Prince Edward Citizens Have Positive Opinion of Schools with Some Notable Exceptions

   Written by on October 31, 2013 at 3:57 pm

During a September 26, 2012 meeting between Prince Edward County Supervisors and P.E. School Board Members, there was discussion about both the quality of Prince Edward Schools and the perception of the quality of the schools. Supervisors’ Chairman William Fore suggested that a professional agency be hired to develop an in-depth community survey of attitudes about the schools. The School Board decided in January, 2013 to develop a survey on the opinion of local citizens toward the schools. The firm of National Research Center, Inc. from Colorado was hired to construct and carry out the survey and to interpret the results. In May of 2013, 3000 Prince Edward households were randomly selected to receive the survey. Of those, 579, or about 21%, responded to the survey. This is a reasonable rate of response. Dr. Thomas Miller, President of National Research Center, presented the results to Supervisors and School Board Members at an October 23, 2013 meeting. Here are some of the results: Only 6% of the survey respondents who answered thought the quality of P.E. County Schools was excellent, but 37% think the quality was at least good. Forty-one percent thought the quality of Prince Edward County Schools is fair, while between 21 and 22 percent think the overall quality is poor. Even though less than 22% thought the quality was poor, 46% thought the schools had a poor reputation. About 26% of the respondents have at least one student in the schools, and those respondents have a more positive opinion of the schools than citizens who do not have a child in the schools. Over half the respondents thought the schools do an excellent or good job of keeping students safe from outside threats. However, only one-third of respondents think the schools do an excellent or good job of keeping students safe from other students. More than three-quarters of respondents believe that a student’s ability and his/her behavior in school affect some or quite a lot how students are treated in the Schools. Although about 20% of the respondents did not answer the question about race, nearly 74% of the respondents who did answer think that the student’s race has at least a little effect on how the student is treated. Of those who had an opinion, not as many respondents answered “Quite a lot” to the question about how much do you feel you can trust the School Board to do the right thing as answered “Almost Not at all.” Nearly 21% of respondents answered “Almost not at all” to the question about how much do you feel you can trust the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing. There were significant (statistically significant) differences between White and Black (African American) respondents’ attitudes on many of the questions. For example, more than twice as many Black respondents as White respondents think the schools are good or excellent. Nearly twice as many Black respondents as White respondents thought that the safety of students from other students was good or excellent. More than three times as many Black respondents as White respondents thought the reputation of the schools was good or excellent. There were less than ten citizens at the October 23 meeting when the survey results were presented. Three of these citizens asked questions or made comments. One citizen said that in spite of recent changes in the schools, there is still a problem. Students are not learning as much as they should. It does not really matter what other counties are doing. A former teacher in Prince Edward said that there should have been questions on the survey on the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests and on lack of parental involvement. Another citizen agreed with the need for more citizen involvement. When asked about the quality of the P.E. Schools, Dr. Miller of National Research Center said that this survey did not provide that information. William Fore, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said that the ball is now in the court of the School Board.

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