Ep. 227: Monthly Tracker Results – November 2020 - EdChoice

Ep. 227: Monthly Tracker Results – November 2020

December 9, 2020

In this episode, we share key takeaways from our November 2020 wave of polling as reported on our EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker. For more from the full report, visit edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This transcript was updated on Dec. 22, 2020, to reflect an error in data processing on the question about how much parents are willing to spend per month on learning pods for their children. With this correction, the actual estimate is about three times larger than what was originally reported—$457 versus $138. 

Mike McShane: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another edition of EdChoice Chats. I’m Mike McShane, director of national research at EdChoice, and we have today another installment of our Monthly Tracker podcast. So as many of you are familiar with—I hope at this point—every month, we, along with Morning Consult, survey a representative sample of Americans. Every quarter, we survey a representative sample of teachers, but the conversation that we will be having today with my friends and colleagues, Paul DiPerna and John Kristof, is about the most recent iteration of our general population survey.

And this is going to be an interesting one. One of the things that we’ve talked about kind of over and over again on these podcasts is how many of the things that we have been tracking as one might imagine taken month by month, how much they’ve held steady for the past four or five or six months. That’s going to change a bit. And on several of the things that we have been tracking that had been holding constant, we saw actually some big changes this month.

And we can imagine, we’re obviously recording this at the beginning of December. There’s lots of stuff happening out in the world. Lots of things happening around the election, around the coronavirus. There’s lots of stuff kind of happening in the background. That’d be interesting as we sort of have this conversation that maybe some of that stuff is getting picked up now, but I want to start, gentlemen with a question we’ve been asking in our schooling in America survey, we’ve asked at every iteration of the tracker podcasts that we’ve done, it’s just a classic question, obviously, of surveying and of polling, it’s the right track, wrong track, right? How many people think that the K-12 education is heading in the right direction versus how many people think that it is heading in the wrong direction?

And one of the interesting things that we found was during the early days of the pandemic. We saw really big increases in the percentage of people who thought that the American education system, that their state education system and that their local, we ask all three of those questions kind of nationwide in their state and then their locality, the percentage of people saying that those three were going in the right direction, saw very large increases as the coronavirus sort of swept across the United States.

So 0f we think from when we first started asking this question in January, the sort of nationwide right direction percentage was 22%. So 22% of Americans thought that the American education system was heading in the right direction. By the time we asked this in April, it’s gone up to 36%. So really substantial increase. And we saw both of those trends, mirrored in both local and state opinions. That ticked down a little bit over the summertime, but had basically held steady throughout kind of June, July, August, September, October, but in this most recent iteration, we saw a precipitous drop back down to 23%.

So the national right now only 23% of respondents thought that the national education system was heading in the right direction. Only 31% thought that their state was heading in the right direction. And only 33% thought that their local school district was heading in the right direction. So, Paul, I’ll start with you. You’ve been looking at these types of questions for some time now, our resident polling guru, what do you make of all of this? Is this kind of a regression to the mean where we’re back to where we started? Do you think that there are some outside factors that are influencing this? What do you think is happening this time?

Paul DiPerna: Hey, it’s great to be here with both of you, Mike and John, and that’s a good question. So we have, like you had mentioned, we’ve been asking this question in our annual survey for quite some time. And then now this past year, we’ve been asking monthly with Morning Consult for the tracker. And so, what we’ve seen historically in our annual polling, that, that right direction response, when people are thinking about K-12 education nationally has been in that 25 to 30% range.

So, the dip that we’ve seen, this 10-point slide on the national right direction response, I mean, that’s pretty significant. And we haven’t seen that kind of movement certainly on an annual basis in our schooling in America poll, but even, looking at the, over the last year and on our monthly tracker, we haven’t seen inflections and any increases or decreases of that magnitude. And so that is something that drew my eye and even also for the opinion on right direction for their local school district, or when thinking about K-12 statewide, those also went down locally by seven percentage points since October, and then by another seven points when people were thinking statewide.

So to me, this does seem like something to keep our eyes on. And it would be really, I think, unique to see if it goes down any further this month in December. Our new poll is going to go in the field later this week. And so that’s something that we’ll continue to keep our eye on.

