In our annual PPIC Statewide Survey on Californians and education, 40% of adults say that the quality of K–12 public education in the state is a big problem. Notably, the parents of public school children are more likely than others to have favorable opinions about public education in California: just 27% say quality is a big problem. Adults without children, those with children in private schools, and those with children too young to attend school are the ones who tend to hold a more negative view of the state’s public education system. This pattern is consistent with our findings in previous surveys.
Parents who don’t have children in public schools are twice as likely as those who do to say the quality of K–12 public education is a big problem. They are also twice as likely to give their neighborhood public schools a grade of D or F. (Adults without children age 18 or younger fall in between the two parent groups on these questions.)
In addition, when asked how their elected officials are handling K–12 education, public school parents are much more likely than others to approve of Governor Brown and the California Legislature in this area.
Regardless of whether they have children in public schools, many parents agree that school funding is inadequate. Two-thirds of both parent groups say that the level of funding for their local public schools is inadequate, while 58% of other adults say the same.
Most adults support K–12 funding proposals, and support among public school parents is particularly strong. At least two-thirds of adults say they would vote for either a local or state bond measure to pay for school construction projects, with over 80% of public school parents supporting these measures. Asked how they would vote on a local parcel tax for schools, 70% of public school parents would vote yes—exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to pass such a tax. Among other adults, about 60% would vote yes.
Certainly, it’s not surprising that parents who decided to send their children to private schools might have different opinions about educational quality compared to those with children in public schools. The differences that we find, though, extend beyond a difference between public school parents and private school parents. On several measures, parents with children in public schools stand apart from all other California adults in their assessment of the state’s K-12 public education system.