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Discipline Is Top School Concern of Maryland Citizens

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Maryland residents say discipline is the biggest problem facing their public schools, according to a recent media poll.

The News American--WBAL-tv survey also found that Maryland residents rank education the third most important problem facing the nation, behind the economy and crime.

"That's a marked increase from what we've seen in years past," said Keith Haller, president of Potomac Survey Research Inc. of Bethesda, which conducted the survey of 989 Maryland residents in mid-April. "Clearly, education has become a major concern."

Maryland, Mr. Haller said, tends to be a "demographic microcosm of the nation" because of its rural, suburban, and urban communities. "A lot of times, the way Maryland goes, you might see a trend nationwide as well," he said.

In the poll of Maryland residents, 24 percent of the respondents said discipline was the biggest problem in their community schools, while 16 percent said it was the quality of teachers and 15 percent said it was the lack of funding.

The survey also found that:

Only 25 percent of the respondents said they thought the overall quality of education at public schools was improving, as opposed to 38 percent who said they thought it was declining.

More than two-thirds of the respondents said they thought teaching would improve if teachers were required to pass competency tests.

Ten percent of the respondents said drug abuse was the biggest problem in the public schools, while 5 percent cited parental apathy and 4 percent cited student apathy. Curriculum was the top concern in a similar survey last year, but this year, only 9 percent of those surveyed gave it that rating.--lck

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