Boise State survey: Idahoans support all-day kindergarten, overwhelmingly

The numbers are in, and when it comes to all-day kindergarten, it isn’t even close.

A two-thirds majority of Idahoans support state-funded all-day kindergarten, according to Boise State University’s annual Idaho Public Policy Survey.

Overall, 68% of respondents said they favor the idea. Meanwhile, 26% of respondents said they oppose all-day kinder; the remaining 6% of respondents were undecided or refused to answer.

The support also transcended party lines and demographics:

  • While a whopping 89% percent of Democrats voiced support for all-day kindergarten, 69% of independents and 61% of Republicans said they supported the idea as well.
  • Idahoans supported all-day kinder at an identical 68%, whether they have children or grandchildren in Idaho schools or not.

The release of the statewide survey comes as the Legislature is poised to take up all-day kindergarten this session. Gov. Brad Little has proposed putting an additional $47 million into early literacy — funding that schools could use to cover the added cost of a full day of kindergarten. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra has proposed a $39 million plan, designed to make all-day kindergarten available to at-risk students.

The Boise State survey also asked Idahoans some perennial questions about education.

Quality of Idaho education. All told, 34% of Idahoans rate the state’s education system as “good” or “excellent,” down a percentage point from the previous year. Meanwhile, 33% rate Idaho schools as “fair,” and 26% gave schools a grade of “poor.”

Quality of local schools. As in previous years, Idahoans give higher marks to their neighborhood schools. Nearly 45% of respondents said their local schools are “good” or “excellent,” also down a percentage point from the previous year. Meanwhile, 30% said their local schools are “fair,” and 17% graded local schools as “poor.”

Importance of education. When asked to rank issues based on importance, education once again emerges as Idaho’s top priority. There is a slight partisan shift; Democrats and independents list education as their top priority, while Republicans rated jobs and the economy as their top priority.

Boise State surveyed Idahoans on a range of topics, from the COVID-19 pandemic and growth to taxes and the state’s projected $1.9 billion surplus.

This year, 46% of Idahoans said the state is headed in the right direction, while 41% said the state is headed in the wrong direction. That margin is narrowing rapidly. In 2019, this gap was 30 percentage points, with a huge majority saying they supported the state’s overall direction.

“There is an increasing concern about growth and its many impacts, from housing to property taxes,” said Matthew May, the report’s co-author and survey research director for the School of Public Service.

Boise State surveyed 1,000 Idahoans in November, receiving cell phone, landline, text and online responses. The survey has a margin of error of about 3%.

Hear more about it: Kevin Richert interviews Boise State researcher Matthew May on this week’s edition of Kevin’s podcast. Look for it on Friday.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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