Give Minnesotans what they really want: School choice

A strong majority (74 percent) of Minnesotans favor a school choice policy where parents can use tax dollars to send their child to a public or private school that best serves their needs. The results are from the latest Thinking Minnesota poll from Center of the American Experiment. Even 61 percent of Democrats supported school choice, creating tension for Minnesota DFL leaders who rely on political and monetary support from the state’s teachers’ union, Education Minnesota. Education Minnesota is strongly opposed to school choice.

The poll was conducted the last week of the legislative session by Meeting Street Insights, a nationally recognized polling operation based in Charleston, South Carolina. Using a mix of cell phones and landline phones, the company interviewed 500 registered voters across Minnesota from May 21-23, 2023. The margin of error is +-4.38 percent.

Minnesotans also overwhelmingly (80 percent) believe that school closures caused by our overreaction to COVID-19 had a negative effect on children. There has been no movement on this question since it was asked one year ago, and it is unlikely to change in the future.

Many warned Gov. Tim Walz not to close schools during the pandemic, recognizing the low incidence of COVID-19 among young people and the potential for dramatic learning loss. Those fears have come true according to a report from American Experiment titled The Cost of Lockdowns and Shutdowns: How school closures became a policy decision that held Minnesota students hostage. The report detailed how districts with little in-person instruction experienced the greatest declines in reading proficiency in both spring 2021 and 2022 compared to spring 2019.

Public Safety

Minnesotans have also made up their minds about crime and public safety. In the current poll, 77% of respondents are personally concerned about the level of crime in Minnesota, a very high number and consistent with the last two times this question was asked in June 2021 (81%) and December 2021 (86%). Minnesota residents are resigned to the fact that high crime is now a way of life.

Wrong Track

Most Minnesotans in the latest Thinking Minnesota poll also told pollsters they are not on board with the so-called “transformative” legislative agenda passed in 2023. Fifty-nine percent of Minnesotans rated the work of the legislature as “only fair” or “poor.” This is an astonishingly large number considering the amount of positive coverage the 2023 legislative session received from a fawning press. The fact that the poll was taken just as the session was ending makes it even more astonishing.

Minnesotans’ displeasure with the legislature clearly influenced the fact that 51 percent of respondents said the state is now on the wrong track, with only 43 percent saying it’s on the right track. This is the first time in the Walz era that most Minnesotans believe the state is on the wrong track. In March of 2019, 57 percent of Minnesotans believed the state was on the right track.

Earlier polling from Thinking Minnesota showed Independents have been strongly against the Walz/DFL agenda, and in all cases, they match or exceed opposition from their fellow Minnesotans.

  • Raising the sales tax in the metro area to pay for transit projects is opposed by 58% of Minnesotans and 58% of Independents.
  • Raising the tax on all retail deliveries such as those from Amazon, Fed-Ex, or Door Dash is opposed by 72% of Minnesotans and 72% of Independents.
  • Raising the fee for car tabs is opposed by 81% of Minnesotans and 86% of Independents.
  • Sex change operations for minors is opposed by 67% of Minnesotans and 67% of Independents.
  • Restoring the right to vote for convicted felons BEFORE they serve their full sentences is opposed by 60% of Minnesotans and 68% of Independents.
  • Creating a new payroll tax to pay for a state-run paid family leave program is opposed by 50% of Minnesotans and 71% of Independents.

The complete results of the poll will be released in the next issue of Thinking Minnesota magazine.