Education reform: 70% of teens want history textbooks rewritten to include recent political, social justice issues

NEW YORK — The stereotypical depiction of the quintessential American teenager is that of an adolescent primarily concerned with parties, friends, and music. According to a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. parents and their high-school aged kids, that just doesn’t hold true anymore. Modern teens are much more socially conscious than earlier generations.

The poll finds about 70 percent of teens believe current history books should be revised to reflect the most recent events shaping America. That’s especially due to all of the civil and racial unrest the nation has faced in 2020. On a related note, over half the parents think schools should allot students a single day off to engage in some type of civic activity like attending a political rally or marching for a cause.

The poll, commissioned by Connections Academy and Pearson, asked respondents about how they see schools changing in the future due to this tumultuous year. Twenty-nine percent of high school respondents say the events of 2020 have caused them to reassess what they want to do with their lives. Similarly, 30 percent want to get involved in politics.

Changing the lesson plan for teens

When high schoolers were asked what issues are closest to their hearts, racism (43%) was the top response. After that, education (30%) came in second, followed by climate change (30%), gun control (23%), and jobs or the economy (22%). Other popular answers include voting rights (19%), healthcare (18%), gender equality (18%), LGBTQIA equality (11%), immigration (14%), and social inequality (14%).

In all, three in four high schoolers think classes focusing on political and social justice issues should be a regular part of high school curriculums. Regarding the impact of COVID-19 specifically, 56 percent say the future of learning will be a mix of in-person attendance and online learning. Another 74 percent of parents shared the same sentiment about online learning. Nearly half the parents don’t want their kids going back into schools until there’s a coronavirus vaccine.

In fact, over 50 percent of parents are planning on keeping their kids enrolled in online learning courses well after the pandemic is over. That may have something to do with 81 percent of parents saying their child has excelled at online learning. Regarding the students themselves, nearly four in 10 say they’ve done well with online learning, while 16 percent have struggled with the transition.

In-class learning a thing of the past?

Students studying remotely say they most enjoy the freedom to work wherever they want (53%). Kids also like being able to work at their own pace (50%), working during non-traditional times (41%), and the safety of learning at home (34%).

There are, of course, certain aspects of physical school it’s much harder to put a positive spin on. Four in 10 students are disappointed they missed out on their prom because of COVID-19. A quarter of the poll even wish they had been able to take the SAT or ACT exams.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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