In this episode, we share key takeaways from our August 2020 wave of polling as reported on our EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker. We talk about the new questions we asked parents about learning pods, how parents have shifted their children’s schooling types since the pandemic and more. For more from the full report, visit edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com.
Mike McShane: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of EdChoice Chats. This is Mike McShane, Director of National Research at EdChoice. I am joined today by Paul DiPerna, Vice President of Research and guru of all things polling, and Drew Catt, Director of State Research and Special Projects, to talk about our most recent iteration of our tracker survey.
Those of you regular listeners to the podcast know every month now, we are partnering with Morning Consult, the polling firm, to survey a representative sample of Americans to talk to them about education. Luckily, because of the format of this, we’re able to ask some current events questions, which we’ll be getting into today, talking about things like the coronavirus, and schools opening back up again. Then we were also able to track some longer term trends about questions that we’re interested in related to education policy and others, which we’ll be talking about as well.
For those of you, just to get it out of the way here at the beginning, who are interested in some of the things about the poll that we’re doing, this particular poll we’ll be talking about today was in the field from August 12th to August 17th, 2020, so this was right in the middle of back to school time. Maybe some schools across the country might’ve shown up a little bit, might’ve had kids coming back a little bit earlier than that, and some might’ve been going a little later, so that’s an interesting wrinkle in this as to what’s going on. And it was a survey of 2,200 Americans, so that’s a nice, big, broad, general sample of what’s going on there.
To kick it off, I think we probably want to start with the issues that are at top of mind to just about everybody across the country right now, and talking about the coronavirus. One of the things that stood out to me, one of the questions that was asked, was about the disruption caused by the coronavirus, just in people’s lives. Just before we talk about education, before we talk about anything else, we just asked this question about how disruptive the coronavirus had been. And I was interested in this because the percentage of people who said that it was very disruptive.
When we first asked this question back in March…And we asked in looking at different levels, so we started by asking people in your own community, we talk about people in your own family, in your household routines, then we talk about your personal routines.
If we look at the community line, when we first asked this question in March, 48% of respondents said that the coronavirus had been very disruptive to their life. The next month, in April, it went up. 56% of respondents said that it had been very disruptive. But since April, each month we’ve seen it tick down.
In May, it ticked down to 48%, in June to 45%, in July to 38%, and it’s held there into August. Gentlemen, I’m interested in your responses to this, and how it makes us think about questions around school reopening and education policy. If people are seeing the coronavirus as less disruptive in their lives, are schools playing a role in this, or is this a wave that they have to ride?
Paul DiPerna: It’s great to be here with you, Mike, and Drew. And I think this is back to school time. I mean, this is like a prolonged back to school period where states have been staggered in terms of when things are going back. And so it is interesting to see that there was this escalation from March to April, and then things have been going down since, at the community level, household level, and personal level. And it seems like it’s plateaued in the last couple of waves of our survey.
And I believe this is pretty consistent with what others have found in their polling. There was a really interesting Washington Post, Ipsos, Schar School joint poll that was released, I think it was the beginning of August. It seemed to show that there was some tapering off of concern in some other polls. National polls were taking in snapshots where the heightened concern isn’t as great as it was at the start of the pandemic in March and April.
Thinking about this trend, it is interesting how that community aligned, how you pointed out, it is consistently higher than the other two, whether it’s the household level or personal level. And so right now, we’re sitting at 38% say that it’s very disruptive at the community level, and that’s the same as July. And then the percentages have held pretty steady at the household and personal levels in the low 30s, around 30%, 32%.
And so it’ll be interesting to see… This is something we plan to continue tracking in future months, and so when we get into the fall and the end of the winter, when some public health experts expect some more disruptions from COVID combined with flu incidents. And so we’ll see what happens, especially when we get into November and December, and where these lines go.
