The Latino Policy Institute (LPI) has released the results from a recent poll which surveyed 261 Providence Latino parents conducted in February 2021 by Change Research regarding the experiences and views of local parents on issues around virtual learning, COVID-19 concerns, as well as the 2019 Providence Public School District takeover and the expansion of public charter schools.
“We saw how COVID-19 compounded barriers for our most vulnerable Rhode Islanders over the last year, and this poll demonstrates exactly how far reaching and long lasting its effects will be,” said LPI Director Marcela Betancur. “We have much to understand on the barriers Latino parents in Providence tackle each day in the health, education, and financial security of their families. As we work towards the recovery of our state, these barriers will not only slow us down but deepen existing generational divides if they are not addressed in meaningful ways.”
Results of the poll demonstrated that a 46% majority of Latino parents in Providence believed that the virtual learning experience is generally worse than in-person learning, while only fifteen percent 15% believed that in-person learning is generally better for children. However, a majority 48% of those polled also expressed that the Providence school district has done a good job educating students virtually this past year.
The poll also found that at the time, 92% of parents remained concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in their community. While vaccine access has increased since February, COVID-19 remains an important issue among the Latino community, which had one of the highest infection rates in the state.
While it has been over one year since the State of Rhode Island took control of PPSD due to poor academic performance, many Latino parents in Providence were largely unaware of the impact that this has had on the District. 31% of parents are unsure the takeover has had any significant difference, while 28% believe there have been no differences. To understand how parents felt about the quality of the schools and teachers in the District, we asked parents to rate how favorable their feelings are towards each. A 54% majority of Latino parents in Providence have favorable opinions of teachers in their area, and only 11% have unfavorable opinions about them. Opinions of the public school systems were slightly less favorable than teachers across the board at 45% favorability.
Finally, with the recent controversy around public charter school expansion, the poll asked parents about their views on them and found that a 56% majority of Latino parents in Providence have favorable views of charter schools. By comparison, 45% had favorable opinions of local public schools and 24% had unfavorable opinions. A large 63% majority of Providence’s Latino parents are also in support of more charter schools in Providence and only 10% are opposed to more charter schools.
“The result of the poll demonstrate that the experiences and views of Providence Latino parents are nuanced,” Betancur said. “It is important that organizations and leaders across the city and state continue to remember that when decisions, policies, or assumptions are made without centering the voices of those who are directly impacted. It will only lead to failure.”
LPI will utilize the results of the poll to convene thoughtful conversations about the issues of virtual learning, the PPSD takeover and charter school expansion with parents, students, and other stakeholders including the District leadership and the Department of Education.