By Corinne Murdock |
School choice is popular throughout Arizona across all party lines, according to a poll released by the Yes Every Kid Foundation (YEKF) earlier this month.
The poll reported that both parents and non-parents across all political parties support the Education Savings Account (ESA) Program. 78 percent of parents and 62 percent of non-parents support ESAs. 48 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents, and 78 percent of Republicans expressed support for school choice. Only 38 percent of Democrats opposed the ESA Program.
The poll also asked its respondents for their view of Gov. Katie Hobbs. 38 percent expressed an unfavorable view of the governor, with 34 percent expressing a favorable view and 20 percent expressing no opinion on the matter. The percentage of those who expressed an unfavorable view of the governor increased by 14 percent after pollsters told the respondents that Hobbs wanted to eliminate the ESA Program.
WPA Intelligence conducted the poll for YEKF.
YEKF is a Virgina-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit associated with its 501(c)(4) nonprofit counterpart, Yes Every Kid. Their director of policy operations, Whitney Marsh, has an extensive leadership background in Arizona.
Marsh was formerly the deputy chief of staff for former Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, from December 2019 to last April; executive director for the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, vice president of education policy and budget for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and then director of strategic initiatives under the Arizona Board of Regents under former Gov. Doug Ducey; state policy director of K-12 funding for Foundation for Excellence in Education; and senior budget analyst for former Gov. Jan Brewer.
Several YEKF executives hail from the Koch Network: Director Andrew Clark; COO Erica Jedynak, also formerly the state director for Americans for Prosperity; Vice President of Strategy Matt Frendewey, also formerly a senior advisor to both former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.
In response to the poll, Arizona State Board of Education member and school choice proponent Jenny Clark criticized Hobbs’ opposition to the ESA Program.
“ESA approval in Arizona is popular across party lines,” said Clark. “Maybe Governor Hobbs will get a clue! Families want choices!”
Hobbs retracted a $50 million grant issued by her predecessor, Ducey, for the ESA Program in May. The funding was slated for day-long ESA Program kindergarten. Hobbs said the grant represented unequal treatment of ESA versus non-ESA students, since the state only funds half-day kindergarten for public school students.
Last month, Hobbs’ office issued a memo declaring that the ESA Program would bankrupt the state. ADE Superintendent Tom Horne countered with an independent analysis debunking Hobbs’ prediction.
Hobbs’ initial budget asked for a rollback of the universalized ESA Program. However, the governor ultimately compromised in the final form of the budget.