Public schools in Los Angeles are in desperate need of major changes, but innovative programs already in place have the potential to help bring about the necessary reforms, according to a survey of education leaders conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).

“The promising part of this study is that the leaders in Los Angeles’ community of educators believe that the problems facing public schools are not insurmountable, and that some of the needed changes are already under way,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the Leavey Center. “While these results are still preliminary, they offer us a glimpse into the areas that educators agree on, and what is still up for debate.”

The survey found that experts in the education field in Los Angeles see programs such as LAUSD Pilot Schools and public-private partnerships as likely pathways for improving the quality of K-12 education, which they currently give low marks locally and statewide.

Researchers at the Leavey Center sent the survey in February to educational leaders throughout Los Angeles County, as well as to elected officials, advocates from nonprofit groups, researchers at local universities and think tanks, teachers’ union officials and others identified as leaders in the educational community.

Among the findings are:

Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) believe charter-like pilot schools are a “somewhat effective” or “very effective” approach to education reform;

A vast majority (86 percent) support expanding public-private partnerships for entrepreneurial, financial, and business education in LAUSD schools; and

On the quality of California’s K-12 public schools, 12 percent said “good,” 52 percent said “fair” and 36 percent said “poor.” Asked the same question about LAUSD schools, six percent said “good,” 25 percent said “fair” and 69 percent said “poor.”

The respondents were nearly unanimous in seeking more money for schools and better use of it. Ninety-two percent agreed that better use of existing funds would improve education in California, and 90 percent said boosting quality could be achieved by increasing state funding, the survey found.

The study was funded by a grant from Bank of America to support the education portion of the Leavey Center’s Leadership Initiative — the first in a multi-year study to survey 100 leaders in each of ten sectors: education, health, arts and culture, media and entertainment, politics, business, community, land use and housing, law, and religion and spirituality, LMU officials said.