Drew Catt: Those are some great points, Paul, and thanks for hosting and having us on, Mike. I think the one interesting thing to me is when you look at the personal routine, there was that uptick from July to August. I wonder how much of that has to do with a shift in work, whether or not these are people that are involved in academia or K-12 education for their jobs, just the nature of their work is changing from July to August. I wonder how much of that is picked up… I know we don’t necessarily ask what industry folks are in, who are responding to the survey, but just something to think about of the folks that you know, and thinking about how much their personal routine has been changing in the last six weeks versus their household routine, versus your community at large.
Mike McShane: Yeah, and I think this touches on a theme that, as we’ve been looking at these polling responses over the course of the summer, just the variation that we see, that there hasn’t been this uniform coronavirus experience.
Now, we may have seen that back in April where lots and lots of people were under similar conditions because the lockdown measures that were put in place were so strict and wide ranging, but as states are back, just depending on, Drew, exactly what you were saying, depending on who you are, depending on what you do, depending on where you live, you could be having a really different experience of the coronavirus than other people.
And I think that this is something that gets short shrift in a lot of the conversations, whether it’s about back to school or really about anything else, that people are having different experiences of the coronavirus. And whenever you have people offering their opinions about what they should do or how the coronavirus has been impacting them, one of those maybe important next questions to ask is, “Well, where are you situated in all of this?”
You imagine the person who’s able to work from home, who gets their groceries delivered, whose maybe their parents or grandparents live in another city or something, they experience the coronavirus in a particular way. You have other people whose have school age kids, or who live in a rural area. I mean, you can slice and dice this any number of different ways, but people are experiencing this differently.
Paul DiPerna: Yeah, and just to follow up with that, Mike, just looking at some of the cross tabs and the demographic breakouts, there is, on this question, there are some differences, major differences between urban, suburban and rural folks. Urbanites are much more likely to say that it’s been very disruptive at any of those levels, and particularly at the community level. And then compare that with small town and rural, they were much less likely to say very disruptive. I think that’s right. There is a lot of variation on this question and some of the other questions around COVID and its effects.
Mike McShane: A next piece that was interesting, and we spent a lot of time on our last podcast talking about opinions about homeschooling as a result of the coronavirus. We asked our folks a question, “How have your opinions on homeschooling changed as a result of the coronavirus?” And the story last month was we saw this huge jump. Whereas from March to June, we saw about a quarter of respondents, ranging from 26%, 28%, 26%, 25%, depending on the month, saying that they were much more favorable to homeschooling as a result of this.
And then in July, we saw that jump dramatically. 43% of respondents now say that they are much more favorable. And I know when we were having that conversation we were thinking, “Is this a fluke? Was it just a question of the sample of people that we had?”
But interestingly, that held. Now, in August, 40% of respondents said that their opinions on homeschooling have changed, and they are much more favorable. And the somewhat more favorable stayed large as well at 28%. 68% of respondents were either somewhat or much more favorable. Do we think that this is a durable finding? Is this the new normal of impressions of homeschooling?
Paul DiPerna: I think that’s the million dollar question. And in some ways… I mean, I hate to cop out and say that it might be too early to tell, but we’re able to see this trend over what now is about a six month period. And so I’m really interested to see where that line is in terms of those who are much more favorable, where that goes over the course of the school year, especially as folks settle in on where they are enrolling their children, what types of schools, or if they are having them at home, or even maybe in learning centers that some urban districts have been creating, or pandemic pods that have been talked about a lot in the last couple of months.
And so I’m looking at where parents are on this, and especially even parents of younger kids in K-4, in elementary school, that they seem to be that much more favorable even compared to some of the parents of high schoolers and older children.
To me, it’s a really interesting finding, and it’s something that I’m anxious to see where it goes over the course of the year.
Drew Catt: I believe I brought this up on the last podcast, but I feel like I would be remiss as the former homeschooler to not point out the definition of homeschooling and how that can be different from parent to parent.
Mike McShane: That’s a really good point. And I think that a lot of this stuff is actually starting to break down as we have these conversations of what school is supposed to look like in this coming year. And so that brings us to the topic of pods.
