By Janellen Duffy and Jamilah Muhammad

As we approach the two-year anniversary of school closures due to COVID — and kick off budget season with the governor’s budget address on March 8th — we are in a defining moment to double down on the state’s education recovery.

Educators and families across the state have faced enormous challenges addressing students’ educational and other needs. These efforts have been heroic and exhausting, and we need to acknowledge that, especially as we consider future policy reforms that are needed.

At this critical juncture, JerseyCAN and Parent Impact just released a new statewide poll of public school parents, conducted by Global Strategy Group, which provides state leaders with a clear understanding of parents’ concerns and top priorities for addressing students’ education needs.

This poll builds on a parent initiative called “NJ Kids Can’t Wait,” which was launched last fall by JerseyCAN to provide parents and teachers with the tools and resources needed to support their students this year and address the significant learning gaps that have emerged due to the pandemic. The poll findings have both immediate and longer-term implications and provide a blueprint on how we create a more robust education recovery in our state.

More specifically, we found that:

    • New Jersey public school parents have deep academic concerns about their children. Parents are particularly concerned about children falling behind in math (41%) and reading (29%) – which is consistent with the statewide Start Strong data.
    • As a result, New Jersey parents want to see bold changes in education. They indicated this in two areas of the poll: 55% of parents said that schools should be focused on rethinking how we educate students and coming up with new ways to teach students. In another question, 63% of parents said they want to see new federal funding for education used to make bold changes, instead of returning to the old normal (37%).
    • Parents are demanding additional academic support for students — 59% want to see more instructional time and they also strongly support tutoring and individualized learning plans.
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