With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the final stretch of the semester within sight, it is the season to pause and take stock of what Americans and parents are thankful for this year— and what challenges face K-12 education this fall.
In partnership with Morning Consult, EdChoice surveyed a nationally representative sample of American adults 18 and older (N = 2,251) from October 12-16, 2023. With additional sampling, we obtained responses from 1,271 parents of children currently in K-12 education.
We asked a range of questions focused on K-12 education, including our usual monitoring of public opinion toward school choice options. In this month’s poll, we also introduced new questions about gifted academic programs and education technology.
Here are seven key takeaways from the report:
1. Most parents say computer use has positively impacted their child’s learning experience, but far fewer parents feel the same about cell phone use. Nearly 8 in 10 parents (77%) reported that computer or laptop use has had a positive effect on their child’s learning, with nearly a third (29%) saying computer use has been very positive. This indicates a sizeable majority of parents who are optimistic about education technology. By contrast, about half (55%) of parents described cell phone use as being a positive influence on their child’s social-emotional development. In our recent survey of K-12 teachers, only 16 percent of teachers said that cell phone use positively impacts student development.
2. Many parents express concern that their child overuses technology. Across grade levels, almost 40 percent of parents say their child spends too much time using technology. The number of parents worried about tech overuse increases slightly by grade level, with high school parents being the most likely to report that their child spends too much time using technology.
3. Parents support parental consent laws to limit social media use among minors. A large majority (70%) of parents say they support state and federal laws requiring parental consent for minors to access social media platforms. Nearly two out of three (61%) parents support requiring students to leave their cell phones in their lockers during school hours. The significant support for these measures aligns with parents’ concerns about the impact of social media use on children’s mental health. Almost half (46%) of parents feel extremely or very concerned about negative effects on mental health, and only 12 percent indicated that they are not concerned.
4. Half of parents report having at least one child enrolled in an advanced/gifted class. One in two (49%) parents report that their child takes at least one gifted, advanced, or honors class at school. Academic advancement comes in many forms. Honors classes are the most common, with 43 percent of parents reporting that their child participates in honors coursework. About a third of parents have students taking gifted or college credit courses, and 15 percent say their child takes Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes.
5. Parents express a gloomier outlook on the future than they did in September. Each month, we provide parents with a list of descriptive words to see how they feel about the future and their general wellbeing. Parents remain generally more positive than non-parents across all our wellbeing indicators, and 61 percent say they feel hopeful about the future. However, parents are more pessimistic across the board this month, with a greater number of them reporting feelings of frustration (19%), dread (14%), dissatisfaction (17%), and being overwhelmed (25%). That said, parents are consistently more optimistic about the direction of K-12 education than the general population, whose positive views on education fell sharply in October. Only a third of all adults (33%) say things are going in the right direction in their local school district.
6. Nearly 60 percent of parents say their child’s school provides mental health services to students who need them. Most parents (58%) say their child’s school offers mental health services. Compared to district schools, this type of support is more common at private schools (68%) and charter schools (64%). About half (47%) of parents whose child’s school does not provide mental health services would like this support to be offered.
7. School parents and the general public continue to show support for school choice policies. Holding steady with September numbers, about 70 percent of parents and 60 percent of all adults support ESAs, school vouchers, charter schools, and open enrollment. Support for ESAs remains particularly stable, with school parents seven times as likely to strongly support ESAs than strongly oppose them.
Read the full report.
Visit the EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker site to access past reports, crosstabs, and questionnaires. We update our national and state dashboards every month. 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.