We’ve heard this conversation come up over and over again, talking about people breaking into these pandemic pods. It’s the small, home-based schooling options, even though I guess probably they don’t necessarily even have to be based in a home. But people basically breaking away from the school system to create small schools of maybe five, six, seven, eight kids within a particular area.
And so we asked, I believe for the first time in our tracking survey, about pandemic pods. We asked the question, “As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, are you planning to form a ‘pod’ with other families?”
And, according to the school parents that we talked to, 33% said that, yes, and they’ve currently identified a pod. 14% said yes, but they were still looking to find a pod. And 53% said, no, we’re not planning to form a pod. But 33% is a huge number. That’s a huge number of people that are talking about this.
Now, do we think that, is that some irrational exuberance here? Or do we really think that a substantial number of folks in this school year are going to be pandemic podding?
Paul DiPerna: Yes. I think that the timing of the fielding always comes to my mind, especially with some of these questions about what parents are planning to do right now. We definitely plan on asking this over the next few months to see where things are, but yet the proportion saying that they’ve identified a pod, almost a third, that does really stand out.
And even those who are looking to form a pod, so you combine those two responses where it’s almost nearly half of the parents expressed at least interest in forming a pod.
And the pod term was defined for those respondents so that they weren’t just completely left out on a ledge on what the meaning might be, but we tried to follow, just to describe it, that these are parents who are organizing a learning environment for their children outside of the school.
It’s something to keep an eye on. I was looking at the demographics, and so it was interesting that there were no differences by race and ethnicity, at least on that, “Yes, we have have currently identified a pod,” where African Americans, Latinos and white parents were all responding the same way to the question.
But then we did see differences by income. And I think that some of the discussion in op-eds and writings, and in social media about some concerns about how the pandemic pods are being utilized by different income groups, we see that the higher income group is much more likely to respond that they’ve identified, so almost half of the high-income parents said that they have identified a pod in our sample.
And this is roughly, I should have said at the beginning, this is roughly a sample of just over 500 parents, to give folks a sense of the sample size and the confidence we can bring to bear on the results. Half of high-income parents said that they have identified a pod. Another 15% said that they were looking into forming a pod, so that’s almost two-thirds of high-income parents.
And then if you compare that to the low- and middle-income categories, it’s about a quarter of low income, a quarter of middle income families have identified pods. And then about 13%, 14% have said that they’re looking into forming pods. There are some differences by income. And then we also saw some interesting differences by self-identification in terms of their political leanings as well.
Mike McShane: Yeah, it seemed like, from the findings, the three characteristics that made you most likely to be forming pods are higher income, and just to put some numbers around it, we defined high income as, I believe that’s a household income of more than $75,000 a year.
Paul DiPerna: That’s right.
Mike McShane: Middle income was between $35,000 and $75,000, and low income was less than $35,000. High-income, K-4 parents, and folks from urban areas. Those were the three most likely characteristics that would push you towards podding. In an urban area, parent of a K-4 student, high income.
Drew Catt: Not to poke too many holes in the cheese, if you will, but the whole pod definition, I know that, Paul, you specify that it’s outside of school, but I wonder how many of those parents have children that are doing a hybrid, their schools are doing a hybrid approach, so they’re physically in the school one day, at home one day, or a two-day, two-day approach, what have you.
I wonder how many of those are parents that are having a hybrid pod, so the student is physically going to school on those days, but when they’re doing their virtual learning days, those are the pod days, such as taking turns whose house they go to, so all the kids are learning together.
Paul DiPerna: And just anecdotally, and just where we are, our girls have been in school for almost a month now. And just talking with neighbors, friends, there is some of that happening, where at least on those days, where we have this mixed approach for the 5th through 12th graders, they’re in person a couple days a week, and then three days a week they’re at home, they’re supposed to be at home online learning.
And then I know that there are parents who have organized very small, two to three, four kids getting together so that they’re all under the same roof, but still also doing the online learning.
