In advance of the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate, the National Education Association today released new polling that highlights how out of touch the GOP candidates are with parents and voters on education priorities.
“Tomorrow night as the 2024 Republican candidates take the debate stage for the first time, we expect them to double down on their extreme agenda centered on banning books, censoring history, diverting public school resources to unaccountable and discriminatory private schools through vouchers, and taking away learning opportunities for students. In an attempt to make billionaire donors such as Betsy DeVos happy, these Republican candidates continue to ignore what parents and voters care about most when it comes to education. That is why so many of the right-wing, so-called ‘culture war’ candidates up and down the ballot continue to lose,” said National Education Association President Becky Pringle. “Across America, most of us want the same thing – strong public schools where all students, no matter their race, ZIP code, or background, have the resources and opportunities to grow into their full brilliance. In every community across the nation – rural, urban, and suburban alike – parents and educators are partnering to help students thrive."
- Lack of funding, teacher pay, and school shootings are voters’ top-of-mind concerns about education.
- When given a list, voters rank pandemic learning recovery, lack of school funding, lack of technical training, insufficient mental health support, and educator shortages as the most serious problems facing K-12 public education.
- On issues of history and curriculum specifically, voters are concerned about bans and restrictions… Culture war issues like teachers “grooming” students or pushing an LGBTQ+ agenda fall to the bottom of the list... conservative Republicans prioritize these issues over all others, while moderate Republicans are concerned about a wider variety of topics.
- Independents are most concerned about pandemic learning loss, the lack of funding for basic needs, insufficient mental health support, and the lack of instruction on practical/technical skills.
- Among parents, the top concerns include insufficient mental health support, inadequate instruction on practical/technical skills, the lack of funding for the basics, and pandemic learning loss.
- Voters across party lines have positive views of public schools and teachers.More than 70 percent of voters (both parents and non-parents) have a favorable view of public school teachers, and voters’ views of public schools and teachers have improved since last year. Public school teachers receive positive ratings across partisan lines, with Independents 70 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable; and Republicans 60 percent favorable and 16 percent unfavorable.
These results highlight the fact that in recent general elections, parents and voters explicitly rejected extremist politicians running on the same agenda as many of the 2024 GOP presidential candidates.
In the 2022 midterm elections, pro-public education candidates won in nearly every competitive gubernatorial race, 71% of the school board races, and many other key offices up and down the ballot. So far in 2023, in recent school board elections culture war candidates continue falling flat with voters, as pro-public education candidates continue winning. Some examples from 2023 school board elections include:
- In Montana, 81% of pro-public education candidates won.
- In Illinois, 90% of pro-public education candidates won.
- In Missouri, 80% of pro-public education candidates won.
- In New York, 85% of pro-public education candidates won.
- In Wisconsin, pro-public education candidates similarly won the vast majority of races, including the race that the chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin called"the most important school board race."
- In Oregon, The Oregonian reported that “‘Culture wars’ candidates for Oregon school boards mostly lost”
- In Lincoln, Neb., all three pro-public education candidates on the ballot won.
“Elections matter. And in election after election, voters continue to reject candidates running on the same agenda that nearly all the 2024 GOP candidates have made central to their campaigns. So, tomorrow night on the debate stage, one has to ask: Will the candidates double down on their extreme and out-of-touch agenda? Or will they finally start listening to parents and voters?” Pringle added.
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org.