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Survey finds parental support lacking, but generally good marks for teachers

By Staff
SIGNING UP Terie Fletcher, right, registers her third-grade son and fifth-grade daughter with school secretary Jill Gavin at Poplar Springs Elementary School. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
July 230, 2001
Meridian and Lauderdale County residents believe their public school administrators and teachers do a credible job, but parental support and involvement need improvement, according to a recent public opinion survey.
Dr. Habib Bazyari, chairman of Mississippi State University-Meridian's division of business and industry and supervisor of the poll, said Lauderdale County residents were especially pleased with their public schools.
Bazyari presented the findings of the survey to both the county and city school boards last week. He supervised the poll for the Leadership Lauderdale Education Committee, which wanted to research residents' concerns on educational issues.
Gauging opinion
A total of 420 people were polled by phone from Feb. 5 to 8 and from Feb. 26 to March 2.
Participants were picked at random from the phone book and asked to rank their school district in various areas on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best and 1 being poor. Respondents were classified by age, sex, race and whether they have children in school.
Bazyari said that the most disturbing result in the survey was the response to the question, "How would you rate parental support for a quality school system?" He aid that "parental support is definitively lacking for the education of our children."
New program
Bazyari recommended both school districts implement "after hours programs" for students to enhance their education and after hours time for parents to give them a more convenient time to interact with the schools. He also suggested the districts make the progress of students accessible to parents on the Internet.
Lauderdale County School Superintendent David Little said rural and city schools can't be compared in terms of the kind of "after hours programs" Bazyari suggested because some students live 20 miles away from their county school.
Overall, Little said, he believed the school district received favorable ratings in the survey. But, he said, he was disappointed in how the county fared when residents were asked about education funding; those polled indicated the funding for both districts is inadequate and that the county's was worse than the city.
Education support
Glenn Pogue, chairman of the Leadership Lauderdale Education Committee, said the panel's charge is to promote education.
Pogue said the committee spoke with both the city and county superintendents as well as several groups affiliated with education, including the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation's education committee, the Phil Hardin Foundation and the Riley Foundation.
Respondents were asked to answer 23 questions, including background information in the survey, which was conducted by committee members and other volunteers.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.

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