Polling shows parents support teachers', schools' handling of COVID

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click to enlarge More than 3 in 4 parents in a nationwide survey said they are satisfied with how their schools handled the pandemic. - Shutterstock
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More than 3 in 4 parents in a nationwide survey said they are satisfied with how their schools handled the pandemic.
Recent polling shows strong support for educators and schools in Michigan and across the country throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

More than 3 in 4 parents in a nationwide survey said they are satisfied with how their schools handled the pandemic, and endorsed the quality and performance of their teachers.

Craig Hofman, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Grayling Middle School, said schools are community centers, and have stepped up to make sure students and their families have meals and Wi-Fi hot spots, for instance.

"The teachers, the school, school district, para pros, bus drivers, everybody kind of jumped in, and we care about the kids, we care about the families," Hofman explained. "And I think that's helped a lot with the perspective of teachers. It's not just seeing on TV stuff like union strikes and things like that, which is all they kind of put on."

In the poll, a big concern among parents is the nationwide teacher shortage, with 65% saying they were "fairly or very concerned" about it.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law in December, which allows paraprofessionals and other school staff to serve as substitute teachers during the current school year, although opponents noted they have their own essential duties, and more needs to be done to solve the shortage.

Hofman added one of the biggest challenges is broadband access. When schools shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, and now when students are out for extended periods quarantining, he argued high-speed internet is critical for them to stay engaged remotely.

"Being in a more rural area, a lot of students and teachers don't have great Wi-Fi access," Hofman stressed. "You're living out of town, living out of the city or whatever. It's just making sure that everybody has internet access to access, not just education, but other important things that need to be done."

The poll found 75% of parents expressed concerns about shortages of counselors and nurses, and more than 70% worry about students falling behind academically or socially. Nearly 70% of parents said they're concerned about inadequate funding for schools and 65% worry about low teacher pay.

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