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Poll shows GOP's outrage over school lessons isn't actually experienced by most parents

Conservatives claim a groundswell of Americans oppose their kids' school curriculum. A new poll suggests otherwise.


A lot of media coverage about the conservative assault on teachers and educational institutions over school lesson plans seems to give the discussion an unearned air of symmetry.

Some news reports suggest there are just as many people attacking classroom discussions about racism, gender equality and sexual orientation as there are defending what's currently being taught in schools.

A new poll from NPR and Ipsos suggests that's not the case.

The study, published Friday, indicates most parents in the U.S. are satisfied with their kids' schools and don't believe the curriculum is inappropriate. 

“By wide margins — and regardless of their political affiliation — parents express satisfaction with their children’s schools and what is being taught in them,” NPR reported Friday.

The poll found 76 percent of parents believe their child’s school has done a good job of keeping parents informed about the curriculum, including about subjects that might be considered controversial. 

Photo Illustrations: People holding their thumbs up in front of a classroom background
MSNBC / Getty Images

That runs contrary to the incessant news segments aired by conservative outlets, and parroted by right-wing politicians, suggesting there’s a national groundswell of anger over school lesson plans. In fact, the NPR/Ipsos poll found a relatively small percentage of parents believed they had too little say in their children's school curriculum. Among Republicans, that number was 32 percent, compared with 23 percent of independents and 18 percent of Democrats.

But more important, the poll did show that some parents believe schools can improve the services they provide, especially those that could help remedy some of the problems exacerbated by the pandemic. For example, 73 percent of parents said their child would benefit from mental health counseling, up from 68 percent in February 2021. That seems to align with reports that young people have been at heightened risk for mental health issues brought on by the pandemic. About 67 percent of parents whose children receive individualized education plans said their child hasn’t received adequate services to help recoup the educational losses they've incurred during the pandemic. 

Despite what Fox News or any number of right-wing outlets say, many American parents are apparently OK with what their child learns at school. Large numbers of them do want to see changes — but not the GOP-pushed lesson plans. They want schools to provide their kids with more services to help them thrive mentally, emotionally and educationally.