New Ipsos poll for We Believe finds a strong majority of Americans want K-12 public schools to teach students about cultures, identities, and perspectives different from their own
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Banned Books Week (October 1-7) has taken on new urgency and meaning in the past several years as books continue to be removed from our children’s library and classroom shelves. Against this backdrop, a new Ipsos poll for We Believe, a project of ParentsTogether, finds that most Americans, including parents of school-aged children, trust educators to teach age-appropriate curriculum and oppose restrictions on what books and curriculum are taught in K-12 public schools. As we look ahead to the upcoming election year, the poll also finds that seventy-eight percent (78%) of Americans say they are less likely to support a political candidate in the 2024 elections who favors book bans.
By contrast, the results reveal that about half of Americans and parents would support a state law that prohibits book banning. Furthermore, eighty percent (80%) of Americans believe K-12 public schools should teach students about cultures, identities, and perspectives that may be different from their own.
While the right wing has pursued a strategy of politicizing classrooms and learning, the poll makes clear that these priorities do not align with the values or desires of most Americans and parents when it comes to K-12 education, which recent elections have similarly borne out.
“The numbers don’t lie,” said Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director at ParentsTogether. “Despite what extremist politicians carrying the mantle of ‘parents’ rights’ would have us believe, parents generally do not want extremists banning books, censoring curriculum, removing AP classes from course lists, and canceling theatrical productions. Parents want our children to be safe, supported, and successful, and that starts with classrooms where they can learn and grow without interference from extremist politicians and activists,” Arreaza continued.
The poll shows that parents across the board want their children to learn a range of perspectives and be introduced to age-appropriate lessons on a variety of topics — even challenging ones. While Democrats are more likely than Republicans to oppose book bans and curriculum restrictions, most Republicans still say they would be less likely to support a candidate in 2024 who is in favor of book bans or adding age requirements for library cards. More than half of Republicans also say teachers should at least be able to answer students’ questions about race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Rather than supporting the restriction of classroom discussions or content, the poll shows that Americans and parents largely support school districts offering new courses focused on African-American History or ethnic studies (64% and 60% respectively), results that stand in stark contrast with political rhetoric endorsing classroom censorship and education intimidation tactics.
“The findings of this survey mirror trends we’re seeing across the board,” explained Chris Jackson, Senior Vice President at Ipsos. “The recent culture wars in education—whether around books, curriculum, or library cards—do not resonate with the American public at large,” Jackson continued.
The poll also finds:
Ipsos interviewed a sample of 1,115 adults age 18+—with an oversample of parents of school-aged children— from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. The survey was conducted August 18-21, 2023, on behalf of We Believe, a project of ParentsTogether. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level for all respondents.
View the results to learn more.
In addition, Ipsos conducted a series of six (6) in-depth, ethnographic, interviews among parents of school-aged children living in Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia. Watch the film to hear what parents really want for their children’s education.
We Believe, a Project of ParentsTogether
ParentsTogether is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization providing independent reporting and commentary on issues that affect kids and families. We cover the latest research, policies, and trends so that busy parents have the information they need to help their families thrive. In both our reporting and our commentary, we value accuracy, present facts fairly, and aim to provide news coverage that is reflective of and relevant to our audience.
We Believe is a movement of parents and families fighting for our children’s freedom to learn.
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