New statewide poll confirms widespread support for early childhood education

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A solid majority of Idahoans support state investment in early childhood education – even if it means paying more in taxes, according to the Boise State School of Public Service’s latest public policy survey. The results align with findings from a 2017 poll, which showed that Idaho voters and parents of young children believe that the state should be doing more to support early learning opportunities.

BSU surveyed a representative sample of 1,004 adults across Idaho and found that 60.7 percent believe state funding for early childhood education should be increased. And 54 percent said they’d still support increased funding if it meant paying more in taxes. Only 29.5 percent supported the idea of taking dollars from other educational programs in order to fund early childhood education. A strong majority – 77 percent – said they would support increased early childhood education funding to give local school districts the flexibility to fund programs designed to ensure that children are reading proficiently by third grade.

A 2017 poll conducted by the public opinion research firm Moore Information for the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) found that nearly seven in ten voters and parents of children age 5 or younger (69 percent of each group) believe the state should be doing more to ensure that children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Even higher percentages – 76 percent of voters and 80 percent of parents – said they support state investments in preschool. Further, that support was deep, with a majority feeling “strongly” in their support (53 percent of voters and 58 percent of parents).

“Idahoans recognize the importance of the early years in preparing children for success throughout their school years and beyond. They have consistently said that they want the state to do more to support early learning,” said Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “The question now is whether lawmakers will listen and act on what voters actually want.”

Idaho remains one of only six states that does not currently invest in public preschool options for families. Less than half of Idaho children begin kindergarten with grade-level reading skills, and many never catch up with their classmates.

“We keep doing the same things over and over and expecting to get different results. But it’s time to stop rearranging deck chairs to solve our challenges in education,” Oppenheimer said. The state needs to do what is right and provide children with opportunities to succeed from the start through high-quality preschool programs.”