Common Core’s Silent Majority: As Unions and GOP Candidates Bash Standards, Americans Remain Supportive
Donald Trump exclaims that Common Core is a disaster and bad, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie adds that it simply isn’t working. Scott Walker, the governor-candidate from Wisconsin, states that high standards are wanted, but they should be set at the local level, which is why he opposes Common Core.
Most of the 17 Republican candidates have nothing positive to say about Common Core State Standards, which was a bipartisan national initiative that had the support of 65% of the American public just two years ago.
Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz take it a step further by supporting an amendment to the upper chamber’s education bill that would have allowed parents to opt out of all federally required tests. Marco Rubio also voted against the final bill. Only Jeb Bush and John Kasich have not joined the anti-Common-Core, anti-testing, parental opt-out protest. Bush questions whether he should back away from something that he knows works, due to differing viewpoints on what Common Core is.
Even teacher unions are raising concerns. The head of the National Education Association, who was formerly a supporter of Common Core, now says that implementation has been a disaster in many states. The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, believes that the implementation of Common Core is even worse than Obamacare.
Despite criticism coming from both the right and the left, the American public still quietly supports Common Core by a margin of nearly 15 percentage points. The ninth annual Education Next survey, which includes a nationally representative sample of both teachers and members of the general public, revealed these results. The survey was administered to over 4,000 people in May and June.
Although the support for Common Core dropped from 65% in 2013 to 53% in 2014, it has now stabilized at around 49% in 2015. Opposition has increased, but it is still at only 35%, with 16% being undecided.
Support for student testing is even higher, with 67% of the public supporting the federal requirement for annual testing. Only 21% are against it, and the remaining percentage takes a neutral position. This level of support is as high as it was in 2012.
The public is not in favor of allowing parents to opt out of testing. Only 25% of the public agrees with this idea, while 59% oppose it. Among parents, only 32% favor the opt-out approach.
However, the attacks on Common Core by Republicans are likely to continue during the primary season. Only 37% of Republican respondents support Common Core, compared to 57% of Democrats. Republicans do support federally required testing by a margin of 65% to 24%. Only 29% of Republicans favor opt-out provisions, with 57% opposed.
It is not just the partisan divide that should concern Common Core supporters; there has also been a significant drop in support within the teaching profession. In 2013, 76% of teachers supported Common Core, but this approval rate decreased to 46% in 2014, and it has fallen even further to 40% now. On the other hand, the percentage of teachers who oppose Common Core has risen to 50%, up from 40% last year, and only 12% two years ago.
Testing itself has also become less popular among teachers. In 2015, 46% of teachers are against the federal requirement for annual testing, while 47% give a positive nod. This is an increase from just 36% in 2012.
In conclusion, there is a peculiar situation occurring in the national standards and testing landscape. The Tea Party right and the teacher unions, who are usually adversaries, find themselves in an unlikely alliance against Common Core. Despite this, the majority of the public remains supportive of Common Core.