Only 12% of Idahoans Polled Would Choose a Public School for Their Children

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice just released a poll of 1,000 likely voters in Idaho. If they “could select any type of school,” a whopping 12% would choose a “regular public school,” little more than half the number who would choose homeschooling (21%). Private schools were most popular, at 39%, followed by charter schools (25%).

According to the Friedman Foundation, only 4% of those polled ages 36-55“”an age group likely to have K-through-12-aged children””responded that they would choose a public school. (67% of all poll participants were indeed parents or guardians of school-aged children.)

Additionally, 47% of those polled rated Idaho’s public school system as “poor” or “fair.” 21% more were “undecided.”

59% named either “academic quality” or “school curriculum” as the reason for their school preference. Clearly, our neighbors to the east aren’t satisfied with the “education” in “public education.” The vast majority of Idahoans would rather choose other options before public schools.

The question for us is, would Oregonians answer differently if given the opportunity?


Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director, Development Coordinator, and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s premier free market think tank.

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Posted by at 03:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 11 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • eagle eye

    Hmmm, I suppose we can expect Idaho to be adopting a voucher system in short order?

    Oh, this poll is from the Friedman Foundation. Sort of like when the Oregon Natural Resources Council does a poll on the environment?

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Who knows how accurate this poll is. In the end though what counts is how people vote with their feet.

    When private schools offer scholarships, do they have trouble filling the slots? Or does it tend to be that there are many more applicants than scholarships available?

    When voucher programs are initiated, do parents tend to keep their kids in the public schools and ignore them? Or do parents tend to line up for the vouchers?

    Are the clear answers to these questions an indication people are satisfied with what they are getting for their money with public school education?

    At an average of $10,000 a year per K-12 student in Oregon, is there a single person out there who thinks they are getting their moneys worth?

    • Maude

      A single person? In Oregon? Who thinks they are getting their moneys worth?

      Nope. There are two!!

      And they are right here on the Oregon Catalyst blog.

      eagle eye and dean

    • eagle eye

      Rupert, back in 1990, we had a referendum on vouchers, it got creamed 2-1. That tells me more than any poll. Is anyone planning another voucher referendum in Oregon? I wonder why not.

      Maude, you put words in my mouth. But if you circulated more in the real world of Oregon, you would know that plenty of people think they’re getting their money’s worth.

      P.S. I voted for vouchers in 1990. But the voice of the voters came through loud and clear.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Rupert, back in 1990, we had a referendum on vouchers, it got creamed 2-1. That tells me more than any poll.

        Oh I quite agree, that’s why I initiated my comment with skepticism about polls.

        >Is anyone planning another voucher referendum in Oregon? I wonder why not.

        Probably because it takes a hell of a lot of money to mount an initiative campaign. Given the coffers of the OEA, one would be up against quite a lot.

        Look, its a very simple proposition. If vouchers were offered, people would abandon the public schools in droves. How do we know this? For the reasons I stated in my previous post. We also know this based upon your very point. The initiative was defeated with quite a bit of help from the OEA. They fear vouchers, and justly so for if they do not fear them, then they would not have fought the initiative with such tenacity. Are we to believe the OEA are fools, who fought a voucher program that no one would sign up for? I think not.

  • Kathryn Hickok

    I would encourage everyone to go to the Friedman site linked above and read the 2-page executive summary. The Friedman report details their research methods and provides percentage breakdowns for each question and information about the demographics of the participants. The poll has 33 questions, providing more in-depth detail than I could post here. The full report may answer many of your questions.

    Here is an excerpt from the executive summary:

    “This scientifically representative poll of 1,000 likely Idaho voters measures public opinion on K-12 education issues. It particularly examines the public’s views and attitudes about school choice in the form of tax-credit scholarships, school vouchers and charter schools. The poll confirms that Idaho citizens clearly like the idea of freely choosing their schools.

    “There is demand for expanding school choice in Idaho. According to the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies at Boise State University, approximately 6,900 students are on charter school waiting lists this school year. To seat those children, existing charter schools would have to expand their total capacity overnight by nearly 70 percent, or new charter schools would have to be authorized. The Center for Education Reform reports that there are currently 30 charter schools serving almost 10,000 students in Idaho—about 4 percent of the overall public school population.

    “Existing school waiting lists reinforce the general findings learned from this poll.

    “Idahoans would like to see transformation in their K-12 universe, so they can freely access a range of school options spanning regular public schools, private schools, charter schools, homeschooling and virtual schools. This poll’s respondents, particularly 36-55 year-olds, seem very open to exploring a school choice system utilizing tax-credit scholarships.

    “Conducted January 18-20, 2008, by Strategic Vision, the poll has a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points….

    “This survey provides a statistically valid representation of the views of likely Idaho voters.”

    • eagle eye

      Maybe they’re that hot for it but then I suggest the Idahoans do an initiative or legislative act on vouchers. It’s been tried twice in California, tried in Oregon, tried and failed even in Utah!

      maybe Idaho is different and you know something. I would like to see some action. But I’m not holding my breath too long.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        I suggest the teachers unions simply not fight voucher programs. If no one wants them, no one will sign up. It wont cost anything either way so what’s the problem? Why do teachers unions fight tooth and nail against something they say the public has no interest in anyway?

        What if they gave a voucher program and no one showed up?

        • eagle eye

          Rupert, I suggest you contact the teachers’ union with your idea, I’ll bet they’ll love it.

          Anyhow, if the public really wanted vouchers, there is nothing the teachers’ union could do to stop them.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Anyhow, if the public really wanted vouchers, there is nothing the teachers’ union could do to stop them.

            Well, I suppose there really isn’t a lot that the teachers union could do, I mean except spend a small fortune to defeat initiatives when they come up. Curious behaviour, to spend so much to defeat something the OEA insists public doesn’t want and wouldn’t sign up for.

            The legislature enacting vouchers on their own? Hmmm, the last time the legislature went against the will of one of the most powerful unions in the state was when? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

            Vouchers aren’t a cure all, but lets face it, if the public was as confident of the schools as the unions say, then the OEA would have nothing to fear from vouchers. The unions opposition to them tells us more than any poll ever will. It is the constraints of current law that bind people to the public schools. Taking that as an endorsement of them is pure folly.

          • eagle eye

            You can whine about the unions all you want — about how unfair life is — but if the anti-schools crowd really wants vouchers, they can get them on the ballot and promote them. Or elect a new legislature. A 2-1 margin can’t be bought.

            If the voucher people can’t handle the union campaign after all these years, they’re hardly ready to take over education.

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