We provided a definition of what a pod is, but it still could be interpreted in different ways. And this is one of those. It’s like that researcher’s playbook or whatever, but I think there’s just a lot more to be explored around pods, particularly around parent opinions and experiences. And I’m hopeful. There are some other really good surveys that are, outside of what we do at EdChoice, with Morning Consult and others, are also doing surveys around schooling and around COVID, and I hope that they also ask, maybe in different ways, about pods as well.
Mike McShane: I think an interesting bit of evidence to back up that hypothesis, we also asked some open-ended questions about podding and opinions on that. And for those parents who identified that they were interested in forming a pod, the top themes of that were that, number one, they thought that it was safer than attending schools in person. Number two was having more socialization for children. Number three, networking for parents. But number four is a good supplement to e-learning.
And we actually pulled out a particular quote that a parent said, “For online learning to work, social interaction of some type must take place. Pods are one of the several ways to do this with kids.” Pods could be this location where kids are doing e-learning together, or are, that’s when they’re on their home days versus their days in school.
Now, interestingly, those who were not interested in forming a pod, their top themes were that they think that it’s unsafe, or it could be potential exposure to COVID-19, that it’s unnecessary for older children, they were unable to find others to participate in the with, or they had never heard of it.
But this leads us to this other question when, I mean, part of it is definitional, but part of it is just the behavior of parents. We did ask some questions about school switching. And Morning Consult put together a really cool figure for us that I would direct everyone to, to see where we were able to look at these flows, where we start on the left-hand side, where it says the types of schools that people attended, and then what school they attended in the future. And you can see how many people went from where to where.
It seems that, for all of school parents, just under a quarter switched schools this year, so about 22% switched. And this is relatively consistent. It was K-4 parents, it was 23%, 5-8 it was 24%, 9-12 parents, it was 18%. We’re seeing up to a quarter of parents moving their children in school this year. And those movements were not just within one sector, but were actually between sectors as well. I’d be interested to get your responses to this switching that’s taking place and how it’s taking place.
Drew Catt: I think it’s interesting the way that the grades were switched out, because I wonder how many of those were structural changes, like going from elementary school to middle school, going from junior high to high school, or even an intermediate school to a junior high. But having said that, the thing that sticks out to me is the bump in homeschooling. And that’s parents from every other sector going into homeschooling to increase the bump. What are your thoughts on that, Paul?
Paul DiPerna: I have a lot of disjointed dots about… It’s fascinating to me that, basically, if you just looked at the numbers from where kids were in February, and where parents are saying their kids are going right now, the numbers are pretty stable. But there is… And that’s one nice thing that Morning Consult was able to do for us was to show the flows in-between, and you still see, even on there, that what looks like stability at two different points in time, there is actually a lot of movement between those two, and especially across sectors.
And so our largest proportion of students are from public district schools. And we see that a decent proportion are moving from public district schools to homeschooling, some to charter schools, some to private schools, but more, there’s a higher, larger proportion going from district to homeschool than to those other types this school year.
And so I think, I feel like we’re scratching the surface here, and this is another one where I just would love to see us, if we can, go a little bit deeper maybe in the coming months to see, to have a better understanding of this shift, but also to, hopefully others will be able to… Maybe this will give us some ideas in terms of looking at this school sector switching from pre-pandemic to while we’re in the throes of the pandemic. And then eventually, hopefully, at some point next year, where we can start saying post-pandemic, or at post-COVID disruption.
And so, going back to the numbers that Mike had pointed out about the roughly, the quarter of those who said they were switching. And it’s not just switching schools, but it’s switching the type of school. They may be going from elementary to middle or middle to high school, but we’re capturing who would be actually switching into what sectors, the sector switchers, which rings a bell, Mike. I think you had a report called Sector Switchers a while ago, which was an [crosstalk 00:21:16]-
Mike McShane: Lo those many years ago.
