More on the Dittman annual legislative poll: School choice has support

Last night, I wrote about Dittman Research’s annual poll commissioned by the Alaska state House Majority. The sample was 800 Alaskan residents from all over the state, and across party lines. It showed that marijuana legalization has the support of 52 percent of the public, with 44 percent opposing it. Raising minimum wage, another initiative on the upcoming ballot, has the support of 69 percent of the people. Gov. Sean Parnell has good job performance ratings at 54 percent, but not nearly as good as last year’s numbers.

What I left out, because I didn’t have the poll then, was what the public felt about education. Now I do. Despite what you might think and have heard, allowing for the use of public funds to go to private schools appears to have wide support across the state.

Here’s the intro paragraph into one set of questions, for which the polling sample was split:

A school choice program allows parents the option of sending their child to the school of their choice, whether that school is public or private, including both religious and non-religious schools. The goal is to improve overall performance by creating healthy competition among the schools. If this program is adopted, a portion of state funds that are currently allocated to a student’s school district would instead follow the student to the school of their parents’ choosing.

Based on that intro, here’s one question:

Would you support or oppose amending Alaska’s constitution to allow a school choice program in Alaska? …and is that strongly or somewhat support/oppose?

  • Strongly support: 32%
  • Somewhat support: 22%
  • Somewhat oppose: 9%
  • Strongly oppose: 33%
  • Unsure: 4%

Here’s the other question which was asked to the other half of the sample:

Please tell me which of the following two statements comes closest to your view:

  • Allowing public funds to be used for private schools will lead to an erosion of Alaska’s public school system: 31%


  • Allowing parents to choose where to send their child to school, and allowing a portion of the public funds to follow the child, will create a healthy competition and improve the overall performance of Alaska’s schools: 61%
  • Neither/Other: 5%
  • Unsure: 3%

The 61 percent who said that public funds going to private schools would increase performance were asked the following:

Would you support or oppose amending Alaska’s constitution to allow a school choice program in


  • Support: 74%
  • Oppose: 13%
  • Unsure: 13%

Notice that the word “voucher” wasn’t used in the poll. Even so, it appears that support is wide and deep. However, it’s still unlikely that a resolution that would put a state constitutional amendment up for vote of the people will pass the Senate this session. Sen. Mike Dunleavy, who is sponsoring the resolution, hasn’t been able to muster the votes. The resolution is in Senate Rules.

A few other issues: Only 13 percent know that oil funds 90 percent of state government. A whopping 16 percent think that it funds anywhere from 1 to 25 percent. This begs the question: why can’t the state and the oil companies do a better job of informing the citizens?

And 31 percent of Alaskans think that making deep budget cuts, at the expense of state services, is the best way to make up for budget deficits. That said, the public always wants budget cuts, until it’s a program that effects their lives.

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7 thoughts on “More on the Dittman annual legislative poll: School choice has support

  1. Lynn Willis

    Oil revenue is critical to this state so even it represents 47% of total revenue we simply cannot function without it. For example because of a 2 billion dollar decline in oil revenue this year we are now in deficit spending earlier than predicted.
    Total state revenue includes federal money granted to the state doesn’t it? Take that federal money away and see how we would look. Then try to sustain our current operating and capital budgets without unrestricted revenue of which, as you state, 92% comes from oil taxes. I suggest the poll question demonstrates the critical need for oil revenue and the correct response of “90%” is valid. (Also, state revenue is quoted in billions not millions.)

  2. Barbara Propes

    Public polls are important because this is a democracy and what the people think counts.

  3. Barb H.

    Can someone tell me why the legislature is spending state dollars on public opinion polls? From the questions related to school choice, it is rather apparent that iys not to do the will of the people. I recognize that this poll wasn’t all that expensive; however, as budgets decline, I would suggest eliminating this annual poll would be a good step to saving money. To me, it appears to be a political expenditure paid for with public funds. Also, to make the point it was a poll done for the Republican majority, by a Republican pollster and paid for by public funds. I also wonder why they think they need such a tool to do yheir jobs. Are they out of touch with their constituents so much that they need a pollster to tell them what their constituents think ? Just government waste. Nothing more, nothing less.

  4. Goldminer North

    My children have all gone to Monroe. I believe in and support school choice. I am one of the relative non-vocal majority. I do however vote. I am very disappointed in my RINO Senator Click Bishop. This guy in out of touch with his district and is blind to it because of his arrogance and ego. I made a mistake when I voyed for him instead of Ralph Seekins. I hope he gets a credible republican challenger so that I can contribute.
    Click is nothing but a non-thinking pawn of the teacher’s union.

  5. Lynn Willis

    School choice has big support? I guess that depends on your interpretation and bias. For example, if the only responses allowed were “strongly support” or “strongly oppose” to amending the Constitution that proposal would be opposed by a slight majority (oppose 33% support 32%).
    The term “voucher” should have been included in the questions. To not use the word voucher in this context is disingenuous. School funds are limited. The fixed costs (e.g. lights, heat, and maintenance) for operation of public schools would still exist after funds were diverted to vouchers. And how do you pay for that? In that context, the most significant statistic is that only 13 out of 100 Alaskans understand that oil taxes represent 90% of state revenue.


    I had a feeling that public support for school choice outweighed the noise and rallies agaisnt it that were organized by NEA and the unions. Unfortunately real people are too busy to sit for houirs waiting to testify or to waste a saturday morning standing somewhere holding a sign. The same legislators that are elected by the people don’t trust the people enough to make the right decision on SJR 9. Is this logical ? Of course it is. Look at the bad choices the public made in terms of who they selected as legislators ! May God save the people from themselves.

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