Press Release

Statewide Poll of Washington Parents Shows Significant Gaps in Access to Resources and Elevated Stress Levels for Families by Race and Income

WASHINGTON (May 20, 2020) – While Washington was amongst the first states dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak and amongst the first to issue stay-at-home orders, a new poll released today by The Education Trust found that nearly 9 in 10 (86%) parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically due to coronavirus-related school closures, and 3 out of 4 (76%) public school parents report higher levels of stress than usual. Feelings of stress are particularly common among parents of children with disabilities (with 54% feeling much higher levels of stress) and families earning less than $50K annually (47% feeling much higher levels of stress).

The statewide poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, finds that while Washington parents give positive ratings to schools for their handling of the coronavirus and the transition to remote learning overall (81%), nearly all (96%) parents want regular contact with or access to their child’s teacher. Yet a majority (about 60%) of White parents, parents who primarily speak English at home, and parents of students who do not have a disability report that their school is providing parents with regular contact or access to their child’s teacher, while only half (about 50%) of Black parents, Latino parents, and parents who primarily speak another language at home, and parents of students with disabilities are getting the same support.

“Our survey reveals that in Washington, this health crisis continues to exacerbate longstanding education equity challenges, including access to technology, academic support, and resources for students of color and students from lower-income communities,” said Ary Amerikaner, vice president for P-12 policy, practice, and research for The Education Trust. “Our polling data shows that in Washington, some children are receiving resources while others are not. State and district leaders must ensure that educators and school leaders have the resources they need now to educate students during this pandemic and that they step up planning to accelerate student learning when children once again enter the school building.”

Key Poll Findings:

Academic Support

  • More than half of parents (58%) reported being very concerned about ensuring their child doesn’t fall behind academically, including more than two-thirds of parents who are essential workers (68%) or from low-income backgrounds (67%).
  • Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) parents reported receiving little to no information about academic or other resources from their school or district, including 19% of Black and Latino parents

Digital Divide and Distance Learning

  • About half (53%) of parents reported challenges with distance learning. The most common concern — reported by half of parents with concerns — was that assignments were confusing.
  • Roughly 1 in 5 parents who reported having challenges with distance learning reported that they didn’t have reliable high-speed internet access or enough devices at home.
  • Two-thirds of parents (67%) say providing free internet access to families while schools are closed would be very helpful for families like theirs, yet only 22% of parents report that their school district has provided internet access.

Well-being

  • More than 3 in 4 (76%) public school parents report higher levels of stress than usual, including one-third (34%) who say their level of stress is much higher than usual. Families earning less than $50K annually are experiencing more acute levels of stress — nearly half (47%) of those families report stress levels that are much higher.

“These findings are reminiscent of what we hear in our region,” Carlina Brown-Banks, senior director of Community Engagement for the Community Center for Education Results. “There is unquestionably a need for more access to resources for parents and families, but what seems to be rising to the top is a sincere desire to be in a relationship with their child’s teacher. Robust family engagement strategies strengthen the agency of both parent and educator to be partners in supporting students to be their best selves.”

Policymakers will need to shift from crisis management to long-term solutions to ensure education equity is at the forefront of every school, district, and state-level decision. In total, 881 parents of children in Washington public schools were polled online (desktop and mobile) from April 13 to April 24. These poll results follow parent polls released in CA and NY amidst the COVID-19 pandemic impacting school closures all across the state and the country.

###

As 2020 Comes to a CloseSupport Educational Justice