Paul DiPerna: I know. These days it seems like eons ago, but it was a great report though, that you and Andrew Kelly did, looking at just… And a different [inaudible 00:21:28], a different premise than what we’re talking about here, but that’s what we were really trying to get at, was looking at the sector switchers, and to see that it’s about a quarter, at least in our sample. And I think it is interesting. It’s higher than I would have expected. Even with the disruptions, it’s still a little bit higher than I would have expected. But I’m interested in what you guys think.
Mike McShane: I’m interested, actually, in the private school number here, because given when we asked these questions, and looking retrospectively, seeing that people most likely leaving private, we saw the decrease in private school enrollment, people going to other places. Part of me thinks that that’s a reflection of what went on in the spring, which was that public schools and private schools basically offered the same thing, which was online learning. Now, some did better than others, and some, there was variation in there, but I think lots and lots of families, when we also saw the economy collapsing and everything, were saying, “We got to get out of private school. If it’s going to be online, we’ll just go to public school and that’s fine.”
This fall, I think one of the things that we’re seeing, at least anecdotally, I don’t know if there’s been any systematic look at this, but that more private schools seem to be opening for in-person instruction while more private schools are remaining remote or doing some sort of hybrid plan. This fall, we’re actually seeing differentiation between those two sectors. I’ll be really interested to see, as we look at this moving forward, how that change. Because it seems to me that there’s a pretty clear explanation for what happened in the spring, and it will be interesting if that holds up in the fall.
Drew Catt: I would say the thing that stuck out to me, especially for those of you who are maybe listening to this while you’re going for a jog or driving your car and don’t necessarily have the beautiful flow chart in front of you, from February to the school type attending this new year, it seems that about a third of those who are reporting homeschool for the current year were previous homeschoolers.
And then it gets really interesting, because after that it seems a pretty even split between former charter parents, former private school parents and former district school parents in terms of the flow into homeschool. That’s really interesting to me that it’s not necessarily a bunch of the private school, former private school students that are being homeschooled, or predominantly district school students or predominantly charter school students, but it seems like it’s a fairly even mix of each from those who were not homeschooling in February.
Paul DiPerna: That stood out to me too, Drew, and I think that is really interesting, just to see… For me, the top line, or the big message to me was, it seemed like the homeschoolers in February, and this is before lockdowns and stuff, so these are the traditional homeschoolers, or conventional homeschoolers, they appear to be most likely to switch from year to year.
And maybe that’s because of the pandemic, and in COVID, and what’s happening right now. But this is something that’s, it seems suggested that homeschoolers may be more prone to switching sectors than other types. But I think that’s much more of a longitudinal question that would have to be investigated after we get past the brunt of the pandemic.
But yeah, that stood out to me, too. It’s really interesting to just see where homeschoolers have gone from last year to this year.
Mike McShane: As we bring this in for a landing here, I do want to just ask a couple of the general questions, or bring up some of the general questions that we’ve been asking, we will continue to ask, that I think are interesting, all this stuff happens in the background.
A pretty standard survey question we’ve asked, and I know in the Schooling in America survey for years, we see it across other surveys of things, but the classic question of, again, a right track, wrong track of American education.
And so we ask this question, “Do you feel things in K-12 education are generally going in the right direction? Or do you feel things have generally gotten off on the wrong track?”
When we look at the percentage of people who say right track, before all of this happened, back in January, about 35% of people said that their local school district was in the right direction. 31% said their state and 22% said the nation.
Now, interestingly, throughout February and March and peaking in April, we saw almost half, 46% of people said their local school district was on the right track, 44% said their state was, and up to 36% said that the nation was. And then we saw a decline back to roughly where we started. Maybe the nation’s a little bit higher than where it was at 29% in August compared to 22% in January. The state is a couple points higher, 35% as opposed to 31%, and the local school district is at 38% instead of 35%.
But I’m interested in your reactions to that wave that we saw, steadily building up, peaking in April, and then coming down May, June, July and August. Have we regressed to the mean? Are we going somewhere different? Are we going to see an increase again? What do we think is driving that?
Paul DiPerna: That’s a really good question. It seems like we’re… We are, right now, at least as of August, where we typically see these numbers based on other polling that we’ve done, so these numbers look a lot more familiar.
