Dittman Research survey shows Alaskans support reform in state’s education system


Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday released the results from a statewide public opinion poll on education in Alaska.

The poll revealed strong support for increasing education funding, yet as a general approach to improving education outcomes, Alaskans believe that “change and reforms to the education system” are more important than “increasing education funding” by a margin of 1.7-to-1.

“So the battle you’re seeing play out right now is a battle between just funding or funding and educational reform? The ‘just funders’ don’t want educational reform. If they did, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. So a lot of the loud voices that want this funding, they do not want educational reform. Why?” Dunleavy said.

The survey results are released just days after teachers and school industry union members encouraged students to walk out, and after high school students swarmed the Alaska Capitol building, supported by Democrat lawmakers, chanting that they wanted more money.

While 77% of Alaskans surveyed support increasing BSA funding, 57% said that changes and reforms to the education system are the most important factors in improving education outcome, compared to 33% who said that increasing education funding is the most important factor for improving education outcomes.

Dunleavy said that increased funding for schools is important and will happen, but that the former funding package was inadequate without something in return — results from schools that show improved outcomes.

“If the significant shifts over the past decade in how Alaskan families are choosing to educate their children were not already a worthy indicator, this survey confirms that Alaskans want to reform public education in Alaska so it works better for their children,” said Dunleavy. “School funding is essential, and like most of the survey respondents, I support necessary education funding. However, increased funding is not a silver bullet. It’s not the be-all and end-all, and it should not be the end of the discussion. Anyone who thinks that merely increasing the BSA will fix Alaska’s education system deceives themselves. Alaskans want an adequately funded education system that does not maintain the status quo. They want children able to read, write and perform math at their grade level. The responsibility we bear as policy makers is to craft education policy that produces the results Alaskans want to see – not to write blank checks to school districts. They want their children to get the best possible education. For many families, charter schools can do that. As long as I am governor, I will advocate for children, not special interests.”

Other key findings show that 75% support an open enrollment system, and 73% support public charter schools using excess capacity of other public schools. Also, 73% of Alaskans grade Alaska schools with a “C” grade or lower.

  • 71% support a bonus incentive program to recruit and retain teachers
  • 64% support a greater allocation of education funding to public charter schools 
  • 58% support a greater allocation of education funding to public homeschooling
  • 56% think undercapacity schools should be consolidated when student impact minimal
  • 54% support resources to transport students to their school of choice
  • 23% support use of PFD to increase education funding
  • 15% support use of PFD to keep undercapacity school building open

The poll was conducted by Dittman Research from March 20-24, 2024. Matt Larkin, president of Dittman Research, went through a slide presentation with reporters to show them the details of the survey. That slide deck is here.


  1. Ask questions for what answers you want and you will always get the answers you want. Nobody is asking why our moneypit education factories require 50+ districts run by administrators trained Outside. Parents trained in bottom-of-the-nation schools don’t know better.

    • I’ve taken a number of polls in my time. (And I used to create questionnaires myself as I programmed software.) Questions asked can be very important. However, I took this poll, and the questions that were asked weren’t skewed like so many polls I have taken. I will call out skewed questions while taking polls (for all the good it does). The only complaint one might have on this poll is whether all questions of concern were asked.

  2. Everyone likes hearing that the Magical Majority can legislate more Education for everyone for less $$$$, and still a provide a full PFD. Now on to solving the mysterious transgender athlete crisis that may, or may not exist

    • The PFD shouldn’t even be a part of this discussion. The PFD is its own fund. Lawbreakers have mismanaged this for years now.

  3. It is amazing to me how deluded some are to our present circumstances.

    The feds are borrowing 1 trillion dollars every 3 months. The debt is already at 34.6 trillion. This is not sustainable- to say nothing of the great immoral generational debt we are foisting on the young who do not have a say in this.

    The federal money spigot is coming to an end one way or another. This will have a profound effect on state and municipal spending in Alaska. No politician is taking about this. Like children they are pretending it will just go away.

    There is no money. There is no cavalry coming over the hill to save you. You save you and your family. I highly recommend becoming part of a community that has your back, as you likely need each other. There will be another dawn. Many countries have gone bankrupt and recovered. I wish we could get to the recovery part- though it will be painful- instead of pretending and making things worse.

