SLU/YouGov Poll: COVID-19 Has Impacted Working Parents, While Missourians Split on School Quality
A new Saint Louis University/YouGov Poll finds Missouri voters with school-age children were more likely to state they had been impacted by the pandemic, with 58% of voters with children stating they have implemented some sort of home learning.
Sixty-five percent of Missouri voters approved of the way their school district handled the pandemic in the spring, with only 14% disapproving. This support was even stronger among poll respondents who stated they have children, with 72% approving of their school district’s handling the pandemic. During our poll in late June, 59% of voters said they agree with having face-to-face school in the fall.
As schools across the state weigh their options for re-opening in the fall, they must balance students’ needs, parents’ desires, and the safety of the school community. The poll confirmed that having children learn at home because of the COVID shutdown has had an impact on Missourians.
“Poll responses confirm that those with school-age children, especially women, have made significant professional sacrifices to adjust to pandemic circumstances,” said Cameron Anglum, Ph.D., assistant professor of education policy and equity at Saint Louis University.
Female voters were more likely to state that they were working fewer hours, alternating work hours, and working outside of normal business hours to accommodate homeschooling activities with their children amid the pandemic.
Our poll also finds that Missourians favor their local schools to schools statewide, though neither garnered convincing support. Thirteen percent of Missouri voters rated their local school as excellent, 35% rated local schools as good, 32% rated local schools as fair, and 16% rated their school as poor. Missourians are less positive about schools across the state, with 46% rating schools statewide fair and 17% rating schools as poor. Only 30% rate Missouri’s schools as good or excellent.
Voters of different racial backgrounds disagreed about the condition of their local schools. Most non-white voters rated their local schools as fair or poor, while 50% of white voters rated their local schools as good or excellent. Fifty-three percent of non-white voters rated Missouri’s schools as fair and 22% rated Missouri schools as poor. Over half (56%) of Missouri voters who identify as Republicans rated their local schools as good or excellent while only 43% of Democrats rated their local schools as such.
“Compared to the results we see in national education polls, Missourians are less happy with their local schools,” said Evan Rhinesmith, Ph.D., associate director of the SLU/YouGov Poll. “Generally, anywhere from 60% to 70% of voters say their local schools are either good or excellent. That is not the case with Missourians,” Rhinesmith added.
There also exists a stark divide between Democrats and Republicans in Missouri concerning government priorities. Republicans (62%) overwhelmingly support a focus on the economy while most Democrats (51%) favor a focus on health care. Education was typically third or fourth on the list of priorities.
Early findings show that, while Missourians are less than enthusiastic about their schools, they also may be ill-informed on certain key education questions in the state. Most Missourians (60%) incorrectly identified public charter schools as private schools, but still, support the formation of charter schools in the state. Similarly, two-thirds of likely voters underestimate the average salary of a public school teacher in Missouri. Still, 74% of Missouri voters believe teachers should be paid more.
Methodology and Funding
YouGov interviewed 900 likely Missouri voters between June 23, 2020, and July 1, 2020. The YouGov panel, a proprietary opt-in survey panel, is comprised of 1.2 million U.S. residents who have agreed to participate in YouGov Web surveys. Using their gender, age, race, and education, YouGov weighted the set of survey respondents to known characteristics of registered voters of Missouri voters from the 2018 Current Population survey. The margin of error for the weighted data is 3.95%. The SLU/YouGov Poll is funded by SLU Research Institute Big Ideas competition, which provides funding to research initiatives that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership and compelling research plans.
Saint Louis University has partnered with YouGov to conduct its annual survey of Missourians. YouGov conducts surveys for multiple academic institutions and is the primary, trusted survey firm for media organizations, including CBS News and The Economist. An independent Pew Research Center study of online survey firms in 2016 further concluded YouGov “consistently outperforms competitors.”
About Saint Louis University
Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.