I’d be interested in Drew… We’ve worked together on the Schooling in America poll for some time now, but it looks like we’re about where we have been in previous years. And I can’t, off the top of my head, remember what we just reported for the Wave 1 of Schooling in America, but I think it was right around here, in this ballpark of roughly three out of 10 to a third believing that the K-12 education’s going in the right direction. But as far as the trend on this survey that we do with Morning Consult, it does seem like there was a rally around the school… And this is my interpretation. I’d love to hear what you guys think, and others, too. There was a rally around the school effect in April, where… but that was right when the lockdowns were occurring, and there was a big shift in transition from in-person schooling to remote and online learning.
And so the differences between district, state and national have been pretty consistent over time. And they each got that bump, too. Significant bump, especially compared to the beginning of the year in April. But then, like you said, Mike, it’s gone back down to where we are today, %around 30 to 38% at the district level in terms of positive sentiment.
And then we’ll just see over the course of this school year, and since there is so much variation now for what schools are doing, we can even dig into the demographics some more.
Then, just along those lines, parents do tend to be more optimistic and positive than the general population, which we generally report, in which we tend to report. Parents tend to be more positive, and it will be interesting to see if they look differently, especially in the rate of change over time compared to the national sample.
Drew Catt: And so, talking about those Schooling in America numbers, which, if you’re interested in seeing what they look like longitudinally, that report just came out on our website yesterday, so feel free to go check it out. But overall, and Schooling in America, we only ask about the United States. We don’t dive into your specific state or district. For the 2020 Schooling in America survey, it was 40% of the general population that said right direction, and slightly higher, about 47% of parents.
And then, when you’re looking over time, this is actually the highest percentage for school… and looking at Schooling in America, of parents that actually said right direction. We’ve been more consistent over wrong track, but over time there’s actually been a decrease of those who are saying that they don’t know, or they refuse, or for the online instrument, they skip it.
And it is fascinating. Compared to the last two years for Schooling in America, 2018 was 35%, 2019 was 37%, so a lot of it could also be slightly different sampling procedures, slightly different populations. All that to say that some of these nationwide percentages may actually be lower than what I was anticipating, compared to our annual survey.
Paul DiPerna: And just real quick, for specific points of reference for folks, what we just released for our annual Schooling in America poll, that fieldwork actually happened in May, late May to very early June. And so, for anyone who really wants to get into the wonky details, or to compare the two different polling projects that we do EdChoice. Looking at the trend, you’d want to compare that to what we picked up around May and June here on the Morning Consult monthly tracker.
But I think that’s right. I think that what we’ve found in Schooling in America was a little bit higher than what we found here, but the trends are interesting and they’re pretty consistent with what we see across the two projects.
Mike McShane: And one last trend to talk about is about school spending. There’s been this huge conversation, as schools get started again, the types of money that might need to be spent to bring them up into compliance with social distancing and PPE or any other technology that needs to be used, and others.
We’ve been asking this question about school spending. We ask the question, asking people about their own state, whether they think that the amount of money that’s spent on schools is too high or too low. And interesting, we split the sample, where we ask some people just that question generally, “Is the spending too high or too low?” And then, for another group of people, we actually tell them how much their state spends.
And one of the things that we found, and everybody has found over the years, is that when you give people the actual information of how much is spent on schools, the number of people saying that spending is too low drops.
But one of the things that I find in looking at the trend, just within our own sampling, starting in January, 64% of people, without information, said that spending is too low. And in every iteration of this survey since then, it has ticked downward. By now, it’s actually down to just 49%. Just 49% of people, down from 64%, again, unprompted, say that spending is too low.
And when we actually give the information, interestingly, that trend line looks much like what we were just talking about with the overall right track, wrong track, where it starts again at a lower base of about 40%. And it was trending slightly downward, but then peaked in April again, only to track back down, even lower than it was before. In January, about 40% of people thought it was too low. In March, it was only 36%, only to jump up to 47% in April, but back down to 31% in May, and now it’s down to just 28%. When given information, just 28% of respondents think that that spending level is too low.
