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Survey Finds Satisfaction With Local Communities

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County residents are generally satisfied with their communities as healthy places to live, despite looming concerns about crime, public education and health care for children, according to a survey to be released Monday.

Conducted by the Field Research Corp., the survey shows that of the 803 people interviewed, 43% reported being “somewhat satisfied” with conditions in their community, and 39% “very satisfied.” The figures dropped when the respondents were asked about their community as a healthy place for children to grow up, with 39% somewhat satisfied and 29% very satisfied.

Many of the concerns raised by respondents involved public schools.

More than two-thirds said they were worried that children were receiving inadequate education and preparation for the future. About an equal number said they were worried about children bringing weapons to school. And about the same percentage agreed that schools should “play a larger role in providing basic health services such as regular check-ups and immunizations.”

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Those findings were consistent with attitudes on education in a similar poll conducted statewide last year by The Times, said Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus. In that survey, more than two-thirds of the 2,804 respondents said California schools provided inadequate education. And people in Los Angeles County were no different, she said.

Allan Parachini, vice president of the California Community Foundation, which commissioned the Field study, said, “Los Angeles County residents continue to see that the main problems kids have to face is the quality of schools, teachers and health care.”

Founded in 1915, the foundation is the city’s oldest charity, offering grants to groups involved with such concerns as education, housing, health care and the arts. The survey was commissioned for $35,000 to “help direct and focus our grant activities,” said Parachini, and to draw attention to services in the county that need the most assistance.

Data collection survey was based on telephone interviews with a random sample of adults. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Not everyone had problems with public schools.

Forty-eight percent rated them as excellent or good, while 45% termed them fair or poor. And 63% said the 180-day school year was just about right.

About a fifth of respondents with children said they have no health insurance.

The survey “identifies a number of extremely serious problems, such as health care access. And one in six adults knows an [elementary school] child who is home alone” without adult supervision after school, Parachini said.

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When asked how they felt about their communities, 73% of the respondents said they were concerned about crime and law enforcement, while 69% said they were concerned about access to and the cost of health care.

Bilingual education, race relations and parks and recreation space were among those issues ranked lowest in importance, at 47%, 50% and 46%, respectively. Fifty-six percent said they believed that the entertainment industry, including television, movies and music, had a negative influence on young people’s attitudes.

Fifty-five percent of the respondents agree that contraceptives should be more readily available to teenagers, while 40% say that sex education programs in the schools should be limited to discussions of abstinence.


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