ParentsTogether Survey Reveals Remote Learning is Failing Our Most Vulnerable Students

As schools prepare for distance learning to continue in some form, Congress must provide resources to prevent low-income students and students with learning challenges from falling further behind

May 27, 2020, New York, NY – ParentsTogether Action, a national parent-led organization with over 2 million members, has released the results of a survey of more than 1,500 families around the country regarding the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on kids’ education. The results reveal huge disparities in the success of remote learning depending on family income, and show that remote learning is jeopardizing the education of our most vulnerable students. This crisis has exposed and exacerbated existing inequities and millions of families have been left without the resources they need to help their kids succeed. 

According to parents, children from low-income families and those who should receive additional support through Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) are facing particular challenges with distance learning. For example, kids from homes with incomes of less than $25,000 a year are ten times more likely to be doing little to no remote learning than their peers from homes making more than $100,000 a year. 13% of those from low-income homes have either no device or no internet, compared to 1% of families with incomes greater than $50,000. And nearly 40% of parents whose kids should be receiving individualized support say they are not receiving any support at all. 

“This pandemic has turned the cracks in our education system into an abyss that threatens to swallow our most vulnerable kids. As school closes for summer, Congress must take urgent action to give students access to the resources they desperately need before school begins again in the fall,” said Justin Ruben, Co-Director of ParentsTogether Action. “As state budgets are slashed, our schools are having to cut programs and teachers at an alarming rate. Without a vast increase in federal funding so our schools can provide vital services, an entire generation of kids are going to be left behind.” 

To address this crisis, ParentsTogether Action is supporting a call by dozens of organizations representing teachers, principals, and parents for at least $175 billion more for K-12 schools. 

Below, please find topline findings from ParentsTogether Action’s survey of 1,594 parents, which was conducted via Facebook Messenger:

  • Comparing responses of parents with a household income of less than $25,000 a year vs. those who make more than $100,000 reveals stark inequities in remote learning opportunities. For example: 
    • Parents from low-income homes are ten times more likely to say their kids are doing little or no remote learning (once a week or less) (38% vs. 3.7%) 
    • Kids from low-income homes are three times more likely not to have consistent access to a device (32% vs 10%) and five times more likely to go to a school not offering distance learning materials or activities at all (11% vs 2%).
    • Parents from low income homes are twice as likely to say remote learning is going poorly or very poorly (36% vs. 18%) and are more likely to say their kid’s work is mostly or entirely busy work (35% vs. 19%).
  • Additionally, the survey also revealed that the kids in need of individualized support are also facing major challenges. 
    • Just 20% of parents whose children have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or are entitled to other special education services say that they are receiving those services.
    • 39% are not receiving any support at all. 
    • Children who qualify for individual learning plans are also: 
      • Twice as likely as their peers to be doing little or no remote learning (35% vs. 17%). 
      • Twice as likely to say that distance learning is going poorly (40% vs. 19% for those without IEPs). 
      • Almost twice as concerned about their kids’ mental health (40% vs. 23% for those without IEPs).

About ParentsTogether: ParentsTogether is a national, parent-led organization with over two million community members from coast to coast working together to build a world where every child and family can thrive. Our membership is socio-economically and racially diverse, and includes parents from every state. For more information, contact Madison Donzis [email protected].