Education Next just released their latest poll on school reform that highlights Common Core, here is an excerpt of their findings:
The Common Core’s popularity had been sliding prior to Trump’s rise. From 2013 through 2016, public support for the Common Core steadily eroded, from 65% to 42%. Meanwhile, opposition more than tripled, from 13% to 42%. Yet this year that downward trend has suddenly come to a halt (Figure 4). At 41%, the level of support shows no real change from a year ago. The percentage opposed, at 38%, also tracks closely to 2016. The escalating trend of opinion against Common Core may have run its course.
Republicans remain more opposed to the Common Core than Democrats. Roughly half of Republicans (51%) oppose the Common Core and only about a third (32%) support it. The pattern is reversed among Democrats, who support Common Core by a 49%–28% margin. Teachers, meanwhile, are evenly split on the standards, with 45% in favor and 44% opposed, as compared to 41% support and 51% opposed in 2016. Proponents can hope that this upward shift in teacher support could prefigure gains more generally in the future.
Opposition to the Common Core partly reflects a tainted brand name rather than antagonism to the concept of shared state standards. Support for using “standards for reading and math that are the same across states” is much higher when no mention is made of Common Core. We identify this effect by randomly assigning respondents either to a version of the question that explicitly refers to “Common Core” or to a version that leaves the name out. A substantial majority of the public (61%) support the general concept of standards that are the same across the states—20 percentage points higher than the share that supports “Common Core.” The effect is even larger among Republicans, boosting support by 32 percentage points, to 64%. Among Democrats, support increases by 12 percentage points, to 61%, when the phrase “Common Core” is dropped.
Four quick thoughts.
- Some who have opposed Common Core have done so because they don’t like the standards, not because they are against common national standards. I disagree with that position, but I recognize there are a variety of opinions.
- Due to the advent of click bait news, there is a growing segment of our population who is not very interested in digging into policies. They know they are against Common Core but haven’t thought through exactly why. I can also say the same about people who support Common Core. Common Core and academic standards isn’t a sexy topic so on both sides there has been a lot of superficial opposition and support.
- Policy makers should not take away from this poll a belief that keeping Common Core is ok. If it has a tainted brand, there is a reason for that. They should move away from Common Core toward standards that are quality. I’ve not opposed the idea of state academic standards, but they need to be quality, approved through our elected representatives after public scrutiny and debate, and offer flexibility for local schools. Common Core was written in private, bypassed public and legislative scrutiny, and are not quality. States also need to recognize that standards are not a silver bullet for everything that ails public schools.
- Common Core opponents, myself included, need to focus more on why top-down national standards are not a good idea in general. I’m not saying we haven’t done that, I know I have made that case, but we need to do that more frequently and hammer the points home.