FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 23, 2022
Republican voters across Idaho overwhelmingly believe public education is a public good and support increased and broad investment in students, educators and public schools by the State of Idaho, according to an early summer poll conducted by Idaho Education Association members.
The April 30-May 4 phone poll (see results below) asked 700 self-identified Idaho Republicans who are likely to vote in November’s general election a variety of questions about public education. The results show very strong supermajorities of voters in Idaho’s dominant political party believe public schools and the state’s educators play a central role in our democratic society and should be invested in by policymakers.
News of the Idaho Legislature’s special session on September 1, called by Gov. Brad Little because of an estimated $2 billion budget surplus, prompted IEA members to release the polling data to help inform lawmakers’ deliberation around Gov. Little’s proposal to boost ongoing education funding by a record $330 million. Chronic under-investment in public education and an increasingly toxic political environment around education issues led record numbers of educators to leave their beloved profession in recent years.
“Despite decades of effort by the enemies of public education on the political fringe to undermine support for and confidence in public schools and educators, these astonishing poll numbers show something quite different,” said Matt Compton, IEA’s associate executive director. “It’s clear the voter base of the Idaho Republican Party still believes in the importance of every student having access to a free, high-quality public school education and the essential role Idaho’s educators play in making that a reality.”
Conducted by American Viewpoint, a highly respected conservative polling firm, the poll has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent. A summary of their findings can be found below.
The following outlines the key findings from a survey commissioned by Idaho Education Association members of n=700 likely General Election Republican voters with oversamples to reach n=250 likely General Election Republican voters in both the East and North regions. Interviews were conducted April 30th-May 4th, 2022, and the margin of error is +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level. Approximately 58% of interviews were conducted with a cell phone sample of those who couldn’t be reached on a landline.
Respondents were read a series of statements relating to education and were asked to say if they agree or disagree. Below are the percentages that said they strongly or somewhat agree with the statement:
- 89% — Schools are a central part of my community
- 86% — Every student in Idaho has a fundamental right to a free and equitable public education
- 86% — At public schools, experiences like school sports, art and music classes, and physical education help ensure our children grow up to be talented, well-rounded American citizens.
- 85% — Educational support staff, like custodians and teacher aides, should be paid a livable wage that provides their families with a decent standard of living
- 81% — Public education is a symbol of democracy and a strong nation
- 75% — Idaho teachers are underpaid, need better benefits, and deserve more respect
- 74% — The state of Idaho should bolster its investment in school facilities and maintenance so local taxpayers are not burdened with higher property taxes
- 68% — Some districts are unable to pass supplemental levies to help fund their public schools, creating an unequal educational playing field between districts that can pass levies and those that cannot.
- 65% — Schools are a place where students learn to be the best Americans possible
Respondents were also asked about the importance of resource prioritization in public schools in different areas. Below are the percentages that said dedicating school resources in these areas are very important or somewhat important:
- 95% — Ensuring teachers are properly trained and certified
- 95% — Ensuring schools provide technical and vocational education
- 92% — Treating every student with respect and dignity (half-sample)
- 91% — Establishing literacy programs for young children
- 89% — Creating incentives for teachers to work in rural areas
- 89% — Ensuring students have access to certified, high-quality school counselors and mental health professionals
- 88% — Treating every student with respect and dignity regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation (half-sample)
- 85% — Increasing teacher pay to retain teachers