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LCEF Poll Shows Growing Perception of Racial Disparities in Education

By Alina O'Donnell
 | May 04, 2017

LCEF Poll2017 is a pivotal year for education policy in the United States. Right now, state leaders are creating plans and policies to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which serves to ensure excellence and equity in all public schools.

Historically, education policy has not reflected the diverse needs and desires of all communities. As we reshape the education system, is critically important that families of color—the new majority of public school parents—are represented in conversations about education reform.

To amplify their voices, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, by way of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, conducted its second annual New Education Majority Poll: a national survey that "captures the beliefs of Black and Latino parents and families and reveals the actual perspectives, aspirations, and concerns that they have about their children’s education and the education system itself." 

The poll revealed that perceptions of racial disparities among black and Latino parents are more pronounced than last year. Key findings include the following:

  • The overwhelming majority of survey participants believe schools with mostly white students receive more funding than schools with mostly black students and schools with mostly Latino students.
  • Both groups cited lack of funding as the main reason for racial disparities in education, followed by racial bias, lower teacher quality, lack of opportunity, lack of parental involvement, poor school facilities, and language problems.
  • Black and Latino parents and family members whose children attend schools with mostly white students are more likely to rate their child’s school as “excellent.”
  • Parents and family members of color whose child’s teachers are mostly white are more likely to agree with the statement “Schools in the U.S. are not really trying to educate black/Latino students” than those with mostly black or mostly Latino teachers.
  • Both groups cite qualified teachers as the most important indicator of classroom success, followed by a strong curriculum and a safe environment.
  • Black and Latino parents would like their children to be more challenged in school and want all students to be held to the same standards. 
  • Both groups believe that report cards, followed by the student-teacher ratio, are the two most important pieces of information to determine school quality.
  • Parents of color have high expectations for their children, and want their children’s teachers to mirror these expectations.
  • Both groups believe that school funding is best spent on resources (specifically books and computers); advanced classes; increased teacher pay; and extracurricular activities, vocational classes, and after school programs.

The report concludes with a list of proposed policy changes to address and remedy the concerns expressed by poll participants. Recommendations include integrating implicit bias and cultural responsiveness training into teacher preparation and professional development; monitoring resource distribution (including strong teachers and rigorous courses); preparing, hiring, supporting, and retaining high-quality black and Latino teachers; and designing stronger accountability systems that focus on high academic achievement.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for laws and policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of every person in the United States. In so doing, we also seek to promote an appreciation for the rich diversity of the country, and attitudes that are accepting of our differences and similarities. We were founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (then called the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights), the nation’s premier civil and human rights coalition of more than 200 national organizations.

Alina O'Donnell is the editor of Literacy Daily.

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