K-12 education: Top priority for California parents of color, survey finds

Casey Zhang/Staff

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California parents of color view improving K-12 education as a top priority for the next governor to address, a recent poll found.

The survey, which was commissioned by The Education Trust-West, or ETW, and UnidosUS, found that 9 out of 10 Black, Latinx and Asian Pacific Islander parents view improving K-12 education in California as a high priority for the next governor and superintendent of public instruction to address.

The survey also found that Latinx, Black and Asian Pacific Islander parents said improving education was a higher priority than improving access to health care and affordable housing.

“This is a major call to action for the next governor of California,” Kristin Costa, an account executive at public education reform firm Larson Communications, said in an email. “He or she must make significant progress improving our nation’s schools and equity in education.”

ETW and UnidosUS surveyed 600 parents throughout California, all of whom are a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in a state K-12 public school. ETW and UnidosUS specifically surveyed Black, Latinx and Asian Pacific Islander parents, groups which, according to Costa, often face obstacles when sharing feedback with their children’s schools. 

In the past, California education polls have not prioritized surveying parents of color, according to Elisha Smith Arrillaga, who is the ETW interim co-executive director. Seven out of 10 students in the California public school system are students of color, Arrillaga said, and the ETW wanted to conduct a poll that accurately reflected this population.

The most recent California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress tests found that from 2017 to 2018, there was nearly a 4 percent decrease in the number of 11th-graders who met or exceeded standards in English language arts, or ELA, proficiency and a 0.77 percent decrease in math proficiency.

According to Arrillaga, however, incremental changes can be seen within subgroups.

Economically disadvantaged students, for example, saw a 2.17 percent increase in ELA proficiency and a 1.66 percent increase in math proficiency.

Arrillaga said while this increase in proficiency is “exciting,” these changes are not occurring fast enough. She added that at the current pace of change, low-income students in California will not be ELA proficient until 2047 and math proficient until 2063.

“We are really excited about the possibility of the future we can hold but only if we move with more urgency in the state of California,” Arrillaga said. It’s important that we speed up the urgency with which we are making these changes, especially with the next administration.”

Amber Tang is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ambertang_dc.