BSU survey: Idahoans concerned about K-12 system

Idahoans are generally happy about the direction their state is taking.

But when it comes to education — identified, overwhelmingly, as Idaho’s top priority — Idahoans aren’t quite as satisfied.

Those disconnected takeaways come from a statewide Public Policy Survey unveiled Monday by Boise State University.

According to the statewide survey of 1,000 Idaho adults:

  • Only 28 percent of Idahoans rated Idaho’s K-12 system as excellent or good. Thirty-seven percent rated schools as fair and 33 percent rated schools as poor.
  • About 51 percent of Idahoans said the state’s schools are below average, when compared to other states. About 11 percent of respondents said Idaho schools are above average, and 31 percent said the schools are about average.
  • Idahoans also are concerned about whether Idaho’s K-12 system is preparing graduates for college. About 23 percent of respondents said the schools are doing a good or excellent job at college preparation. Thirty-eight percent of Idahoans said the schools are doing a fair job at college preparation; 35 percent rated college preparation as poor.
  • Idahoans were split on the question of school funding. Forty-nine percent of respondents said the K-12 system needs more money; 44 percent said the school system is adequately funded, but instead must undergo “major reforms.” These responses fell within the survey’s 3 percent margin of error.

“Those education numbers are pretty stark,” said Corey Cook, dean of BSU’s School of Public Service.

The education numbers stand in contrast to other survey results.

While Idahoans said education and education funding is the most important issue facing the state, more than two-thirds of Idahoans said the state’s tax rates are about right. Just under 10 percent of Idahoans said taxes are too low.

Meanwhile, 57 percent of Idahoans said the state is headed in the right direction.

The telephone survey was conducted from Jan. 11 to 15, the first week of the 2016 legislative session.

BSU conducted similar public policy surveys from 1990 to 2011, and the university now hopes to resume annual surveys.

“We’re happy to be doing this again,” said Greg Hill, chairman of BSU’s Department of Public Policy and Administration.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News employees are Boise State University employees. Kevin Richert is a master’s student in BSU’s Department of Public Policy and Administration.