Poll: Parent Support for Online Learning Surges

Student Thilo makes home-office for his computer science job in his room of a flat-sharing in Dortmund, western Germany, on March 27, 2020, amidst the pandemic of the new coronavirus COVID-19. - There's group yoga in the morning, homemade pizza in the evening and always someone to borrow toilet paper …
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

A poll at quarterly pro-education reform journal Education Next revealed an overwhelming majority of parents support some online classes for their high school-age children.

According to the survey, published in the journal’s Summer 2020 issue, 73 percent – a 17-percentage point increase since 2009 – of parents said they are willing to have their high school-age children take some classes online.

“The growth in approval for online schooling for secondary school students is even more dramatic among the public as a whole, for whom the share willing to have a child take such courses rose to 71% from 54% during the past 10 years,” Education Next stated.

The poll results are published as teachers in school districts across the United States are staging “sickouts,” striking, and resigning from their posts amid the recommendations of many experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that children should return to schools that have health and safety precautions in place.

According to the poll, parents also said they support their high school student taking 11 of 24 courses online, a 22 percent increase since 2017, when parents said 9 online courses would be acceptable.

Additionally, those parents whose children encountered a satisfactory remote learning experience during the coronavirus pandemic expressed greater willingness to have their high schooler take online classes. Among those parents most satisfied with online learning during the school shutdowns, 85 percent said they would be willing to have their children continue with some online classes, while 58 percent who were least satisfied said they would do the same.

Last week, Education Next also reported that, to date, 35 of the nation’s 50 largest public school districts, or 70 percent, have chosen a totally remote learning model that drops in-school instruction for their students.

Christopher Cleveland reviewed the plans of districts that “educate more than five million children,” and wrote district leaders concluded “in-person instruction is either medically or politically too risky or logistically too difficult to execute in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The latest survey of parents was conducted from May 14 to May 20, 2020, by the polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs via its KnowledgePanel®. In its KnowledgePanel®, Ipsos Public Affairs maintains a nationally representative panel of adults (obtained via address-based sampling techniques) who agree to participate in a limited number of online surveys.

The margin of error for binary responses given by respondents in the main sample in the survey is approximately 1.5 percentage points for questions on which opinion is evenly split.

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