A new survey released by MassINC Polling Group on Thursday found only 32% of parents said they were "very satisfied" overall with Boston Public Schools, down 10 percentage points from last year.
Seven in 10 parents also said they were concerned about frequent substitute teachers, late buses and their children’s physical and emotional well-being while at school.
This poll is the fifth in a series of surveys conducted by MassINC on parents’ overall satisfaction with BPS. This first poll, conducted in July and August 2021, found that 42% of parents were “very satisfied” with BPS. Since then, that number has declined to 32%.
“The satisfaction level in this wave was similar to what we found in the wave we put out in August of this year. That's somewhat down from the surveys that we've done earlier,” said Steve Koczela, the president of the MassINC Polling Group. “It's not a huge surprise. We're looking at satisfaction from a lot of different angles, and it kind of echoed some of the other things that we were seeing throughout the poll.”
The share of parents who said they are “somewhat satisfied” has changed less, from 45% in the first poll to 47% percent in the latest poll.
Travis Marshall, a BPS parent and member of the grassroots parents’ group Quality Education for Every Student, said that most parents love the school their children attend — but feel that the system is a mess.
“Being a BPS parent is kind of like being tugged in two very different directions,” said Marshall, who was not involved in the poll. “I feel like my kids are getting a great education in public schools. But I also see the problems in superintendent turnover.”
New superintendent Mary Skipper took up the helm at Boston Public Schools’ in September. Former superintendent Brenda Cassellius left after three years on the job, the latest in a string of short tenures over the last decade.
The poll found that BPS parents want to be more engaged with the district than they feel they can be. Eighty-two percent of parents said they want to be “very engaged,” but only 46% feel that BPS enables them to be as engaged as they want to be.
“I would say the district definitely needs to do better in terms of how it conducts outreach,” Marshall said. “Any Boston Public School parent will tell you that you get dozens and dozens of emails a week from the district, from your kid's school. But in terms of the larger district hearing people, I think there's a disconnect there.”
Koczela says one of the bigger issues they found was that almost 70% of parents said they were at least “somewhat concerned” with their child’s physical and emotional well-being while at school.
Parents of color showed more concern for their child’s well-being at school compared to white parents. More specifically, among Black parents, 54% were “very concerned” for their child’s emotional well-being and 62% were “very concerned” for their physical well-being.
Black parents also reported the lowest level of satisfaction with BPS, with 19% calling themselves “very satisfied.”
“There are a lot of different issues that contribute to overall satisfaction. Some of them are day to day,” Koczela said. “It's things like buses being late, lots of substitute teachers and parents wanting to be more engaged. And then there are some bigger ones.”
Only 31% of parents whose children ride the bus to school say that buses have always been on time. Thirty-nine percent of parents reported their children being taught by a substitute a few times a month while 10% said every day.
The full findings of the poll, which was sponsored by The Shah Family Foundation, can be found here.