Mike McShane: And just as a point of reference, so the high point for the local school district back in April was 46%. So 46% of folks back in April thought that their local school district was on the right track, for the state it was 44%. And so, that’s gone from 46% for local school district down to 33% from 44% for the state down to 31%. So, John, what do you make of all of this? I mean, part of me says, we’ve had a very contentious election, the coronavirus is running rampant. Maybe people are just naturally pessimistic about the world, but I look back and it’s like, could you have been possibly more pessimistic than in March and April when they’re pulling a hospital ship into New York Harbor?

So was that kind of a rally around the flag and now it’s a realization? I don’t know. I struggled to make sense of all of this.

John Kristof: I’m glad you brought all those different examples. And thank you for having me back on the podcast first off, but I see a pretty consistent narrative throughout a lot of these results, and we’re going to get to a lot of these, but when you break down the results by whether the respondents are parents or non-parents, I think we get an even stronger trend here. So in our survey, we were able to ask the same question and break it down by parents or non-parents, and the drop in optimism, as significant as it is across all respondents, it is even more significant if you narrow it down to parents specifically,

What that communicates to me is that it’s not just the discussion about politics and it’s not necessarily just COVID-related or the politics around COVID or things like that, I think it’s a signal that maybe parents are seeing something specifically close hand. The fact that parents looking at their local school districts, which normally, and still is where we see the most optimism among school parents, confidence in their local K-12 districts dropped from 51% to a majority to 48%, confidence in the state was 51 to 40, and then confidence nationwide dropped from 48% to 32%.

That is a massive swing. And the fact that parents have such a stronger shift makes me think that they’re seeing something in particular, maybe as COVID was getting worse and we were thinking about, and some schools we’re talking about lockdowns again, or rather closing down school and going entirely to virtual, some never went on to virtual and maybe parents are getting tired or we’re going to get into those results later. But I think parents are seeing something particular. It’s not just external political factors.

Paul DiPerna: And just to follow up with that, I think that’s totally right. And that’s a really good observation about where school parents are. And this is where timing of these surveys can be so sensitive and play a factor because this poll was in the field from November 12th to the 18th, that really coincided a lot with what we were reading about these big districts who were going from in-person to hybrid or hybrid to remote or stay continuing remote for some time.

And so it seemed like there were some decisions and more media attention that was focusing on going back to remote and these potential for lockdowns and school districts to change their policies. So that’s another thing that I would just put out there too is the timing also, even on a monthly basis, I mean, everything’s so fluid that it can really play a factor too.

Mike McShane: No. I mean, I think I’m really glad that both of you talked about parents because another big change that we saw, I know I’m just trying to think of how many times on this podcast where each month we’ve looked at these data and talked about them, where we’ve said, look, there’s this really interesting finding that parents are basically evenly split on their comfort in sending kids back to school. And frankly, it was teachers too, it was basically a 50/50 split, right?

We saw some 53, 47s, some 52, 48s or whatever, but about half the parents felt comfortable sending their kids back to school or on the flip side, half of parents didn’t. One of the things that I found interesting was that in this most recent iteration of the survey, now, a majority of parents are uncomfortable with their children returning to school. There is a 12-point decrease in the total percentage of people who are comfortable from October.

So now only 42% of parents, so that’s taking sort of very comfortable along with somewhat comfortable. So all of the people who are comfortable, it has now dipped down to only 42% of parents feel that they are comfortable sending their children back to school. So what do we think? I mean, I think there’s sort of two interesting questions to this. What do we think is happening there? And I think both Paul and John, you both gave us some hints into this where it’s like, well, schools might be making some changes, coronavirus cases are on the rise, that, that’s happening in there.

But then there’s also just a general, I don’t know, I mean, this sort of general thought of parents’ confidence in their schools, trust in the schools to be able to keep kids safe. John, when you look at this number, particularly the decreases from October, what do you see?

John Kristof: Similarly, to what I mentioned before is I think parents are seeing something a little bit different and some of this is due to COVID more broadly, but I think something that has happened in the period of our survey in November, that maybe hadn’t had happened when we were doing the survey back in October, was fall break, travel, and returns, and some schools, not all and I found it difficult to necessarily track where this happens, but anecdotally I know of some schools where COVID protocols seem to keep everything under wraps for a while.

