Poll Shows Georgians Favor Local Control of Schools, Fewer Tests

In this Nov. 20, 2014 photo, eight grader Aklya Thomas and teacher Faren Fransworth use a digital textbook to during a math class at Burney Harris Lyons Middle School in Athens Ga. Georgia schools will use only digital textbooks within the next six years under a proposal one state lawmaker has planned for the 2015 session. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press
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A new poll from Phi Delta Kappa International shows when it comes to public schools, Georgians favor local control and fewer standardized tests.

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According to the survey, 57 percent of Georgians prefer local control, compared to 48% percent of respondents nationally.

“Certainly when it comes to failing schools, folks are much more likely to want the determination of consequence – or anything like that – to happen at a more local level,” says Joshua Starr, CEO of PDK International. “Georgia, even more so than the rest of the country, follows that pattern.”

In addition, the poll shows 62 percent of Georgians want schools to offer more career education classes. That compares 51 percent of all respondents.

“We’ve been so focused on English/language arts and mathematics as measured by state standardized tests as the only indicator of quality and the only thing that matters,” Starr says. “What our results are showing is that parents want more.”

Another finding: Georgians favor using public funds to send students to private schools, often known as private school voucher programs.

“I think that’s one of the areas where we’ve got to do some more work, because if parents are more interested in seeking education opportunities for their children outside of public schools, it means there’s some level of dissatisfaction with the schools,” says Craig Harper, a spokesperson for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. “Not in every case, but in some cases. So we really have to do a good job of letting communities know the value of a public education and the quality that’s available for their student.”

The poll also shows Georgians value racial and economic diversity in schools, and extra support services for students in poverty.