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Minority Parents See Serious Problems in Their Schools

By Philip Elliott and Jennifer Agiesta

Minority and low-income parents are more likely to see serious problems in their schools – from low expectations to bullying to out-of-date technology and textbooks – than those who are affluent or white, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll.

Overall impressions of the nation’s schools and teachers are similarly positive among all groups of parents, but deep demographic differences emerge in the details of how parents see teachers, schools and even their own roles in their children’s education.

The divisions fall along the familiar fault lines of income, education and race that drive so much of American life. In many cases, it’s as though parents are looking at two very different sets of schools in this country.

Most parents say the school their child attends is high-quality and rate their children’s teachers positively. White parents are only slightly more likely than others to give their child’s school high marks, and parents of all races give their local schools similar ratings for preparing students for college, the workforce, citizenship and life as an adult.

A majority of parents say their children are receiving a better education than the one they received, but blacks and Hispanics feel more strongly than whites that this is the case. The poll also shows minorities feel they have a greater influence over their children’s education.

And the ways parents assess school quality and the problems they see as most deeply affecting their child’s school vary greatly by parents’ race, education and income level.

Digging into these numbers reveals another wide gap based on race. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic parents and 50 percent of black parents think they have a great deal or a lot of influence over their child’s education. Only 34 percent of white parents share this view.

When asking about school funding, artistic programs and technology, racial identities divided perceptions.

Sixty-one percent of black parents saw inequality in school funding as a problem, compared with 32 percent of white parents.
Thirty-six percent of black parents saw insufficient opportunities for musical or artistic pursuits, but just 21 percent of white parents did. And 50 percent of Hispanic parents said a lack of computers and technology was a problem, while 34 percent of black parents and just 16 percent of white parents said the same.

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