Fox News Poll: High concern over what schools are teaching

Majorities say it’s a major problem that school boards, parents are pushing political agendas

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Voters are worried about the classroom.

The latest Fox News national survey finds 73% of registered voters are "extremely" or "very" concerned about what public schools are teaching children.

The only issues more concerning to voters are inflation/higher prices (87%), political divisions within the country, and health care (76% each).

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Republicans (81%) and parents (80%) are among those most concerned about what is being taught.  For Republicans, only inflation (89%) and migrants at the border (82%) rank higher, while the top worry among parents is also inflation (88%), they put health care in the second spot (81%).

For Democrats, concern over school curriculum comes in eighth in a list of 12 issues, while independents have it tied as their third concern.

"The debate about the nature of the curriculum in the public schools has become a hot button issue for Republicans," says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. "There is strong sentiment on the right that administrators are imposing a liberal agenda against the wishes of parents."

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When asked about certain actions in schools, more voters say it’s a "major problem" that school administrators are pushing political agendas (63%) and there are threats against school officials (57%) than point to parents aggressively pushing political agendas at school boards (54%) and not getting enough say in their kids’ studies (47%).

About half say too much focus on race (49%) is a major problem with schools, while somewhat fewer say the same about overly accommodating transgender policies (44%).

Parents’ views on the major issues with schools are almost identical to the overall results.

The top major problem among Democrats is threats against school officials (67%), followed by parents (61%) and schools (51%) pushing political agendas.  Too much focus on race (32%), parents not having a say (31%), and transgender policies (28%) are further down the list.

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Among Republicans, the major problem is school boards pushing a political agenda (72%).  The next tier is too much focus on race (64%), parents not having a say and transgender policies (62% each), followed by threats against officials (51%), and parents pushing political views (50%).

"As national politics boil over into school board meetings, Democrats and Republicans agree that school boards and parents pushing political agendas are a major problem," says Anderson. "But that’s where the agreement ends, with Republicans twice as likely as Democrats to think there is too much focus on race in schools and that parents don’t have enough say."

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This comes in the wake of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asking the U.S. Justice Department and President Biden to investigate threats of violence from parents who are upset about school curriculum, saying these threats may amount to domestic terrorism. The September 30 letter stated, "America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat. The [NSBA] respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation."

Fifty-three percent think school boards truly need extra protection from real threats, while 40% believe school boards are trying to stop parents from opposing their policies by asking the federal government for help.

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Democrats (77%) are much more likely than Republicans (36%) and independents (43%) to believe school boards need protection.

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More parents believe school boards need security (63%) than say the boards are trying to stop parents from going against them (34%).

Conducted October 16-19, 2021 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,003 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.