by Dr. Robert Luebke
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
If you think instruction in North Carolina’s K-12 public-schools is becoming more political, you’re not alone.
The October 2021 Civitas Poll found 75 percent of respondents said schools had become “more political,” compared to 10 percent who thought schools “stayed the same” and 3 percent who believe schools have become “less political.” Additionally, 12 percent of respondents were undecided about the issue.
The June 2021 Civitas Poll asked the same question. Then, 65 percent of respondents said classrooms were ‘more political,” 13 percent said “neither more nor less political,” while 4 percent of respondents said classrooms were “less political.”
So, in the last four months the percentage of respondents who believe classroom instruction is more political increased almost 10 percent.
Where did the numbers come from? The shift came in part from folks in the middle who felt the schools had largely stayed the same. In June, 12.8 percent of respondents believed classrooms were “neither more nor less political.” By October that declined to 9.8 percent.
Who are the people that are fueling increasing concern about politics in the schools?
A review of the October poll’s crosstabs finds that 87 percent of Republicans believe classroom instruction is more political, a full 66 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Independents do as well.
If you divide the question by ideology, the numbers are still relatively evenly divided. Eighty-seven percent of conservatives believe classrooms are more political, compared to 74 percent of moderates and 57 percent of liberals.
Dividing poll results by race shows a similar pattern: broad concern over politics in the classroom. The October Civitas Poll results found 76 percent of White or Caucasian respondents believe classrooms are more political, 70 percent of Blacks or African Americans also believe, along with 82 percent of Hispanic or Latino voters, and 91 percent of “other voters.”
The Left says such pushback about politics in the classroom is coming from the far right and Republicans. While conservatives and Republicans clearly believe classrooms are more political than five years ago, so too do high percentages of Democrats, Independents, African Americans, and Hispanics.
Politics in the classroom is a concern for a growing number of North Carolinians whose views reflect a diversity of political views, ideologies and races.
It should be reported that way.