But if some parents are planning on traveling for fall break and coming back, essentially once something starts, it’s harder to keep under control if you will. And I think that there’s probably some parents who started experiencing that with their own kids and some other parents who, even if it didn’t happen with their own kids, it happened to someone they knew. I don’t know if that explains the entire swing because that is a pretty massive one. But to me, I mean, that’s the biggest shift, single point shift besides cases growing overall is when we have started seeing if there is going to be a school that does have an outbreak, you kind of see it following fall break, which happens since our last poll.

Mike McShane: Yeah. That’s a great point, John. So it is going to be interesting. So I suspect there is this kind of interaction with other things. So this November wave would pick up any kind of post fall break kind of leeriness about, or maybe potential outbreaks that have occurred from people traveling for fall break or what have you. And then this is going to be something to continue watching because the polling that’s going to go in the field here in the next week or so that’ll pick up any post Thanksgiving break kind of considerations.

And then when we do our poll in January, that’ll be after the holidays in the new year, so that could also play into, or just compound over time, parents like reticence to have their kids returned.

John Kristof: And just to add to that too. I feel like it’s worth noting, another question that we ask parents is when they think that the outbreak will be controlled enough to send their students back to in-person school. And again, for awhile, we had seen a pretty even split of about, in the next month or two, three or four months away, or, February, March or later. And we had seen that pretty evenly split for a while.

And our results of this month were unusual in that two thirds of parents said that they didn’t think it was going to be safe until February or later, which easily was the most pessimistic as far as presuming the feeling of getting back to school earlier is a good thing. If possible, there’s more pessimism now than we’ve ever seen before as well about projections of when school will be safe. As we’ve been saying, I just wanted to bring that up because I think those two poll answers are very real.

Mike McShane: Yes. Speaking of pessimism, as we’re just going to keep the pessimism train rolling here, another kind of interesting departure from other things that we’ve seen is, again, something that you have heard me say, if you’ve heard this monthly podcast over and over, one of these particularly interesting findings that we’ve had is how much more keen people aren’t on homeschooling.

We’ve asked this question, how have your opinions on homeschooling changed as a result of the coronavirus, and over the summer, we saw a huge jump. So while, kind of in March, April, May, June, we were in the kind of mid 20s. So 26, 28, 26, 25, somewhere in there, up in July, it jumps up to 43%. Suddenly 43% are very positive. So it was the kind of highest thing they could rate. And it sort of tipped down from there. It went from 43, then it was 40. Then it was 36, it held at 36.

Well, the sort of bottom fell out this month and it’s down to only 27%. So it’s basically right back where we started asking this question in March. So was that little blip that we saw, was that just a sort of, again, is this like a regression to the mean thing that we’re kind of going back to normal? Do we expect these things to change? Paul, what do we think happened there?

Paul DiPerna: Mike, I mean, I think, and this is speculation, but I wonder if there is a fatigue that’s happening. And so the more that parents are getting a taste for remote schooling, they associate that with homeschooling, which is very different. I mean, they are different ideas where remote schooling, the district is still, more or less controls the curriculum. And the teachers are the ones who are introjecting, where homeschooling, conventional, traditional homeschooling, the parents, they oversee that curriculum, that instruction.

But I wonder if respondents are conflating the two. And so that there’s this sentiment based on these experiences for those who are either hybrid or remote, that they are associating that, now a few months into the school year with homeschooling. And so that’s one reason why perhaps we’ve seen that drop over the last few months.

Mike McShane: John, you’re seeing the same things? What do you think?

John Kristof: Yeah, I think this is another symptom of parents are tired in a lot of ways. And I do want to qualify this by saying I did look at this graph for a while and I compared it to the graph that we had last month. And I think specifically a large portion of the swing seems to be from the percentage of people who are quote much more favorable, maybe swinging to the somewhat more favorable if you will.

