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NEA study finds digital divide narrowing in U.S. public schools

Parents overwhelmingly view Internet as help, use email as main communication tool with teacher


WASHINGTON - November 16, 2009 -

Poll results released today show the digital gap is increasingly becoming a thing of the past in America’s public schools. The National Education Association and Harris Interactive have released the results of an Omnibus poll showing parents have embraced the benefits of Internet at school and even use the technology to communicate with their children’s teachers.

According to the poll, which was released to coincide with the kickoff of the 88th annual American Education Week, nine out of 10 parents of 10- to 17-year-old students feel the Internet has expanded their child’s learning opportunities, and two-thirds (67%) of parents of school-age children communicate with teachers via email during the school year.

“The classroom of generations ago—when the country only needed a fraction of students to prepare for college—is a thing of the past,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The 21st century is an age of knowledge and lifelong learning, with every aspect of our life affected by technology and rapid change. The NEA/Harris Interactive poll’s findings provide good news that the digital divide is increasingly being bridged in America’s public schools.”

American Education Week—sponsored by NEA and celebrated by millions from the school house to the steps of the U.S. Capitol—spotlights the importance of providing every student in America with a quality public education from kindergarten through college, and the need for everyone to do his or her part in making public schools great.

The research also indicates that parental involvement, however, seems to be the key factor for student success.  The study shows that parents of children who get better grades (mostly A’s and B’s) are more likely than parents of kids who get lower grades to feel they know exactly what their kids are doing on the computer (87% vs. 77%) and at school (86% vs. 75%).

Some of the key findings from the NEA/Harris Interactive Poll include:

  • Eighty-seven percent (87%) of parents believe their child’s school is making good use of technological advances.
  • About half (48%) of parents report that they would like to be more involved with their children’s teachers and their children’s school (53%).
  • Kids 8 to 18, however, are less interested in their parents being more involved with their school (29%) or their teachers (21%)

NEA is encouraging everyone to get involved by participating in a local event, volunteering in afterschool programs, attending a school activity, or organizing events.  For more information about American Education Week and to view the entire NEA/Harris Interactive Omnibus survey, visit www.nea.org/aew.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7823, smaiers@nea.org