Boston, MA — According to a new poll released today by the National Parents Union (NPU), only 46% of parents have heard about the funding that schools are receiving from the federal government and how those funds can be used. Just 21% of parents say their children’s schools have asked parents to give input on how these additional funds should be used. For lower income families, whose household income is less than $50,000, only 17% say they’ve been asked for feedback.
In addition to most families not being asked for input, 56% of parents say they have not seen or heard anything about additional resources being used in their child’s school or classroom to address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To address the awareness and engagement gap, the National Parents Union is launching the Everyday Parents Impacting Change (EPIC) campaign. In a letter sent to elected leaders across the country, NPU explained that, in partnership with families and advocates in communities nationwide, EPIC will:
“This data reflects the stories we hear from parents on the ground as we travel across the country,” said Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union. “Far too many school leaders believe they can revert back to the status quo of doing as they please and ignoring parents. That will not be happening on our watch and that is why we are launching this new watchdog campaign. We are going to hold them accountable for how the funding is being used, ensure that parents are involved in the process every step of the way, and help parents fight to ensure this money actually makes it down to our children in the classroom and is equitably distributed to make sure it helps the kids who need it the most.”
The survey also found that when asked about priorities for how the funds should be spent, parents said the following are most important: computers and high-speed internet access (79%), services and support for students with disabilities (79%), face masks/hand sanitizer/hand soap (78%), free lunch and breakfast program (78%), and guidance counselors/social workers/psychologists (75%).
When parents were asked what would be most helpful for their children specifically, respondents said, individualized learning plans for each student (23%), PPE such as face masks, hand sanitizer and soap (23%), providing direct grants to parents of $500 per child for educational needs (22%), computers and high-speed internet access for students (21%), and free breakfast and lunch programs (20%).
Overall, 57% of parents say the additional federal funding opens the door to making bold changes in public education and we should take advantage of this opportunity.
The EPIC campaign will be co-led by education advocate and National Organizing Director at NPU Tafshier Cosby and Vivett Dukes, a career- educator and NPU’s Deputy Director of Organizing. Cosby, Dukes, and other members of the NPU team will continue to travel across the U.S. meeting with families, education justice advocates and school leaders on the ground to hear about how districts are utilizing the federal funding and provide resources to help local organizations.NPU will partner with nationally recognized researchers to determine how ESSER and ARP funding is being used and whether or not it’s being used effectively to address unfinished learning.
“More than $100 billion is flowing to schools across the country and parents are being largely shut out of the process,” said Cosby. “If we let school districts squander this money as they have time and time again, it will have a multi-generational impact. On the contrary, if school leaders and policymakers engage with parents, we will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make equity-infused investments that could change the education trajectory of millions of kids.”
Dukes added, “As a former classroom teacher, I know that informed parents are the best advocates for their children and need to be engaged. School boards and district leaders must urgently implement a process to ensure parents have a key decision-making seat at the table when determining how this funding is spent. After what parents have experienced for the past 18 months, the idea that school leaders aren’t engaging them is unfathomable. And yet, here we are. Now, we are putting schools on notice, and we will fight, as we always do, for the best interests of our children.”
Survey of N=1,006 parents of public school students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade
Field Dates: September 9-13, 2021
The National Parents Union is a network of parent organizations and grassroots activists across the country committed to improving the quality of life for children and families in the United States. NPU unites these organizations behind a common set of principles that put children and families at the center of the national education narrative. With delegates representing each of the 50 states, NPU disrupts the traditional role of parent voice in policy spaces and develops a new narrative that is inclusive of families from a wide variety of intersectional perspectives.