The latest education poll by The Albertson Family Foundation, the “People’s Opinion Survey 2016,” reveals that nearly half of Idahoans would choose a private school for their children if money were no object. This is an all-time high percentage. The last time Idahoans were asked this question in 2012, 27 percent said their first choice would be a private school.
The reason is a combination of continued dissatisfaction with the regular public school system where 90 percent of Idaho kids are educated, and the demonstrated excellence of private schools, which teach four percent of Idaho schoolchildren and have room statewide for 5,000 more without a single levy or bond.
Idaho legislators should listen to Idahoans and help them choose excellent schools by passing House Joint Resolution 1. HJR 1 adds a sentence to the Idaho Constitution clarifying that aid to students is not the same thing as aid to schools. The public funding of churches or church schools remains unconstitutional. Future Legislatures will be free to create policies helping Idahoans choose the schools they want. Increased school choice also will encourage the public school system to step up its game and thereby benefit the kids remaining there.
Briana LeClaire, Meridian, Executive Director, Idaho Federation of Independent Schools