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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