While federal and state leaders propose various types of education reform, local residents say our schools deserve decent grades — but could be teaching more practical skills.

Although 44 percent of the respondents to our most recent 1Q survey said local public and private schools are doing an “average” job of preparing students for careers and civic life, nearly twice as many respondents said the schools were doing a “good” or “great” job as felt they were “poor” or “terrible” in readying graduates for the future.

Still, when asked what skills or subjects local schools should teach more, the 200 respondents to the cellphone-based survey had plenty of suggestions. And their ideas seemed to cover about every position in the educational debate.

Some of the 200 adults in communities served by Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown thought the schools needed to better prepare graduates for jobs.

“I think our schools need to have more focus on skills and subjects that relate to 21st century jobs and skills required for those jobs,” a 46-year-old Sandy Springs woman said. “We fall behind other states and countries when it comes to science and math.”

A 52-year-old Atlanta woman called for “technical skills to fill skilled labor jobs where there is a void of qualified personnel, such as plumbing, welding and electrical training.”

And a 36-year-old Dunwoody woman saw a need for “real-life work experience.”

Other respondents thought the schools should better prepare students for everyday life. A 37-year-old Buckhead woman proposed “more ‘real-life’ education scenarios: finances, investing, budgeting. A lot of kids graduate and don’t know how to balance a checkbook, but know how to do some math problem with only symbols.”

Still others thought the schools should provide classes to make graduates better citizens. A 53-year-old Brookhaven woman saw the need for “journalism, because it would clean up the ghastly writing in America. They should have projects where they are interacting with the Legislature. Students should know the process for getting bills passed. We need a more hands-on approach to civic engagement.”

Not every response was quite so serious, however. One 23-year-old Atlanta woman said that what the schools need to emphasize is simple: “Frisbee.”

Here’s what some others who responded to the survey had to say:

“Life skills, cooking, computer programming.”
36-year-old Brookhaven woman

“While I do believe in the core math, science [and] English, I believe that a broad understanding of history, civics, basic logical skills and other language skills are important. Critical thinking is important to be able to make decisions.”
62-year-old Buckhead man

“Actual life personal expenses and finance. I graduated not knowing what a mortgage was.”
25-year-old man Atlanta

“Why it’s important to vote in local elections and how to make your voice heard at the state and local levels.”
26-year-old Atlanta man

“Just keeping up with the ages. Computers need to be taught much earlier, starting with typing.”
49-year-old Atlanta woman

“More technical and general business transactional skills.”
27-year-old Brookhaven man

“Wood shop, auto [and] construction jobs that need some skills, but not a college degree.”
55-year-old Buckhead man

“Get rid of Common Core. Go back to basics and [an] age-appropriate curriculum. Stop the testing.”
47-year-old Sandy Springs woman

“Chinese.”
48-year-old woman

1Q is an Atlanta-based startup that has developed a technology which sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text message from businesses and organizations across the country. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting REPORTER to 86312.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

2 replies on “Community Survey: Grading our schools”

  1. Living in an area called Sandy Springs, I don’t know of a child in my neighborhood that goes to public school. So, could you share with us the obvious, what percentage of respondents where Private v. Public school?

    A little help for some of the respondents comments. Life Skills, cooking, real work (cut the grass I dare you) is a part of parenting not an obligation to be passed on to others like the nanny, maid, staff or school.

  2. Sandy Springs needs more local community colleges. Growing up in Dekalb County, I had the opportunity to do joint enrollment at Georgia Perimeter while I was in high school because they were within walking distance. This was in addition to my normal AP classes. I only had one class at my high school by my senior year. This allowed me to earn college credit while in high school and provided me with an opportunity to adjust to a college environment. By the time I enrolled into UGA as a freshman I had nearly 20 credit hrs. I’m starting to realize that my children won’t have the same opportunities as I had if I remain in Sandy Springs due to the lack of community college options for high school students.

    Sandy Springs should look into more community colleges that can develop closer relationship with the high schools to better prepare our children for the next step in their lives.

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