So if you combine those two categories, there’s still a pretty clear majority of parents saying that they are favorable to homeschooling. I think we just saw an incredible level of enthusiasm for parents taking more leadership in their kids’ schooling or a more active role, I should say in June when we were a couple of months into lockdown, a lot of people were not working, were not going out to work if you will. And work schedules have shifted and things like that. And it’s been several months in, and maybe some parents are still happy to be very involved, but maybe they’re also a little tired. And so the enthusiasm is just not there.

So I guess I should say, when you look at those two numbers combined of much more favorable and somewhat more favorable, it dropped from 67%, I believe, 67% to 65%, which is still a pretty significant swing given the kind of stability that we’ve had for a while. So I do think parents are tired as Paul was saying, but I feel like it’s worth kind of noting that a clear majority of people are still favorable to the idea, perhaps particularly right now, especially as there’s also pessimism about returning to school safely.

Mike McShane: Sure. Well, I want to move on to, maybe we’re going to try and let’s move this thing in a little more positive direction where we’ve been doing some doom and gloom here. We’re going to try and turn this sucker around. One of the interesting questions that we asked was for asking parents, how do you feel your child is progressing during this school year? Now, obviously this is a very difficult school year for all parties involved, regardless of sort of the learning modality that your school has chosen.

But we ask these questions across three dimensions. We ask them about academic learning. We ask about emotional development and we ask about social development. And one of the really interesting things that we found this month was just how far private schools pulled away from the pack with the rest of the schools. So we separate this out between charter school families, homeschooled families, private school families, and district school families, just looking at the academic learning numbers, right?

So on average across everyone, about 29% of parents say that their children are progressing very well on academic learning measures, but for private school parents, it’s 47%. And this is mirrored, in emotional development, the total average is 25% while for private schools, it’s 20 points higher at 45%. And for social development, it’s 27% for all parents and 45% for private school parents. So this seems to me to be a pretty positive private school story. Paul, did you see the same things there? Do we have any idea of what we think is happening there?

Paul DiPerna: Yeah. This struck me too. The sector differences really seem to present themselves in November where we saw the percentage of private school parents responding very well to the academic learning, emotional and social development. I mean, it held steady or even increased a couple of percentage points, but then we saw, just slides going down, especially for district school parents, from October to November, somewhat for charter school.

But you do see on this graph in our report that, there are these differences, private school parents do seem much more optimistic about how their children are doing at least as a break before Thanksgiving. We’re generally saying almost half saying they’re doing very well in terms of their progress, the school year on academics and emotional and social kind of indicators.

John Kristof: Yeah. I might interrupt the positivity train for just a moment. I feel like it is worth noting that although a pretty decent number of people did respond that they feel like their children are progressing well academically, emotionally and socially compared to last month, there has been a pretty drastic drop in that kind of confidence across all sectors except for private schooling. So private schooling has maintained just about the same of the mid to high 40% saying that their children are progressing very well in all three ways.

But with district schools and homeschooling and charter schooling have all seen pretty significant drops in confidence. So I have thought about this for awhile. I don’t know that I have a really solid answer as to why that might be or what private schools may be doing that all three other institutions might not be, but just private schooling performing so much better than the other ones I feel like is just a really interesting result of that.

Mike McShane: There hasn’t really been enough bad lately. So I’m really glad you were able to inject that into the conversation that we’re having right now. No, I mean, I think that’s actually a really interesting point of it could be that they’re just holding steady while other people are declining. And that’s a really interesting point. And I hadn’t looked back at those numbers on that. Yeah, Paul?

Paul DiPerna: Oh, no. I was just going to say, Mike, I think you would be able to speak to this and this maybe even a question back at you, but I guess since you talked to private school leaders and private school entrepreneurs, my sense and it’s anecdotal and just based on what I can read and whatnot, but it seems like private schools haven’t been changing their decisions to go remote the way district and perhaps even charter schools, but certainly district schools have been going back to remote.

And so I wonder if November in particular is capturing this transition that’s happening in the public sector, at least among district schools. It’s not maybe happening at least, maybe the acceleration, where private schools they’re at least trying to get through this first semester as much in person as possible and there’s kind of standing pat.

Mike McShane: No, I think that’s great [inaudible 00:21:51]. Listening to John and thankfully you taking some time to talk so that I can think while that’s happening, I think that, that would be sort of where I would go. It seems to me, and again, you’re right, sort of anecdotally, I don’t have systematic evidence of this, but the private schools have kind of stayed the course. They haven’t been changing a whole lot. They’ve just been kind of doing what they’ve been doing.

