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Poll: Californians believe quality of public education is worsening amid pandemic

Californians think the quality of education in the state’s K-12 public schools has gotten worse over the past few years with more than 4 in 10 parents believing their children have fallen behind in school during the pandemic, the Public Policy Institute of California found in a poll released Wednesday.

Only 13% of Californians think public schools have improved this year, the poll found, while 42% believe they have gotten worse. Another 42% believe schools have not changed since 2021.

Almost half of parents say they would send their child to a private school or a religious school if cost and location were not an issue, the poll found.

“They are divided on whether the biggest challenge for students is catching up academically or dealing with the pandemic’s social-emotional impacts. Most approve of no longer requiring masks in schools and support requiring COVID vaccines for teachers and students,” the PPIC reported.

Solid majorities of adults (60%) and public school parents (73%) approve of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s handling of education, a trend that dates to 2019.

Similar support surfaced for approval of the state Legislature’s handling of K-12 education with 56% of adults and 71% of public school parents voicing approval. That’s an improvement among public school parents. Last April, 52% said they were much less likely to approve.