Daily Dispatches
Karima Hawkins of Jackson, Miss., foreground, protests the Common Core at the state Capitol.
Associated Press/Photo by Rogelio V. Solis
Karima Hawkins of Jackson, Miss., foreground, protests the Common Core at the state Capitol.

Is Common Core losing the public perception test?

Common Core

The education standards called Common Core have been adopted in more than 40 states, but according to a Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup poll released Wednesday, the majority of Americans oppose them.

By the end of 2012, all but a handful of states had adopted Common Core. But the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans had never heard of the standards already in place.

Public awareness has grown since then, and so has public concern. Eighty-one percent of poll participants this year had “heard at least a little” about Common Core, and 60 percent said they don’t want it in their classrooms.

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“What people are concerned about is their loss of control,” said Emmett McGroarty from American Principles Project, a conservative organization working to fight Common Core.

In April 2009, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, two private organizations, began developing the Common Core standards. Slightly more than a year later, in June 2010, they released the final draft. States quickly adopted the standards, some doing so before the final draft was even out, motivated, many say, to meet “college- and career-ready standards” requirements for federal Race to the Top grants. States did not have time to thoroughly examine the Common Core and “certainly didn’t have time to take it to the people,” McGroarty said.

Another recent poll by Education Next shows rising concern over Common Core. It found only 26 percent of the public in opposition, but that number doubled from 13 percent last year.

The large discrepancy between the two polls could come from the wording of the questions, according to NPR. The PDK/Gallup question simply asks, “Do you favor or oppose having the teachers in your community use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach?”

The Education Nextquestion is much longer, explaining “states have been deciding whether or not to use the Common Core, which are standards for reading and math” that “will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance.” When worded this way, the public appears less opposed to the idea.

Opposition to Common Core might stem from public misunderstanding, Education Next suggests. But Common Core opponents insist they’re not confused.

Common Core advocates say the standards are state-led and voluntarily adopted. But according to a paper from the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project, the federal Department of Education “used legally suspect means—the Race to the Topcompetition and the promise of waivers from No Child Left Behind—to impose the standards on the states.”

The largest worry among PDK/Gallup poll respondents opposed to Common Core was that the standards would limit teachers’ flexibility and freedom. Common Core supporters note the standards are not curriculum and teachers can still teach as they choose. Opponents say while that is factually true, teachers must align curriculum to the standards or their students will fail standards-based assessments.

Another point of concern about Common Core is how the government will use assessment information. “The means of assessing students and the data that result from those assessments are up to the discretion of each state and are separate and unique from the Common Core,” according to the standards’ website.

But states are aligning assessments to Common Core, and according to the U.S. Department of Education website, the Recovery Act competition gives states grants to develop “longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.” Not only are citizens concerned about personal privacy, this “encompasses a worldview of the proper role of government that is greatly at odds with American founding principles,” the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project argue.

According to the polls, Common Core is increasingly at odds with the American people as well.

Emily Scheie
Emily Scheie

Emily is a World Journalism Institute intern.

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