In the cases that I’ve seen of schools closing, it’s been sort of episodic and it’s been sort of short in duration. It’s not like someone tests positive, so we shut the school down for a week or two, but then we open back up, there’s not some plan to completely shut schools down. They, by and large been staying open and following whatever procedures that they have and just continuing that, whereas traditional public school districts and a lot of public charter schools have been kind of doing this dance where some are looking at the metrics that are in the broader populations.

Some of them are looking what’s going on in the school in particular. And I think that has caused some of this yo-yoing. So it wouldn’t surprise me that, private schools are staying steady while other people are losing confidence. But another thing that’s kind of interesting, I think we’ve been doing some of the best research in America on the pandemic pod phenomenon. It’s a nice little alliteration there, starting all of those things with Ps, but the pandemic pod phenomenon.

And one of the things that we saw again this month was a pretty steep decline in the percentage of people identifying as participating in a pandemic pod, I believe. So we asked the question as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, are you currently participating in a quote unquote pod with other families? And we’ll talk in a second that we kind of break that down just to make sure that when we use the term pandemic pod, that we’re actually talking about people kind of quasi homeschooling with one another, but at least in answering that question, I think only 15% of respondents said that they were participating in a pod now.

I think that’s down something like 18 points from October and 66% of respondents said we are not participating in a pod. And as one might imagine, that’s up about 15 points from October. So are pods dead, are pods not a thing anymore? Was that just a temporary thing that’s happening? Are we not going to continue to hear about the pod people or whatever term that we’ve tried to figure out awkwardly to describe the people that are doing this thing? John, what do you think, is this the death knell of pandemic pods?

John Kristof: That’s such a good question. Especially considering that the number of people who say that they’re interested in or looking for pods, hasn’t changed. 19%, both this month and last month. So apparently people are still interested-

Mike McShane: You think they would have found one by now.

John Kristof: You think they would have found one by now, but apparently once you get into one, you tire out of it and you drop out. I’m not quite sure. It is interesting to see because so many of our other numbers regarding the pods have maintained consistency a fair bit, including the number of people who see it as a supplement to regular schooling. And so maybe it may be to me again, my narrative for a lot of these answers are maybe parents are tired because parents play a pretty heavy role in pods a lot of the time.

So if parents are just tired, then something supplemental that involves them being heavily involved might be the first part of their kids’ education to go. You will take out the supplemental additional stuff as well, where initially you have the energy and you have the creativity and you have the ability to find these programs, find these co-ops, find these pods to participate in and then it’s kind of, at some point you want to just make sure that their essentials are getting taken care of a fair bit.

And I feel like it’s worth noting too, I don’t know if this is jumping the gun a little bit, but I thought it was interesting that there was a very strong overlap between when you look at the demographics and income levels and such people who are interested in pods and people who are interested in tutoring for their kids, there’s a very strong overlap between kind of resonating with people who see pods as supplemental and something additional to boost their kids’ academic experience above and beyond what they might get standard.

But, we didn’t ask about whether tutoring has gone up or down, but I think just kind of reinforcing this idea of, hey, people see this as additional and maybe people are just tired and not able to do that as much as they used to, but people who haven’t done it yet think that they do have that energy. And so we’ll see what that looks like in the future.

Mike McShane: And so Paul, before getting your thoughts, another interesting sort of stat as we started doing recently, trying to hone in on what exactly it means when someone says that they’re participating in a pod. So the breakdown of the people who said they’re participating in a pod, 75% of them said that that is in addition to and supplementing regular schooling. So by and large, we imagine that those are people who are, they’re doing virtual learning from their traditional public school, but they’re just doing it all in one family’s home with a few other people.

Only 25% said that it is in fact a substitute. Now, interestingly, on the flip side of that, when we look at the people who are looking to form a pod, only 62% said that they wanted in addition, 38%, which I believe is up from last month, these are people who are looking for a substitute. So they’re looking basically to start a little micro school kind of hybrid homeschool thing that’s happening there. And so looking at both what John was just talking about, about the demographics, looking at the broader trends, looking at what’s going on in there, what is your kind of takeaway on all the stuff that we’re doing on pandemic pods?

