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California public schools fare poorly in new poll

November 18, 2011 |  9:26 pm

California’s public schools earned a grade of C or below by voters in a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

A majority said schools were in bad shape, and about half said they were getting worse. The causes include funding shortages, wasteful spending on administration and bureaucratic barriers to innovation, respondents said.

About half supported the right of parents to demand, by majority vote, sweeping changes at low-performing schools. These could include reorganizing staff and curriculum, converting to charter schools or closing campuses altogether. Last year, California became the first state in the nation to extend that right through what is known as the Parent Trigger law.

But voters were upbeat about their local schools — far more than about those statewide. Sixty-four percent said their neighborhood campuses were doing a good or excellent job of preparing their children or grandchildren for college.

The survey was conducted for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm, and American Viewpoint, a Republican company. They questioned 1,500 registered California voters from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.52 percentage points.

Look for more findings at www.latimes.com.

-- Teresa Watanabe