How do we make sense of all of this? How do we make sense of the general decline, just even of the naive way of looking at it without any information? And then how do we look that, given that information now, we’ve seen such a decline?
Drew Catt: I think, at least for me, I think I’m going to call it the shuttered bounce, if you will. In April, pretty much every school in America was closed, more or less. Not in every single state, but I would say the sheer majority of schools were not open for daily in-person instruction. I wonder how much of a shift that had, and parents realizing how valuable their child going to a physical school actually is, having to do it all themselves at home, even if there is the online learning. And for a lot of parents, who haven’t been in a classroom themselves in a long time, realizing how much actually goes into this, and then thinking from there, salaries and how much everything costs. I don’t know. What do you think, Paul?
Paul DiPerna: It is interesting. This is consistent with what we have picked up in Schooling in America for the last eight years. And also this is other the state-level polling that we’ve been doing for a long time, and Drew, you’ve been at the forefront of that for some time now too. Where this is a consistent finding where it’s in that 15 to 20 point difference between having information and not having information, and the effect that it can have, the reduction that will occur if you give somebody just the statistic about per-student spending in their state.
If you look at the May numbers, May/June numbers, here with our Morning Consult monthly tracking poll, and compare that to what we just released in Schooling in America, which also was fielded in that mid-May to early June, those are very consistent.
In the first wave of Schooling in America, we saw the difference was about 14-point gap, or 14-point reduction, when giving respondents that specific information about per-student spending. And here we see that that’s roughly been the case. In some way, if there was a bigger gap, even about 20 points, 15 to 20 points over time, most recently, that’s that about 21 points, where 49% would say too low without information, and 28% would say the spending’s too low with information.
This is definitely a consistent finding, I think, and that trend downward, it does, in terms of implications, and Mike, I think that was the thrust of your question, was just, “What could this imply moving forward?” I think it has huge implications. We are starting to see the drumbeat of a lot of the usual school funding arguments and assertions and claims that are being made, that have been made for a very long time.
And that has taken shape, it seems, appears, in the last couple of months. But as we head into the election, and then post-election, with next year being a budget session for many state legislatures, there’s going to be a lot of talk about school funding, what’s adequate, what’s enough in the current environment, and looking forward. And also I think parents, the more that they do, and help, or at least facilitate the learning for their kids at home, whether it’s on their own with pods with other parents, or if it’s at least assisting the schools with facilitating remote learning, which a lot of K-4, K-5 parents are probably doing, at least speaking from personal experience, that’s definitely something that we’re involved with.
I think that that could shape how people view spending even more. And so that’ll be interesting to see how these trend lines… Will they continue to both go down, and will the gap get even bigger? Or will it shrink, and will they converge a little bit, where it doesn’t really matter as much on what that actual spending is, and it’s just the overall feeling that people have about funding in general, or spending in general.
Drew Catt: It does make me as to how many folks out there think that it should be the school providing the computer to the child, which I’m all for, up to a certain income level, most definitely. But I wonder how much that technology in general, as was mentioned, really comes into play. Because at-home learning without computer access is pretty much impossible. And, although a lot of districts do have one-to-one device plans and policies, a lot of districts still don’t.
Mike McShane: Well, friends. It was great chatting with you on this one. And so folks, as these things are percolating in your minds as well, and we think about how these trends might or might not continue into the future, fear not, we shall be here with you every step of the way, continuing to survey people, continuing to share and chat about the results. And we’ll see. We’ll see how, as folks go back to school, how some of these opinions may change or may stay the same.
We’ll look at how some of these folks have reacted, and we’ll be able to see whether their actions match their opinions and, I think, generate a lot of really interesting information as we go forward.
Paul, Drew, it’s been a great pleasure chatting with you. And for everyone listening at home, look forward to chatting with all of you again on another edition of EdChoice Chats.