Common Core Support Plummets…Again

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The annual Education Next poll on school reform has been released, and the results are not good for the Common Core initiative, which seems to abide by the philosophy that the more Americans know about it, the more they do not like it.

The survey, which was administered in May and June to 4,000 participants, found that support for the Common Core education reform has continued its descent from 65% in 2013 to 53% in 2014 and now to 49%. Democrats remain more supportive of the education reform–at 57%–than Republicans at 37%.

The decline in support for the Common Core standards is apparently not due to its “brand,” which some politicians have termed “toxic” and “poisonous.”

To test this out, instead of mentioning the phrase “Common Core,” the poll asked a second group of respondents whether they support or oppose “the use of shared standards across the states.” Results still showed a drop in support from 68% in 2014 to 54% in 2015.

Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom director, Neal McCluskey, concluded results of the survey show that Common Core is “crashing.”

“The news isn’t good for the Core,” writes McCluskey, joining former U.S. Department of Education senior policy adviser Ze’ev Wurman, who recently wrote at Breitbart News that Common Core is “dead.”

Teacher support for the Core has plunged from 76% to 40%, with 50% now in opposition to the reform. In addition, of those in the public who report that Common Core is being used in their school district, 51% said these standards have had a negative effect on schools, while only 28% think they have had a positive effect.

Despite the continued unpopularity of the Common Core standards themselves, a fair number of Americans may still not be getting the concept that the reason why Common Core is problematic is how it came about: that is, states and their governors gave up their constitutional rights and responsibilities to decide their own education standards and policy to get cold, hard cash from the federal government. Said cash and a few other trinkets, like waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law, would be forthcoming as long as these states signed onto the Common Core reform.

Still, according to the Education Next poll, 41% of the public believes the federal government should be in charge of “setting educational standards for what children should know,” while 43% think that should be the job of states. Only 15% of those surveyed believe setting educational standards is the job of local governments, i.e., local school districts.

“That means roughly 4 out of 10 people are ignoring the Constitution, as well as the federal government’s very poor track record,” writes McCluskey.

He adds:

The poll also finds that 67 percent of the public thinks DC should require that all students “in grades 3-8 and once in high school” take math and reading tests. Oh, and allowing parents to opt their kids out of such tests? Only 26 percent of the public, and 32 percent of parents, support that. If there is a unifying theme here it may be that the public likes the abstract idea of national benchmarks but not centralized ramifications for performance, which we likely see reflected in the Common Core debate and No Child Left Behind reauthorization.

While the Common Core initiative is likely one of the most hotly debated education issues the United States has seen in decades, the reason why it is bad for America still escapes a good chunk of the public. To be sure, Common Core’s “crazy math” is frustrating for students and parents alike; but the real crisis at hand is that states and local governments have surrendered their constitutional rights, placing control of education more squarely in the grip of politicians and special interest groups in Washington, D.C. No doubt, Americans should be taking up this very issue with their members of Congress and with the 2016 presidential candidates as the campaigns gain momentum.


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