    • Hear, hear! It would be helpful if our recovery could include Alaskans relying on the state’s resources, as we were able to do in the past. Unfortunately, even our own state has squandered a lot of that past money.

  4. I wonder what the percentage would be if the question was abolishing the whole damn failed thing.

    • High enough that the powers that be wouldn’t want to risk any press attention on that subject.

  5. Who the hell are they calling. They never me and I was always against the increase. They shown no value as in kids test scores our kids are dead last there’s no information where they invest the monies towards. All they do is complain about we want more money.

    • There has not been so eloquently stated ‘just out of context than one of our own representatives the status and revelation of a change is needed. The elected official was speaking about health care here; why do we not realize the same observation when it comes to education?
      “Rep. Andrew Gray April 8, 2024 At 4:30 am
      For the record, my amendment to establish single payer health care was multiple pages, not “seven words.” Don’t trust what you read, folks. Get the facts.

      Fact: Alaska has the highest health care costs in the United States.

      Fact: Alaska’s health care outcomes are some of the worst in the country.

      Fact: when you are paying more than everybody else and getting less, you’re in a bad business model.”

      Just dub in education for health care(3 facts) and …..wait for it; its truth!

    • Power to the parents. True school choice. You would see privates schools pop up everywhere. The leftist teachers would be left walking out of state with a handkerchief on a stick.

  6. The problem is retaining enough qualified teachers in the state. This is because once new teachers gain some experience, they often relocate out of state leaving us short changed without quality staff. This is because Alaska’s benefits package (retirement, etc…) isn’t competitive with those offered in other states. Even if you give a hiring bonus, teachers will just take the bonus and get a job elsewhere for more pay after they gain some experience anyway. The answer is to restructure the current benefits package to be more in-line with industry standards.

    • The problem you fail to note is that you fail to note just how dumb you have to be to take “industry standard”.

      If you are under 30 trusting that a pension will be there for retirement (let alone that pension and social security) is very, very, very ballsy.

      Look around you, how many younger teachers are paying into a state pension??? None, they are tier III…

      The underfunded retirement programs will require a legislative bail out just like almost every pension plan in the country. My wife is a teacher, and we are thrilled to have a private 403b, with a match and NO money going to Social Security.

      Younger people need to smell the roses, SS will not be there for us, nor will any pension program your union is promising. “Industry standard” retirement will rest upon a legislative bail out once the boomers have depleted the fund.

      You can do what you want in life, I don’t plan on gambling our comfort in retirement on social programs that are already UNDERFUNDED.

  7. Poor educational results are the norm and money is wasted on the claim that newer methods and materials is the solution. That is a total waste of funds. Now, teachers teach but lets look into why the administration side has such a large factor in the cost in each district. Having so many in administration seems top heavy.

    A one room class got better results than what we produce today on average. The focus of the administration seems to find ways to promote that state schools are who molds the child. Since this school system can’t educate the majority of the children to standards (without lowering the standards) why do they want more impact on the children. The push to control mental health, morals, faith, physical health, and to remove the parents by not informing the details of their class information or questionnaires seems far more important than providing students with the skills to become independent.
    I want higher standards for results. Focusing on reading —-Dick and Jane worked for generations… These modern changing failed so go back to Dick and Jane. The administration needs to be trimmed down as they are the ones pushing to be relevant by promoting failing new methods of education.

  8. Recent grads come here to experience Alaska living. The romance of that wears off quickly. Then they are left with missing family and culture of the lower 48. No amount of pay or future benefit can compete with that. I think this is true of all industries, not just education. This place is very transitory. I’m sure someone has data showing outmigration by occupation.

    • I think that people from the lower 48 need to do more research and talk to more Alaskans before they make that move to Alaska. Alaska is not for everyone, but there are Alaskans that love this place and would never leave.

  9. If you really want to improve educational standards in Alaska:
    * Have real school choice by having the educational dollars follow the student;
    * Allow the parents to choose the school (public or private) that they believe will do the best educational job;
    * Real educational choice will provide real competition and thus will result in educational excellence.
    Real competition works in sports and the free market in producing excellence. Why do we restrict competition in our k-12 public schools? Why do we continue to allow the educational unions and politicians to destroy the education of our children?

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