those surveyed put concerns over parents not having enough say in their children’s education in their top four problems, and 27% included concerns over the teaching of Critical Race Theory in their top four. AFT President Randi Weingarten reacted to the poll in a speech last week before the union’s 2022 Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. She maintained that it showed people were sick of education being politicized.
“While extremist politicians are trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers by banning books, censoring curriculum and politicizing public education, we’re focused on investing in public schools and the essential knowledge and skills students need,” said Weingarten. “We’re focused on accelerating learning, not just catching up. We are fighting for the conditions students need to thrive, like state-of-the-art buildings, with good ventilation, smaller class sizes and mental health resources.” Corey DeAngelis of the American Federation for Children, a conservative school choice advocacy group, told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that he considered the findings bad news for unions like the AFT. “The results of the union-commissioned poll show that likely voters in battleground states have more confidence in Republicans than Democrats on education,” DeAngelis said.
“The results of the union poll also show that likely voters have much more confidence in teachers and parent organizations than teachers unions. Not a good look for union bosses like Randi Weingarten.” Education figured prominently in last year’s Virginia gubernatorial election, when Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe proclaimed “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” during a debate with his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin. Youngkin won the election, with exit polling by CNN showing that voters who viewed education as the most important issue facing the state favored Youngkin over McAuliffe, 53% to 47%. Furthermore, 77% of voters who wanted parents to have “a lot” of say in what public schools teach supported Youngkin, while just 22% favoured McAuliffe.
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