Utah has been out ahead of most of the West when it comes to early education, and a new poll, commissioned by Utah Policy, a news and information site for Utah policymakers and voters, finds that a majority of its voters are happy about that.
Seventy-three percent of the 622 poll respondents from a random, representative sample of Utahans, said they somewhat or strongly supported an increase in funding for early-childhood education. That included a majority of Republicans and independents and nearly every Democrat surveyed (94 percent of them).
There was less support for making kindergarten full day. Only 50 percent supported the idea, and 21 percent strongly opposed it. Among Mormon respondents, 68 percent favored state-sponsored early education.
Largely conservative, the state has tried several innovative solutions to early education. There’s online preschool, for one, where children get 15 minutes a day of lessons meant to prepare them for kindergarten. That program, which costs $800 per student, also offers parent training and help getting Internet access if needed.
Some Utah communities have also taken a whack at the funding problem with social impact bonds—private investments in public preschool that are paid back with interest if the programs are successful and save the state money on things like special education services.
Several bills currently under consideration in the Utah legislature would expand or extend early-childhood programs in the state.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.