A supermajority of Idahoans wants the state to put money into pre-kindergarten programs, according to new statewide polling data. Seventy-six percent of voters and 80 percent of parents of children 5 and younger support state funding for pre-K, according to the poll unveiled Wednesday by the Association for the Education of Young Children, an early education advocacy group, reports Idaho EdNews.
Idaho is among only a handful of states that does not fund pre-K, and the idea has run into stiff resistance at the Statehouse. But AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer says she hopes the new data will make pre-K into a “safe issue” for lawmakers.
“This has been a missing piece in the whole conversation,” Oppenheimer said at a Statehouse news conference Wednesday morning. “We didn’t really know what Idahoans all across the state think.”
Erik Iverson, president and CEO of Moore Information, which has been doing public opinion research in Idaho for nearly 30 years, said, “There’s passion about it, too – people feel very strongly about it.” Among the 76 percent of voters who support state funding, 53 percent said they “strongly support” it, he reported, a remarkably high figure for such polling. “They think the state should be doing more, and they strongly support state investment in early childhood education in the state of Idaho,” Iverson said.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent, interviewed a representative sample of 406 registered Idaho voters from April 27 to May 2, 2017, plus an additional group of 103 Idaho parents of children ages five and younger.
The poll also turned up worries about the quality and affordability of preschool in Idaho; strong support for the idea that kids need preschool to be prepared for kindergarten; and found that 76 percent of the parents surveyed would utilize public preschool.
“Today, nearly half of Idaho’s children enter kindergarten without the foundational skills they need to be successful on Day 1,” Oppenheimer said.
Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has a full report online here.