Paul DiPerna: So I think that parents are tired and maybe that pods are one of the first things to kind of go that John had mentioned. I think that’s one potential scenario. Another one I wonder is if, and this is definitely anecdotal and just what… Reading and even chatting with other parents in our school district either participated in pods or they’re switching. And there have been switches because of quarantining.

And so the quarantining and that sort of effect and contact tracing has had an effect on pods and their stability. And so it could be, so that if they’re changing of hands or from parents, maybe one set of parents took on pods one month and then another set of parents took on most of those kids, but maybe some new ones the next month, they might be the respondent’s parents who are answering this question might respond a different way, or maybe they’re in that transition that they are looking for a pod.

And it also, Mike you pointed out on the percentages who are supplementing or actually trying to replace or substitute regular schooling, so those numbers have switched. So in October, it was 85% who said they were supplementing compared to this month where we saw it go down to 75%. And so now that we have a larger percentage of podders who are actually replacing or substituting their regular schooling, I’m wondering if that’s having some sort of impact or interaction here.

And that might explain why the overall numbers, the 15%. And, the tutoring, as John had mentioned, we saw the dip in tutoring from October to November as well by I think it was nine percentage points. And so of those who said that they were at least very likely or somewhat likely to tutor this year. And so the blaring pods and the tutoring responses seem to be correlating some way there as well.

Mike McShane: So look, we can talk about this stuff all day. I obviously recommend everybody to check, to head to edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com. I hope I’m doing that correctly from memory, but that’s where we have all of our most recent results. If you go on the website, you go in the upper right-hand corner, there’s a tab called resource downloads. The full report that we put out every month, it’s I don’t know, 80 or 90 slides.

You also get, we publish the cross tabs. So for those of you that maybe are listening to this and say, well, I want to know what if these are the men or women or people from different racial ethnic groups or people from different income [inaudible 00:29:53], are they answering these questions differently? We publish all of that stuff. Researchers dig into these things. It’s all sort of open and out there for you.

We also publish the full questionnaire. So if you have any questions about how questions are worded or want to know any of those things, sort of completely transparent on all of those things. But the last question I have for you, two gentlemen, is I think one of the interesting trends that we’ve also seen, just looking at the kind of education system in general, is that we ask a question, again, a pretty common question in education surveys about school funding, right? So we asked the question, do you believe that public school funding in your state is too high or too low?

I think we maybe even add in there, sort of the about right option and then kind of fun thing that we do for folks is that we ask that question and then we’ll also give the information. We’ll actually say how much on average did they spend in their state and we’ll see if there are differences between the two. And I think as we’ve said on this podcast and people that are familiar with education polling will know there’s a big gap between those two.

People generally speaking, will say too low until they find out how much it is, and then you’ll lose 10 or 20 points of support for those things. Now, this is something that we’ve consistently found. So when we asked this question back in January 64% of Americans just unprompted said that it was too low, but when we actually gave them the spending figure for their state, it dropped down to just 40%. So right, a 24% drop. But one of the things that I found interesting is that throughout the course of this year, so again, we’ve been asking this question since January, throughout the course of this year, just the, without information number has just consistently ticked down every month.

I guess there was a little uptick in kind of August and September, but we started in January 64% of people said it was too low. When we asked this question in November only 51%. So we saw throughout the course of this year a 13 percentage point drop. Now, interestingly, we saw a corresponding drop, even when folks get information. So in January, it started at 40%. We actually saw this really interesting spike in April, which maybe shouldn’t surprise us when there’s a lot of conversation about the cares act and all that sort of stuff, but then a pretty precipitous decline from that and sort of holding steady.

So it started the year at 40%. It ended the year and only 32%. So I’m kind of actually fascinated with this because I think there’s been a lot of conversation about school funding. There’s been a lot of conversation about, does schools have the money that they need for PPE or to do distance learning well, or any of those things, but Americans don’t really seem to think that schools need more money, even with all this discussion.

