One major takeaway of the survey was that it found Californians generally approve of the way Gov. Gavin Newsom has handled the state's public education system.
Roughly 60% of all adults surveyed approved of Gov. Newsom's response to school reopenings.
The group surveyed was made up of likely voters. However, this number was down quite a bit from last year — in 2020, 73% of all adults and 74% of public school parents gave the governor their approval.
This difference is examined in a press release on the findings from the PPIC. According to the release, "the level of discontent with the governor’s handling of schools and the economy today are in the range of overall disapproval of the governor (42% disapprove, 53% approve) and support for the recall (40% remove him, 56% keep him) in the March PPIC Survey."
The survey also found that the majority of Californians believe that children are falling behind in school amid the pandemic. Eight out of ten people said K-12 students are falling behind academically. The PPIC found that this was true across demographics.
Here is a breakdown of that data by demographic:
- All adults: 64% said children are falling behind a lot and 22% said children are falling behind a little.
- Public school parents: 60% said children are falling behind a lot and 23% said children are falling behind a little.
- African Americans: 55% said children are falling behind a lot and 30% said children are falling behind a little.
- Asian Americans: 64% said children are falling behind a lot and 21% said children are falling behind a little.
- Latinos: 62% said children are falling behind a lot and 23% said children are falling behind a little.
- Whites: 66% said children are falling behind a lot and 22% said children are falling behind a little.
During a presentation on some of the findings, both Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, and Rachel Lawler, survey analyst for PPIC, were surprised by how parents responded to a question about schools closing with the coronavirus pandemic. Across all California regions, the majority of people said they approved of how their local school districts handled closures.
Here is a breakdown of that data based on region:
- All adults: 65% approved
- Public school parents: 72% approved
- Central Valley: 60% approved
- Inland Empire: 68% approved
- Los Angeles: 74% approved
- Orange/San Diego: 54% approved
- San Francisco Bay Area: 66% approved
When it came to the differences between Los Angeles and Orange/San Diego regional responses, especially significant considering the areas are geographically next to each other, Lawler pointed to how individual districts may be handling closures. For example, she explained, the Santa Ana school district in Orange County decided to continue with remote learning this spring, while many Los Angeles schools did reopen in-person.
Similarly surprising, a majority of parents were somewhat or very satisfied with distance learning, especially when considering all of the hardships and criticisms parents have had about virtual learning. Of those Californians surveyed, 48% of parents were somewhat satisfied and 15% were very satisfied with distance learning’s ability to provide a productive learning environment in their home, 42% were somewhat satisfied and 19% were very satisfied with distance learning instruction/activities provided by their youngest child’s school.
This was especially interesting when looking at the survey responses to what people thought schools in California should be doing to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. At least 28% of all adults thought schools should be completely reopened and 53% of adults said schools should be partially reopened, seemingly contradicting their apparent satisfaction with distance learning.
The issue was also clearly partisan with 56% of Republicans saying schools should be completely reopened in contrast to just 13% of Democrats and 32% of Independents saying schools should be completely reopened.
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