Public schools improving, parents say in survey

January 20, 2012 5:45 AM

Alicia Duplessis Jasmin

Parent perception of K–12 public schools in New Orleans is growing more positive, according to an annual opinion poll conducted by the Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives. The survey was conducted by telephone in October and November, 2011, using a random sample of 349 public school parents.

Charter Schools

Pupils are engaged in studies at Benjamin E. Mays Preparatory School, one of the New Orleans charter public schools. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Compared to the Cowen Institute’s 2009 poll of public school parents where only 31 percent believed schools had improved since Hurricane Katrina, the institute’s most recent survey, “K–12 Public Education Through the Public Eye: Parents’ Perceptions of School Choice,” revealed that the percentage of parents with positive perceptions had increased to 66 percent.

“So often we hear the opinions of a handful of outspoken people, but the survey allows us to get a sense of the perceptions of a random sample of the population,” says Debra Vaughan, assistant director of research at the Cowen Institute. “The survey captures the voice of parents and through their voice, we attempt to hold the leaders and policymakers of public schools accountable. It’s a vehicle for critical discussions about how to improve.”

Policymakers, stakeholders and the general public all benefit from the survey data produced by the Cowen Institute, says Vaughan.

In addition to questions about recovery progress, other notable findings include:  

  • The majority of parents surveyed in 2011 (90 percent) strongly agreed that it is important to be able to choose their child’s school, up from 81 percent in 2009.

  • 86 percent of parents surveyed in 2011 agreed that information on school options is readily available, up from 62 percent in 2009.

  • Nearly all parents said they value a school’s academic performance, faculty and staff, and safety and discipline when choosing their child’s school.

  • The factors influencing school selection varied between low-income families and higher income families. Low-income parents placed relatively more importance on the school’s proximity to home, the availability of transportation and after-school care or extended-day programs, and the recommendations of friends and family.

Visit the Cowen Institute website for complete survey results.


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