Two-thirds of Idahoans have faith in their public and private school education institutions, a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll shows.

But that confidence drops when it comes to public charter schools, and falls significantly when adult Idahoans are asked about their favorable opinions of homeschooling and online schooling programs, finds IPW pollster Dan Jones & Associates in a new survey.

Their education opinions may be a bit old school (sorry about the pun).

But public school advocates have been suspicious about charter schools for some time, fearing they are taking money away from traditional public schools.

(Charter schools are public schools, funded by local school districts and state government. Charter schools usually have a theme, like learning high tech use, music and drama and such.)

Homeschooling is seen as offbeat by many parents, the home school advocates fearing liberal religious or moral influences in public schools.

Online education, still rather new and unconventional, may be best for special needs children, very bright or troubled children who greatly excel or fall back in a traditional school setting.

In any case, Idahoans like their “old school” public and private schools, Jones finds:

  • 66 percent of Idahoans give a “favorable” opinion of public schools – either a 4 or a 5 on a 1-to-5 unfavorable/favorable rating scale.
  • 19 percent are neutral (a 3 rating) on public schools.
  • While 13 percent (a 1 or a 2 rating) have an “unfavorable” opinion of public schooling, grades K-12.
  • Only 1 percent didn’t have an opinion on public school.
  • 63 percent of Idahoans like private education, 21 percent are neutral, and 14 percent don’t like private schooling.

Public opinion then starts to turn on public charter schools.

  • 55 percent still have a favorable opinion of them, but 21 percent are neutral, and 14 percent don’t like charter schooling.

Just over a third of Idahoans, 38 percent, have a favorable opinion of homeschooling – not a great endorsement.

  • 26 percent are neutral.
  • But 32 percent disapprove of homeschooling.

Forty-one percent like online teaching.

  • But 31 percent are neutral.
  • And 23 percent actually don’t like online schooling programs.

The GOP-controlled Idaho Legislature and Republican Gov. Butch Otter have poured millions of new taxpayer dollars into public (and charter) schools the last several years, making a large financial impact on Idaho public education.

That may be one reason for the two-thirds support of traditional public schools.

Jones finds some partisan political differences in Idahoans’ opinions of the various schooling options.

For example, 63 percent of Republicans like public charter schools, but only 49 percent of Democrats do.

Across the nation, charter schools are seen as an alternative to teacher-union-dominated public schooling by many conservative groups.

Still, 63 percent of Republicans like traditional public schools, while 79 percent of Democrats do.

Only 26 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of homeschooling, while 44 percent of Republicans do.

Forty-six percent of Republicans like online education, but only 37 percent of Democrats do – a clear sign that Democrats are more skeptical on what kind of online schooling may be provided.

Jones polled 601 adults from July 5-16. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.