Moms’ Perspectives on Schooling

This Mother’s Day, let’s take the time to consider how moms across the country are feeling about education and the future more broadly. The numbers paint a clear picture; Moms are much more concerned than Dads about how things are going at school.

In partnership with Morning Consult, EdChoice surveyed a nationally representative sample of American adults 18 and older (N = 2,257) from April 4-8, 2024. With additional sampling, we obtained responses from 1,302 parents of children currently in K–12 education.

We asked the general public and K–12 school parents a range of questions on school choice policies and various classroom issues. Check back for the full report releasing next week, including what American school parents have to say about microschooling.

In the meantime, here’s what we learned from moms:

Mothers are much more pessimistic about the direction of education than fathers. In April, 37% of all parents said that K–12 education is generally going in the right direction at the national level. But taking a closer look, only 28% of mothers feel like education is going in the right direction, compared to almost half of fathers who feel optimistic (48%). The same twenty percentage point difference between women and men shows up when we ask about the direction of education at the state (36% vs 56%) and local school district (47% vs. 66%) level.

Moms also tend to be less satisfied with their own kids’ experiences with school. This is true across school types, though the difference is even more pronounced when it comes to private school. Thirty-one percent of women feel very satisfied with their child’s experiences in public district school, compared to 41% of men. Among private school parents, half of mothers (50%) and 70% of fathers say they are very satisfied with their kids’ experiences. While our sample sizes are smaller at this level of detail, the split between men and women is especially striking when we further narrow it down to religious private school parents. Here we see that 78% of men and 48% of women feel very satisfied with their child’s school.

Another major area of concern for mothers is school safety. Significantly fewer moms than dads feel that their child’s school handles these types of issues “very” or “somewhat” well. This difference in perspective can be seen when we ask parents about how well the school handles bullying (44% vs. 55%), mental health (46% vs. 56%), violent behaviors (45% vs. 57%), and guns (49% vs. 62%). Consistently, we see that a majority of men feel like these safety concerns are handled well at school, whereas women express less confidence.

Similarly, mothers report that social media has a more negative impact on their kids than fathers think. In general, male school parents tend to think social media has an overall positive effect on their kids’ physical health (61%), mental health (64%), family relationships (68%), peer relationships (72%), academic performance (62%), and self-confidence (66%). In contrast, mothers tend to see social media as a more neutral or even negative influence on kids’ physical health (42%), mental health (43%), family relationships (52%), peer relationships (57%), academic performance (41%), and self-confidence (50%).

Overall, mothers are concerned for the future of education. Moreover, female school parents tend to feel less optimistic about the future in general when compared to their male counterparts (43% vs. 62%). They’re also less happy (49% vs. 64%), more frustrated (24% vs. 14%), less hopeful (59% vs. 72%), and more overwhelmed (32% vs. 15%).

So, this Mother’s Day, spare a moment to think about what we can learn from mothers about how to improve our schools—and perhaps spare a kind word for a mother you know.

Visit the EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker site to access past reports, crosstabs, questionnaires, and our national and state dashboards. All are updated monthly. We also provide a more in-depth description of our research and survey methods.

Our K–12 education polls archive is updated on a rolling basis, roughly a few times each month. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we are missing any surveys, or if there are accidental errors.