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  • Joanne Jacobs

Most want more focus on academics, less on gender, sex


Quinta Brunson plays a teacher in the ABC comedy "Abbott Elementary," set in Philadelphia.

The red wave turned out to be a purple haze. Moderates outperformed extremists. Democracy did not end. Trumpery lost its luster.


An October survey for the New York Times shows most Americans "were less concerned about any of the contentious social issues than about core academics," report Claire Cain Miller and Francesca Paris.


Most say schools should teach about historic racism, though there's less support for teaching about contemporary "systemic" racism.


What really makes parents uncomfortable is teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity, writes Miller and Paris. They split on whether schools should teach about LGBTQ+ rights and gender diversity, and only 26 percent want students to play on a sports team based on gender identity rather than biological sex.


Those who think schools stayed closed for too long are more dissatisfied, the survey found.

“There’s a certain resentment that comes from abrupt closures of schools and all these parents being told, ‘You go deal with it, this is your job to teach your kids,’ and then they open and one of the main talking points around schools becomes, ‘How dare these parents think they have a say in schools?’” said Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, author of Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture and a historian at the New School.
“Parents are still picking up the pieces, but also feeling chastised and excluded,” she said.

The survey found strong support for rewarding academic merit, write Miller and Paris. Gifted and talented classes "had the support of four in five respondents. And on the idea of having some public school admissions be based on merit, just one quarter were opposed."


Both New York and San Francisco recently reversed efforts to end merit admissions, they note.


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