A poll released on Tuesday by pro-Common Core Education Next (EdNext) confirms that support for the Common Core standards has declined in general, and that teacher support for the controversial standards has especially dropped dramatically since last year, with 76 percent of teachers having supported them in 2013 but only 46 percent in favor of them this year.
Explaining that “sometimes sharp changes in opinion do occur,” the poll’s researchers state their findings show that “the share of the public that say it favors the Common Core State Standards slipped noticeably between 2013 and 2014,” and that “teacher opposition has more than tripled, from 12 percent to 40 percent.”
The poll of 5,000 adults surveyed during the spring finds that while more than two-thirds of them say they support the notion of shared academic standards, when asked about the “Common Core” standards in particular, support plummeted by 15 percentage points. Support for nameless standards was given by 68 percent of respondents, but only 53 percent were supportive when the words “Common Core” were used in the survey question.
In the 2013 survey, 65 percent of respondents were supportive of the “Common Core” standards.
The pollsters placed the survey question about common standards in the section of the poll titled, “Accountability.” The question is as follows:
As you may know, in the last few years states have been deciding whether or not to use [the Common Core, which are] standards for reading and math that are the same across the states. In the states that have these standards, they will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance. Do you support or oppose the use of the Common Core standards in your state?
“The words ‘Common Core’ elicit greater antagonism than does the concept of common standards itself,” conclude researchers Michael B. Henderson of the Public Policy Research Lab, Paul E. Peterson, editor-in-chief of Education Next, and Martin R. West of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The poll results found that, when political party is a factor, much of the decline in support of the Common Core standards is observed among Republicans.
Support among Republicans, according to the poll, has fallen from 57 percent last year to 43 percent in 2014, while Democrats remain at almost two-thirds in support of the Common Core standards.
“Significantly, the pronounced partisan polarization evoked by the phrase Common Core disappears when the question does not include those seemingly toxic words,” write the researchers, who observed that 68 percent of Republicans still supported generic common standards, an outcome that is identical to that of Democrats.
Sounding a lot like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), however, who sounded the call to “rebrand,” but not “retreat” from the Common Core standards, the poll’s authors seem to slip into what is now typical pro-Common Core reasoning for the failure of the standards. The authors blame “partisan” politics for Common Core’s lack of popularity as well as “misconceptions” on the part of the standards’ opponents.
“When people oppose a label but not the basic concept to which it is attached, it may mean they have heard the label but understand it to refer to something else, possibly something more far-reaching,” they write condescendingly of Common Core opponents who are presumed to be confused in some way.
Though Neal McCluskey, associate director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom, notes that poll results showing “the direction [sic] in which opinion has moved speaks volumes about the serious trouble the Core is in,” he is quick to observe the “spin” of EdNext‘s pro-Common Core poll.
“Just like last year, the question [above] gives a misleading description of either the Core or national standards generically…” McCluskey writes. “Like last year, the question completely ignores major federal coercion behind states’ adopting the Core, as well as the fact that the Core itself is only part of what’s necessary to ‘hold public schools accountable.'”
“And how many people would come out against something as seemingly positive as holding schools ‘accountable?'” McCluskey adds. “The devil is in how, exactly, that would be done.”
McCluskey concludes, “Common Core reality is far more complicated than simplistic survey questions can handle.”