Despite fake viral test questions and fear of a government take over of education, a slight majority of parents have a positive opinion of Common Core, according to a new Gallup survey. The set of national education standards has come under scrutiny from conservative and libertarian groups for being a once-size-fits-all approach to education and, among other conspiracy theories, teaching kids to hate the Constitution. But this latest poll show shows that a third of public school parents have heard of the standards, and the ones who have are more likely to approve.
On Friday Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight argues that survey data suggests that the majority of Democrats and moderate Republicans believe Common Core with either improve education or not affect it at all. "Even self-described 'strong' Republicans are more likely to think it improves rather than harms educational quality," Silver writes. "And relatively few Americans of any political description have strong feelings against it." At the same time, the Gallup poll does support an argument from critics that Common Core was created without enough input from parents and teachers, which took the public by surprise. Gallup notes that "fewer than four in 10 parents (38%) appear to be knowledgeable about the standards" and "nearly as many — 31% — have heard nothing, while another 30% have heard only a little."
That lack of information is one of the law's biggest hurdles. Silver tries to make the argument that support for Common Core won't hurt more moderate Republicans like Jeb Bush, but the data doesn't address the anti-Common Core narrative. As Libby Nelson, Vox's education writer, tweeted, there's room for "some badly needed education on party activists and Common Core resistance." The Colbert Report covered the main attacks against the program earlier this week:
The Daily Caller, Breitbart and other sites picked up the segment, the latter noting that Colbert "mocked those who are wise to liberal indoctrination in school textbooks and classes, but even he admits Common Core math is worthy of some ridicule." But those sites picked up on the errors in the segment, as noted by Politico. Specifically:
- Uniform standards in every state. "Different states have different values," Colbert says. "I don't want my kid in Colorado's drug education course, which classifies weed as a condiment." (Politico notes that Common Core only sets standards for language arts and math, not science. It also hasn't been picked up in every state.)
- The questions are confusing, like the one to the right. ("As Fordham's Michael Petrilli has been pointing out for months, a lot of the badly written textbooks and worksheets labeled 'Common Core' were actually published long before the standards," according to Politico.)
In actuality, the tests seem to be going fairly well in the states that have elected to take them. As Libby Nelson writes at Vox, schools recently began giving the tests to students to see whether the tests works. "Students' individual results will not count this year, and school districts will not even learn their students' scores," Nelson notes. The pressure is on the two groups that designed the tests — if anything goes wrong, "from a server meltdown to a confusing question that goes viral," Nelson writes, that will motivate the standard's detractors. The 33 percent of parents who haven't heard about the law are more likely to be influenced by a dumb test question than news that everything went well.