Jessica Grose of The New York Times shouldn't have been surprised by these recent poll numbers about parental satisfaction with schools.
Vicarious Right-Wing Rage Should Never Be A Surprise
Credit: Steve Greenberg
March 22, 2022

Jessica Grose of The New York Times is surprised:

I would have thought that the latest numbers about parental satisfaction [with schools] might be lower because of all the pandemic-related chaos. But according to Gallup, which has tracked school satisfaction annually since 1999, in 2021, “73 percent of parents of school-aged children say they are satisfied with the quality of education their oldest child is receiving.” More parents were satisfied in 2021 than they were in 2013 and 2002, when satisfaction dipped into the 60s....

Digging deeper into the Gallup numbers revealed that the people who seem to be driving the negative feelings toward American schools do not have children attending them: Overall, only 46 percent of Americans are satisfied with schools....

Polling done by the Charles Butt Foundation shows a similar dynamic playing out in Texas.... The third annual poll, which was of 1,154 Texas adults, found:

The share of public school parents giving their local public schools an A or B grade is up 12 percentage points in two years to 68 percent in the latest statewide survey on public education by the Charles Butt Foundation. In contrast with the increase among parents, there’s a decline in school ratings among those without a child currently enrolled in K-12 schools. Forty-eight percent of nonparents now give their local public schools A’s and B's, versus 56 percent a year ago.

... TargetSmart, which bills itself as a Democratic political data and data services firm, analyzed records showing who voted in Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election, which has been touted as a win for the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, that was based on unhappiness over the way the previously Democratic-led state handled the pandemic in schools.

TargetSmart found:

Turnout among voters age 75 or older increased by 59 percent, relative to 2017.... Notably, turnout of all other age groups combined (18-74), which would likely include parents of school-aged children, only increased by 9 percent compared to 2017 ... This “silver surge” is an untold story that fundamentally undermines the conventional wisdom that Covid-19 protocols in schools and fears about critical race theory in curriculum determined the outcome of the election.

All of this at least raises the question of whether some of the people driving the outrage, even animus, against schools might not have much skin in the game and might not have any recent experience with teachers or curriculum.

If the people who are angriest about schools aren't parents of school-age children, we shouldn't be surprised. Where is anger about immigration concentrated? Not in cities that have a lot of undocumented immigrants. The anger is largely in suburbs and rural areas where undocumented immigrants are rarely seen. This is also where you find the people who are most upset about cities being burned down in Antifa riots. (Locals aren't happy, but at least they know that, for instance, the entirety of Portland, Orgeon, isn't a smoldering ruin.)

George W. Bush won the 2004 election largely on the basis of his actions in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. But he lost 82%-17% in New York County -- Manhattan -- where the worst attack took place. He lost Arlington County, Virginia, site of the Pentagon, 68%-31%, and lost Washington, D.C., 89%-9%. Bush's support and support for his invasion of Iraq came primarily from people who lived far from the 9/11 attacks and watched them on TV.

Vicarious right-wing rage should never be a surprise. It's easy to gin up because the angry people can't reality-test what they're hearing. If they're inclined to anger, they'll believe whatever they're told. People with first-hand experience of a subject know better.

Posted with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog

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