We Idahoans find plenty of important topics to discuss, debate, and to disagree about, from current events and politics, to social issues, to policies and laws. But recent poll results show that there is one topic on which Idahoans strongly agree: they support their local community schools and the people who operate them.
Why is it important to know what our fellow Idahoans think about Idaho education? It’s important because public schools—the lifeblood of so many Idaho communities—are enshrined in our state Constitution. Our public officials are required by the Constitution to fund a “general, uniform, and thorough” public education system. Two statewide polls conducted in the last several months shine a light on how Idaho’s citizens view the schools that result from this clear and indisputable mandate.
These polls, commissioned by RISE and carried out by GS Strategy Group, were conducted July 12-14 and November 28 to December 1, 2021. Each poll surveyed 500 registered voters from all over Idaho, with a margin of error of +/- 4.38%. (risetvep.org/our-impact)
Idahoans send a strong message in these poll results: Idaho should focus on improving funding for public education and should ensure that all Idaho classrooms have access to the resources necessary for students to be successful. Further, they believe in the teachers that serve their students. Eighty-two percent of those polled in July view teachers as “trustworthy and focused on supporting student success.”
A large majority (70%) believe that public schools teach Idaho students to become contributing citizens and teach the importance of treating others fairly. Seventy-eight percent of the July survey respondents indicated that they thought it was important for students to “engage in open dialogue and consider differing viewpoints.”
According to the most recent survey, Idaho parents want to play a role in how their students are taught (89%), but they also want teachers (86%) and local school boards (84%) to play a role. They are less supportive of the legislature (44%) or special interest groups like the Idaho Freedom Foundation (22%) in determining what happens in public school classrooms.
According to the survey results, 2/3’s of Idahoans are opposed to school vouchers, in part because they negatively impact rural districts. In fact, over 70% of Idahoans feel that legislators should focus on funding education, versus investigating or promoting vouchers.
What Idahoans do care very much about is being involved in their children’s education and future, and they want their schools to provide needed resources to help their children make educational and career decisions. They want schools to help students develop the skills and knowledge necessary for them to build successful careers and lives. In short, Idahoans want the best for their kids and they want public education to help them get there.
These poll results are interesting and enlightening—but they are not surprising to anyone who has been involved in Idaho education. Idahoans show their support for schools again and again—by volunteering, by purchasing cookie dough and candy bars, by showing up at athletic events and band concerts, by passing local levies, and in many other ways. It’s time for all of Idaho to join together and follow their lead.
Poll conducted by GS Strategy Group.