California public schools serve more than 6 million children, more than half of them economically disadvantaged and nearly a quarter of them English Learners. Achievement gaps across socioeconomic and demographic groups of students persist despite significant progress on state standardized tests in recent years.
The state has taken steps to address these challenges by changing its school finance system and its curriculum. Implementation of these reforms is proceeding against a backdrop of uncertainty at the federal level. The annual PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Education examined the views of state residents generally and public school parents, in particular, of this rapidly changing environment.
The survey finds that most Californians and public school parents alike give their local public schools a grade of A or B. At the same time, majorities in each group see the current level of state funding as inadequate. Most Californians say that the wiser use of existing funds is at least part of the formula to improve school quality. In this context, majorities of residents and public school parents favor providing parents with tax-funded vouchers to send their children to any school they choose.
Asked about the impact of stepped-up federal immigration enforcement, most residents and parents express concern about the effects of these efforts on undocumented students and their families. Majorities say they favor their local district declaring itself a “sanctuary safe zone” to indicate that it will protect its undocumented students and their families.