NEA Poll: Low Online Attendance, Equity Top Educators’ Concerns

With school buildings closed across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll shows educators and their students face significant challenges in making the difficult transition to distance learning. The poll, which surveyed 1,936 National Education Association members, shows the complexity of teaching students with disabilities, providing the same level of education to all students, and higher absenteeism rates are among the top concerns for educators during distance learning. 

Key Findings

  • There are major equity problems with distance learning. Educators who work in schools with higher percent of students receiving free and reduced meals(FARM)report lower class attendance, feel distance learning will be less effective for their students, and believe that closing the digital divide should be a top priority.
  • Educators are concerned about their students who do not have internet access and worry about their at-risk students, in particular.
  • Educators’ top concerns are providing the same level of education for all students, the complexity of teaching students with disabilities, and absenteeism among students, which is a greater challenge in high poverty schools.
  • A plurality of educators say they now have a bigger workload than they did before coronavirus. The workload is particularly pronounced for special education teachers, a majority of whom say they are working more now than they did before.
  • Educators with kids at home are struggling with the daunting task of balancing their distance teaching responsibilities with their role as parents whose children are at home. Among educators with children under 18 at home, 76 percent say they are having a difficult time managing their job with their kids at home. They face challenges balancing two roles: educators adapting to an online curriculum with their students and parents taking care of their childrenwithout alternative childcare. Latino educators, younger educators, and moms are morelikely to report facing these challenges.
  • Educators are doing their best, but distance learning is no replacement for in-person classroom.
  • A poll of parents/guardians shows overwhelming support for the work public school educators and how they are handlingthe coronavirus pandemic.

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