DENVER | Colorado parents are sharply divided on educational issues such as mask and vaccine mandates and critical race theory, with the split falling heavily along partisan lines, conservative-leaning pollster Magellan Strategies found in a recent survey.
The Colorado-based firm conducted a survey of the state’s parents this month, interviewing a random sample of 516 parents of K-12 students about their opinions on different issues concerning school.
The issues it asked about, such as whether students should be required to wear masks in school, whether teachers should be required to be vaccinated and if critical race theory should be taught in the classroom, have been hot-button topics for months. Across the state, school board meetings have become sites of contention as parents on both sides of the issues came out in force to express their opinions.
The survey found that the sense of division is not an illusion, according to a Tuesday news release publishing the results of the survey. Regarding whether masks should be required for students, 48% of parents agreed and 50% disagreed. When asked whether teachers and staff should be vaccinated, 52% of parents said yes and 45% said no.
Regarding critical race theory, 45% opposed it being taught in schools while 37% were in favor of it. At least 49% of parents were “somewhat or very concerned” that their child would need extra help this school year in at least one core subject area, the survey found.
The results were somewhat more skewed concerning the issues of school performance. For the 2020-2021 school year, 53% of parents thought their local school district did a good job addressing the pandemic, and 40% thought it did a bad job.
Regarding this year, 56% of parents feel their schools should offer in-person and online learning, 37% only in-person. Overall, 79% said their students will be returning in-person full time this year.
When asked if Colorado schools are underfunded, 63% of parents said yes and 22% said no. Asked if they would support a modest tax increase to fund schools, 58% said yes and 34% said no.
The survey found that opinions correlated strongly with partisan identity. For mask mandates, 83% of Democrats said that students should be required to wear masks, and 79% of Republicans disagreed. Parents in rural areas and smaller towns were not as supportive of mask or vaccine mandates as those in the Denver area or the suburbs, the survey said.
Regarding critical race theory, 71% of Democrats supported it being taught and 78% of Republicans opposed it being taught. The survey asked parents to define critical race theory, and received a wide range of responses.
“Parents who were at least somewhat familiar with critical race theory were asked to define critical race theory, and the major themes from the definitions describe CRT as a tool for reexamining history using race, and the idea that racism is built into institutions,” the release said. “There were also many answers regarding left-wing propaganda and discrimination against white people, and the belief that CRT teaches even more hate.”
Magellan published a list of definitions it received, which include “the belief that white people have an inherent bias towards people of color,” a “Marxist tactic to divide the citizens and reconstruct society based on skin color and emphasize negative portrayals of history,” “teaching how racism has shaped public policy” and “teaching white hate.”
The survey also published responses to questions about why schools are headed in either the right or wrong direction. The variety of answers highlight the level of division the survey found.
“They are enforcing a mask mandate and also educating parents of students 12 and up with getting a vaccine,” one parent wrote in response to why she thought the schools in her area were headed in the right direction.
The next parent’s response to the same question: “They are not forcing mask mandates, or vaccines.”