Family Insights

An Annual Poll of Los Angeles Families

Los Angeles families have an important perspective on our public education system.

As this historic pandemic continues into a third school year, we are humbled by the resilience of families, students, and educators in Los Angeles who continue to navigate the challenges of going to school, going to work, and staying safe. It is that resilience that inspires us to launch an annual poll of Los Angeles families’ experiences, beliefs, and attitudes about our public schools.

We hope this annual representative poll of Los Angeles public school families will inform the critical decisions that the Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles Unified) and independent charter school leaders are making to distribute financial resources and address the academic, social, emotional and mental impacts of the pandemic on students. We encourage leaders to apply these findings authentically and meaningfully to engage families, and to establish a more equitable and quality local public school system.

The poll was conducted by Gotham Research Group over the phone and online from September 27 through October 24, 2021, among a representative sample of families (parents and guardians) with school-aged children attending district public schools and charter public schools within the Los Angeles Unified boundaries. The poll intentionally includes families (rather than just parents) recognizing that children have different types of parents and guardians whose opinions are reflective of the Los Angeles public school experience. The margin of error is ±4.4 percentage points for the full survey sample of 500, and higher among subgroups and questions not asked of the full sample.

We extend our most enthusiastic gratitude to the families in our poll design focus group and to those that took the time to participate in the poll. We heard from Los Angeles families; it is time for our educational leaders to act in response to their priorities and perspectives.

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Major Trends and Findings

Families share their perspectives on the state of Los Angeles public education.

  • Leadership matters, especially in times of crisis.

    The vast majority of families (94%) agree: the Los Angeles Unified superintendent should be publicly evaluated annually.

  • Almost all families believe (96%) that students in low-income communities should receive more public school dollars.
  • Los Angeles families give positive marks in terms of schools’ handling of health and safety, additional learning resources and support during the pandemic.

    But major disparities exist in how low-income families and families of color experienced support from schools during COVID-19.

  • Moving forward, families believe the education system in Los Angeles should be focused on rethinking how we educate students rather than returning to pre-pandemic schooling.

    This includes more academic learning opportunities and support on a regular basis, especially tutoring, during the school day or after school.

  • Despite the challenges of the pandemic and reopening this school year, many families feel heard and that their input is represented in policy at their school.

    However, Black, low-income families, and those who responded to the interview in Spanish report the lowest levels of input in policy decisions.

Methodology

The poll was conducted by Gotham Research Group over the phone and online from September 27 through October 24, 2021, among a representative sample of families (parents and caretakers) with school-aged children attending district public schools and charter public schools within the Los Angeles Unified District (LAUSD) boundaries.

The poll intentionally includes families, rather than just parents, recognizing that children have different types of parents and caregivers whose opinions are reflective of the Los Angeles public school experience. Please note that all poll results are presented as percentages and, due to rounding, may not always add to 100%.

The sample is broadly representative of the population of Los Angeles families with students attending district, magnet, pilot, and both affiliated and independent charter public schools, and aligns with key demographic variables of enrollment by grade level, race/ethnicity, school type, language-learner status, language spoken in the home, and family income level

Potential respondents were invited via email or phone to participate in the survey, with the majority of surveys and interviews (n=358) conducted by phone—with half reached on cell phones and half on landlines. Phone surveys were conducted with live English and Spanish Speaking interviewers—72% (n=360) were conducted in English and 28% (n=140) in Spanish. Respondents were screened to ensure they self-identify as currently responsible for school age children in public or charter schools within the geographic boundary of LAUSD. The margin of error is ±4.4 percentage points for the full survey sample of 500, and higher among subgroups and questions not asked of the full sample.

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