(The Center Square) – A lot of parents think their kids are continuing to learn, even though they are not in school. 

A new survey from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty shows 80 percent of parents are satisfied with their children’s distance learning.

“Parents are overall pretty satisfied with how districts and schools are performing, but there are some issues under the surface that are worthwhile to address as well,” WILL Research Director Will Flanders said. 

Most notably, some schools aren’t assigning much work. 

Flanders said the survey shows most parents said they are spending 11 hours to 20 hours a week on distance learning. But the second most popular answer was one hour to 10 hours. 

“When you think about how many hours a student spends during an actual school week on work, one to 10 is significantly less,” Flanders said. “And we have about 2 percent say their kids are spending no time on school.”

Flanders said some of the Milwaukee Public School parents who took the survey said they are not receiving any work from the school. 

MPS was slow to start its distance learning program. Schools didn’t start online classes until mid-April, nearly a month after Gov. Tony Evers closed schools in the state. 

Flanders said parents are not just spending time on their children’s education, they are spending money. 

The WILL survey shows 30 percent of families say they have spent at least $50 on distance learning. Of those families, nearly 10 percent say they’ve had to spend more than $500. The numbers are highest among lower-income families.

Flanders says it is not going unnoticed that public schools in Wisconsin are continuing to collect massive sums of money, even though students are learning at home.

“Some of the funding that is going to schools ought to be diverted to families for the education and supplemental materials that they are needing for their kids. You know, and education savings account,” Flanders said.

WILL and other education reformers have pressed for ESAs for years. Flanders said now may be the right time to press again. 

“Ideally we’d like to see it be a permanent education savings account program. But even a short-term emergency ESA, I think there is a really good argument for that,” Flanders added. “When we see that a lot of families are having to spend money, whether it’s buying computers, buying tablets, buying supplemental programs or tutoring, there are a host of things that families are bearing expenses for while districts are still collecting all of the per-pupil funding for their kids. But they are no longer educating to the extent they were before.”

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.