The majority of Maryland parents and educators are concerned about the effects of distance learning on students, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Maryland State Education Association.
The poll, conducted by GBAO Strategies Association, found that more than 80 percent of educators are “seriously concerned” about student motivation, class participation, internet access and mental health while teaching students remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 70 percent of parents are concerned about students missing their peers, teachers and extracurricular activities.
The majority of voters support implementing various protective measures before reopening schools, including reducing class sizes to allow for physical distancing, supplying teachers and students with personal protective equipment, and adding more mental health support staff.
Two-thirds of voters support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a sweeping education reform package which would have increased public school funding by nearly $3.4 billion over a 10-year period. Less than one third of voters oppose the plan.
Supporters said the Blueprint would help school systems increase teacher pay, hire more teachers, expand career and technical education programs, more equitably fund schools, and help students by using research-based strategies. Opponents, on the other hand, said “now is not the time” to increase school spending due to the economic effects of the pandemic.
After the Maryland General Assembly passed the school funding bill in April, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed it in May along with more than two dozen other pieces of legislation.
State lawmakers can still override Hogan’s veto when the General Assembly reconvenes.
Only 7 percent of voters said the state spends too much on education, while 60 percent said the state spends too little and 25 percent said education spending is “about the right amount.”
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed many longstanding inequities and issues in education, said Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost.
“The pandemic has exacerbated inequity and trauma that existed widely before the pandemic shuttered schools,” Bost, who is also a Baltimore County elementary school teacher, said in a statement. “These polls clearly show that educators and the public know that we need to protect school funding and the health of our educators and students. Our kids have waited too long for equity in education, and now more than ever we must act to give all of our students the opportunities and support that they deserve.”
GBAO Strategies conducted the poll from May 14-25 and reached respondents by landlines and cell phones.
Pollsters interviewed 650 registered Maryland voters, including 217 parents of kids under 18 years old, and 800 members of the Maryland State Education Association.
There’s a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.
The Maryland State Education Association represents teachers, administrators, students and other education staffers to “create great public schools for every child in Maryland.”
The group actively supported the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.