Right-wing culture warriors and much of the media would have us believe that the great swath of parents are unhappy with schools and upset about things like LGBT issues in the classroom. But poll after poll shows that is simply not the case. Add to this list this poll from NPR/Ipsos:
Math textbooks axed for their treatment of race; a viral Twitter account directing ire at LGBTQ teachers; a state law forbidding classroom discussion of sexual identity in younger grades; a board book for babies targeted as “pornographic.” Lately it seems there’s a new controversy erupting every day over how race, gender or history are tackled in public school classrooms.
But for most parents, these concerns seem to be far from top of mind. That’s according to a new national poll by NPR and Ipsos. By wide margins – and regardless of their political affiliation – parents express satisfaction with their children’s schools and what is being taught in them.
In fact, many of the most vocal disruptors during school board meetings have been found to not even have children in the school district where they are causing trouble. As NPR noted in the article accompanying its poll results, even conservative parents aren’t invested in these culture wars and are mostly happy with their public schools and their teachers.
In fact, in our poll, about a third of parents say they “don’t know” how their child’s school addresses sexuality, gender identity, racism or patriotism. That’s far more than the percentage who express any problem – in some cases, twice as many.
Carmen Shipley, in Grand Junction, Colo., says she “picks her battles” when it comes to her daughter’s high school.
“I know there’s been some controversy … but I don’t honestly pay much attention to that, as much as some others here.”
She and her neighbors tend toward the conservative, and the local school board does as well, so she feels like everyone’s on the same page. “I have no issues with any of her teachers … I’m fairly comfortable with all of that.”
Besides, she says, her top priority isn’t the culture wars; it’s making sure her daughter stays engaged with her studies and is prepared for college.
The parents I know don’t have time to be culture warriors on non-issues that are ginned up by Fox News and right-wing think tanks. They’re too busy being parents.