Voters cite pandemic learning recovery, scant school funding, lack of practical or technical instruction, need for mental health support for students and teacher shortages as the top five concerns facing K-12 schools, according to a poll released Tuesday by the National Education Association.
These top concerns overlap with those of public school parents, who also cited many of the same issues as challenges for public schools. The nationally representative poll of 1,400 likely November 2024 voters was conducted by GBAO Strategies, a public opinion research and political strategy firm.
This is similar to findings from a 2022 NEA poll, also conducted by GBAO, that found the same issues as top-of-mind for voters.
Curriculum issues that have divided the nation in the past few years and made headlines during election cycles are lower on that list.
When curriculum issues did arise, more parents surveyed said that "too many politicians are banning books or topics they don't like, like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Holocaust," than they were to say that "too many schools are teaching Critical Race Theory in order to be politically correct."
States nationwide are passing education-related policies on hot button issues like curriculum and LGBTQ+ rights, combined with COVID-19's impact on education, making K-12 ripe for public interest. These and other education issues have taken center stage in recent election cycles, a trend that persists as politicians rev up their campaigns for 2024.
“Across America, most of us want the same thing – strong public schools where all students, no matter their race, ZIP code, or background, have the resources and opportunities to grow into their full brilliance," said NEA president Becky Pringle in a statement Tuesday.
The poll's findings come just prior to the first Republican presidential debate, set to take place Wednesday.