And again, whether we just ask them generally about it, or whether we give them the actual number, I mean, those numbers just have trended downward all year. So Paul, and again, you’ve been looking at these numbers when we do the schooling in America survey and all of those things, what do you see from those trend lines? Did any of that stuff surprise you? What do you make of it?

Paul DiPerna: So, I mean, this is, it’s interesting where we tend to see, and this is a question, as you’ve mentioned, that we’ve been asking for a really long time in our national polling in, and our state polling too, and that gap between the percentages saying too low, those with information or without has generally been between 15 to 25 percentage points, whether national or some of these state level polls that we do and the chart that we have in the report. I mean, that gap is pretty persistent.

So it’s been roughly around 20 percentage points that gap and staying there, but it is interesting that even without the information that half sample, not having the statistic, over half say that it’s about right, or even too high, which is a pretty small percentage, but that’s almost half who are saying it’s about 50/50 right now.

And this has implications, I think, with all the talk around this next stimulus and, to what extent K-12 education will be part of this next stimulus package. And then what are maybe the conditions that will be tied to additional funding, heading into next year and certainly states at the state level, this is going to dominate, I would imagine, those budget discussions as legislative sessions kick into full swing by the end of January.

And so this will be really important. See, I had a conversation even with legislators and other folks last week, where it was part of our conversation just to say the information really matters and it does affect people’s views on school funding. And just that educational component really means a lot. So it’ll be interesting to see the next few months, if we see any trends one way or the other as these budget discussions really start.

John Kristof: I’ll be interested to see that too, to see come the spring, come late winter when legislatures are in session and maybe more local politics starts taking over local news cycles, whether this will change because I’ll make a comment starting by a personal anecdote. So I spent a lot of time at the Indiana state capitol last year, and we had this big Red For Ed event, as I believe, many other states did in November of a lot of teachers and people supporting teachers coming to the state capitol.

And I don’t know if protesting is the right word, but supporting increases in teacher pay and some other policy changes, but one of the big ones was increases in teacher pay for example, an education finance thing, there’s a lot of momentum toward increasing education financing here in Indiana. It was a non-budget year. And so it was pretty easy to kind of shove that off and say, we’ll address this in a budget year.

Well, now we’re in a budget year where they’re about to start legislative session during a budget year where they have more flexibility to change school funding, if you will. But now there’s a lot of other things on everyone’s plate. There’s a lot of other things on people’s mind, social distancing requirements prevent something massive like Red For Ed from happening. So when I see this number is maybe there’s just a lot of momentum from things like, because I know it just, wasn’t just Indiana, from things like Red For Ed that carried over to January of 2020, at the beginning of legislative session.

And as time passed, the fervor died a little bit, not entirely, people still have their opinions, but the pretty noticeable decline. And we’re not seeing it rise again because the average person has a hundred things that they’re thinking about above this kind of local politics matter. So like Paul said, it’ll be interesting to see whether this changes as the discussions pick up as the legislature’s in session, but information matters. And I feel like we’re just drowning in it, in a lot of things that aren’t education finance, the average person is anyway. So that’s what I see.

Mike McShane: Well, gents, it’s been great talking to you. Again, for those of you listening head to edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com to get all of the relevant information. And again, you can find all of the resources that we made available. As sample sizes grow, we’re actually creating state specific pages where if you’re interested in what these opinions are looking at your individual state, now we’ve administered this enough times that we can start to get an idea of what folks in individual states are looking like.

So all of that stuff is on the website. If you all have interest in other questions, please feel free to reach out to us. Given the kind of episodic nature of the survey that we do, we ask some questions in every survey and we ask other ones based on what’s going on in the world. Obviously that’s been a lot of coronavirus related stuff, but if there are other questions that are out there, we’re always brainstorming, spit balling, trying to figure out what else to put on there.

But until then, looking forward to chatting with you all next month, we’ll see if some of these trends hold, we’ll see if these trends change, but until then everyone take care, stay safe and look forward to talking to you again on another edition of EdChoice Chats.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This transcript was updated on Dec. 22, 2020, to reflect an error in data processing on the question about how much parents are willing to spend per month on learning pods for their children. With this correction, the actual estimate is about three times larger than what was originally reported—$457 versus $138. 

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