Maryland Families, Educators Deeply Concerned about Distance Learning and School Funding

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Patti Mullins
(443) 433-3684

Inequity, Safety Concerns Exacerbated by Coronavirus Pandemic

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, recent polls of Maryland voters[1] and educators[2] finds that distance learning poses many challenges for teachers and families and that there is widespread recognition and support for increased school funding to address old and new inequities.

By a 2-to-1 margin, Marylanders support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future despite its recent veto by Governor Hogan. The General Assembly can take up an override of the veto when the legislature next convenes.

When it comes to distance learning, educators are primarily concerned about student engagement, while parents are concerned about separation from the school community and loss of a well-rounded school experience. Increased safety measures—like requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing through reduced class size—are widely supported and seen as essential to reopening schools.

School funding poll findings include:

  • 91% of voters believe that it is important to protect public school funding and educator jobs and salaries during the pandemic
  • 66% of voters support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future school funding plan after hearing a message from both supporters and opponents
  • 60% of voters say the state is spending too little on education (with only 7% saying we spend too much)
  • 70% of voters say that teachers are not paid enough

Distance learning poll findings include:

  • More than 80% of educators are seriously concerned about student motivation, participation, internet access, and mental health.
  • More than 70% of parents report serious concerns about their students missing their peers, their teachers, and their extracurricular activities.
  • Majorities of voters and educators strongly support reduced class sizes, PPE for educators and students, and additional mental health staff as pre-requisites to reopening schools.

“The pandemic has exacerbated inequity and trauma that existed widely before the pandemic shuttered schools,” said Baltimore County elementary school teacher and MSEA President Cheryl Bost. “These polls clearly show that educators and the public know that we need to protect school funding and the health of our educators and students. Our kids have waited too long for equity in education, and now more than ever we must act to give all of our students the opportunities and support that they deserve.”

During the 2020 session, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to create strong schools in every neighborhood by expanding career and technical education, hiring more educators and increasing their pay, providing additional support to struggling learners, and to address the systemic inequities that have especially impacted students of color and students in poverty for decades. The Blueprint, vetoed by Gov. Hogan on May 7, is a 10-year plan to make Maryland’s education system world-class, resolve historic inequities, produce graduates ready to fill the jobs that will bring back the economy, and end a decade of underfunding schools by billions of dollars.

For the full poll memo, click here. The poll of 650 registered voters and 800 Maryland educators and Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) members was conducted by GBAO Strategies on behalf of MSEA between May 14 and 25.

 

[1] GBAO conducted a survey of 650 registered voters statewide. Results include an oversample of parents for a total of 217 parents of kids under 18. This survey, on behalf of MSEA, was conducted May 14–19, 2020 and reached respondents on both landlines and cell phones. Results were weighted to a sample size of 500 to reflect the regional and demographic characteristics of the state and carry a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval.

[2] GBAO conducted a survey of 800 MSEA members via landline and cell phones from May 14–18, 2020 and 2,526 MSEA members via Qualtrics from May 19–25, 2020. The survey results carry a margin of error +/- 3.7 and +/- 2.0 percentage points, respectively, at the 95 percent confidence interval.

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