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Poll Results Released on Ethnic Parents' Perspectives on Education

by Vanessa Woodard Byers


Public Opinion Survey on Educational Issues in the Southeastern United States

Positive Aspirations vs. Negative Realities


Panelists at roundtable discussion on education reform (left to right): Liz Looney; Dr. Pablo Ortiz; Modesto E. Abety-Gutierrez; Raquel A. Regalado; Sergio Bendixen; Dr. Lenore Rodicio; McNelly Torres and Lucie Tondreau 

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, New America Media assembled local ethnic media for the release of results of a poll on education. The release was part of the agenda of a roundtable discussion on education reform. Miami Dade College-Wolfson Campus hosted more than 50 media and invited guests. While I participated in the event in my capacity as media, I was particularly interested in the topic as a public education advocate and veteran  school district administrator. 

Sergio Bendixen of Bendixen and Amandi International presented the results of the poll which was commissioned by New America Media with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. African-American, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian parents were sampled throughout eight states — Florida; Georgia; North Carolina; Tennessee; Kentucky; Louisiana; Arkansas and Texas.

Parents were asked questions on several topics including teacher effectiveness, their involvement in their child’s education, the quality of their child’s education and their aspirations for their child’s education.  

Remarkably, over ninety percent of the parents polled, were satisfied with their child’s education. That incredibly high percentage is indicative of a major disconnect between parental expectations and the quality or rigor of education students actually receive. Inarguably, some of our local students perform exceptionally well. However, far too many start school behind and never really catch up to their grade level. 

One of the slides presented showed particularly dismal proficiency levels in Mathematics and Reading by 8th grade students in Florida with African-American students at 11% and 14%, respectively.  Regardless of one’s opinion on the FCAT and other high stakes testing, those statistics are just not acceptable. Another slide showed how far behind we are as a nation when ranked with other countries. 

Leading the discussion were Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board Member Raquel A. Regalado; Dr. Lenore Rodicio, Miami Dade College; Modesto E. Abety-Gutierrez, President/CEO, The Children’s Trust; Dr. Pablo Ortiz, Provost, Miami Edison Senior High School; Liz Looney, City Year Miami; Lucie Tondreau, Parent and Haitian Community Advocate; and McNelly Torres, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. 

Several important points were mentioned by each of the panelists. Regalado pointed out that many parents are concerned about paying rent and not about things like the FCAT. Abety-Gutierrez focused on reading readiness when students enter kindergarten. When our students don’t master reading, it not only affects a community, but a nation, as a whole. Abety-Gutierrez said that many young people are not able to enter the military because of a criminal record; inability to pass the written exam; or inability to pass the physical fitness exam. 

The take away from this event was that clearly, parents drive education reform. They should hold education practitioners responsible for giving students a quality education; they should hold school board members accountable for policy that assures students receive a quality education and they should hold elected officials responsible for making sure education is sufficiently funded. Parents  must also become actively engaged in their child’s education and elect people that really are supportive of public education. To assure all of the aforementioned stakeholders are most effective, the media must do a better job of covering and reporting education issues.

In addition to local media, other key individuals present included: Carolyn Nelson-Goedert, President, Miami-Dade County Council PTA/PTSA and the Urban Family Engagement Initiative; Dannie McMillon, Education Committee Chair, Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP; Marleine Bastien, FANM, Haitian Women of Miami and Dr. J. Amada Vargas of Latinos United.

See additional photos on our Facebook page


Related Links: 

New America Media

Bendixen & Amandi International

Miami-Dade College



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