Poll: Parents like their kids’ schools but not direction of NOLA and public education overall

A new poll from the Cowen Institute at Tulane University indicates growing dissatisfaction with the direction of New Orleans leadership and the city’s public education system, especially among Black respondents and those from lower-income households.

The annual poll surveyed 1,000 parents and guardians of schoolchildren in Orleans Parish in October 2023. Negative perceptions regarding the city and public education were higher than at any point in the past five years.

“There’s an interesting divide in the results,” said Vincent Rossmeier, Cowen Institute policy director. “While more respondents indicated that public education overall is getting worse and gave schools lower letter grades than in previous polls, parents and guardians of public school students were far more positive about the schools their children actually attend than the system overall.”

Key findings from the poll include:

•     More than half the respondents (52%) are dissatisfied with the direction of New Orleans, and nearly half (46%) gave a D or F letter grade rating on the overall quality of public education.
•     A plurality of respondents (38%) named crime the city's top concern. Poverty and education were the two other highest concerns named by respondents.
•     Black respondents were more likely to have negative views of public education, with a majority (56%) giving schools a D or F, compared to 47% of White respondents and just 8% of Hispanic respondents.
•     Notably, wealthier respondents were far less likely to say public education was getting worse compared to lower-income parents. Just 7% of wealthier respondents said schools were getting worse, compared to 51% of those from middle-income households, and 55% of those from lower-income households.

“As in our previous polling, we see trends in responses indicating that there are serious differences between the way families from different socioeconomic backgrounds experience the city’s public education system,” Rossmeier said.

The Cowen Institute conducts the annual education survey to track perspectives on New Orleans’ decentralized public education system.

The results are the first of two briefs coming from the Cowen Institute this year. Other results from the poll, including views on the enrollment system and career and technical education, will be released in February.