More than 80 percent of parents are satisfied with their children's public schools, but if they had the money, more than half would send their children to private schools, a poll shows.

The survey, commissioned by Children magazine, shows that 41 percent of parents said they were very satisfied with their child's public school, and another 40 percent said they were somewhat satisfied.But if money were no object, 51 percent would choose to send their child to a private or parochial school, according to the survey.

The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points, drew from a sample of 305 parents with children in public schools.

The poll is included in a report in the magazine's October issue, "Report Card on Public Education."

Jeff Meade, a senior editor of the magazine, writes that many education experts play down the popular solutions to solving the country's education problems, such as tougher graduation requirements, more homework and teacher competency tests, in favor of more parent involvement and more creative school management.

The current education system is inadequate, Meade writes, and that inadequacy goes beyond sagging grades in the basics.

Absenteeism, violence, drug use and social isolation are now a large part of the public school student's environment, Meade writes. The typical high school student winds up cutting 10 classes a year, and one out of four drops out, he writes.

More and more students have both parents working outside the home, Meade writes, but schools are not adapting to the shifting family structure.

For a community to battle these problems, Meade says the atmosphere of its school has to improve: Parents have to become more involved, ask more questions and take part in curriculum planning; principals have to be more interested in education than in management; and teachers should have more say in their own educational programs.