2023 Across the Aisle Report: 2024 Voters Communicate “Core Values” for Education – Want Real-World Skills, Safe Schools, and Literacy

December 14, 2023

The Hunt Institute’s 2023 Across the Aisle: Bridging the Education Divide survey reveals changing parental demands, growing interest in school choice policies, and calls for stronger investments in students and educators.


Cary, NC The Hunt Institute today released its annual Across the Aisle: Bridging the Education Divide survey, which found a majority of voters nationwide, 85 percent, believe that “we must equip every school with the resources necessary to deliver a quality education that prepares every child for the future, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they come.”

“Our Across the Aisle work continues to emphasize the growing disconnect around what voters and parents truly care about when it comes to our education system,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President and CEO of The Hunt Institute. “Families are resilient, and at the end of the day, they only want what is best for their children – and that means real-world skills training, safe schools, and literacy development.”

“Parents and voters have provided our leaders with a clear mandate: invest in our students and our educators. These findings should serve as a call to action for state leaders,” said former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, who has partnered with The Hunt Institute on the annual survey.


Key findings from this year’s survey include:


Parent and Voter “Core Values” for Education

  • 8 in 10 surveyed voters believe that hiring quality teachers is a very important issue for education leaders to address. Other priorities include ensuring schools are free of guns and physical violence (79 percent), ensuring students are reading at their grade level (73 percent), teaching real-world skills for the future workforce (70 percent), and more.
  • Voters believe that:
    • Schools should teach history and current events accurately so that our students don’t have an incomplete understanding compared to other students around the world (92 percent).
    • Investing in our children is not a political choice, it is a moral choice, it is the right choice, and it is a smart choice (92 percent).
    • Our public school teachers need resources in the classroom that allow for personalized learning, up-to-date textbooks, and technology (91 percent).
  • Divisive topics like book banning and curriculum censorship and teaching about gender and sexuality in the classroom are not significant priorities for voters (24 percent and 26 percent, respectively).
  • Voters are most likely to say that not teaching real-world skills for the future of the workforce is a very big problem in education today (80 percent).
    • Other issues seen as big problems facing our education system include ensuring public schools are free of guns and other physical violence (76 percent), students not reading at grade level (76 percent), teacher salaries (75 percent), and ensuring public schools are free of bullying (including cyber bullying) (78 percent). 


Academics and Curriculum

  • Parents believe they know how their child is doing academically and social-emotionally. More than nine in ten parents are confident in their personal understanding of how their child is performing academically (92 percent confident, 62 percent very confident).
    • Parents are also most likely to say their child progressed “very well” in reading at their grade level (62 percent) and in academic learning (52 percent).
    • Additionally, slightly less than half of parents say their child has progressed “very well” in mental health (47 percent) and social and emotional learning (45 percent).
  • Voters view curriculum oversight as a partnership between teachers and parents. 55 percent of voters say teachers should have a lot of oversight in K-12 curriculum decisions, followed by parents of school-aged children (44 percent), school principals (36 percent), and local school boards (29 percent). Voters see little role to no role for local and national elected officials (53 and 58 percent, respectively).
    • Voters were also receptive to proposals to ensure parents are involved in setting the curriculum around what their child is taught (76 percent) and a majority indicated they would be willing to review and provide feedback on student curriculum (78 percent). In general, voters feel that parents already have a partnership with teachers, and this feeling has increased over time.


Thoughts on Education Spending

  • Voters nationwide believe we are spending too little on public education. A plurality of voters, 45 percent, say their state spends too little on public school funding, down seven percent from 2022. When we drill deeper down to the community level, voters are split between saying public school funding is the right amount and too little.
    • Voters are less likely to view their local schools as spending too little. Despite this, the prevailing belief nationally continues to be that schools are underfunded.


About Across the Aisle

Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Hunt Institute’s Across the Aisle initiative connects public needs to policymakers by collecting firsthand experiences, perceptions, and priorities from the public and translating them into actionable, nonpartisan policies that will fundamentally change education for the better. As part of this work, The Hunt Institute has produced several resources and convenings, including:

  • An annual public opinion survey further capturing the challenges, perceptions, and priorities of voters and parents.
  • Policy briefs, blog posts, and op-ed publications that highlight key education issues and solutions for recovery.
  • Webinars highlighting public priority topics, stakeholder engagement, and our survey findings.
  • Convenings with state education leaders to create actionable solutions to state-specific issues.

The 2023 Across the Aisle Survey was conducted in July 2023 and reached a total of 1,300 likely 2024 voters, which includes a base sample of 800 likely voters and oversamples of 100 African American likely voters, 100 Asian American Pacific Islander likely voters, 100 Latino/a likely voters, 100 Native American likely voters, and 100 likely voters who are parents of school-aged children.

Learn more about Across the Aisle and access the full report here.


About The Hunt Institute

The Hunt Institute, an affiliate of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, is a recognized leader in the movement to transform public education. Marshaling expertise from a nationwide partner network since its establishment in 2001, the Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success. For more information, please visit: http://www.hunt-institute.org/.

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