Common Core support is crumbling: Opponents still have a long way to go, but they’re shifting the narrative

There is a growing movement inside Congress and states legislatures to fight back against the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and it looks like it’s beginning to bear some fruit. Over at Reason, Robby Soave reports on a new poll showing the tide turning against the the college- and career-ready standards:

The numbers come courtesy of an Education Next poll. In 2013, 65 percent of people supported Common Core. That number fell to a slim 53 percent majority this year—much of that support coming from Democrats, who remained largely unchanged in their overall opinion.

The results for both Republicans and teachers are even more staggering, however. The Republican numbers changed from 57 percent in favor to just 43 percent in favor and the teachers changed from 76 percent in favor to 46 percent.

These results are significant, since they chip away at key assertions made by the backers of Common Core. The backers have often maintained that opposition to Common Core stems from misinformation and that those who understand the new standards best—i.e., teachers—liked them just fine. That is clearly no longer true.

The premise of Common Core is that the same education standards would be applied across the United States. States that participate in Common Core are allowed to develop their math and language arts curricula.

While Common Core is a creature of the National Governors Association and adopted in 43 states, college- and career-ready standards have been co-opted by the Obama administration, further centralizing education.

The Obama administration dangled federal money over states to entice them into adopting Common Core, before the standards were even finalized. Race to the Top money, part of the 2009 stimulus bill, wasn’t some free giveaway to states. It came with strings attached. In order to get a part of the $4.35 billion of this stimulus money, states had to adopt Common Core standards.

This may have not been coercion, per se, but revenue-starved states were desperate for the money after the recession, and the federal handouts were, unfortunately, irresistible to most states.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan also backs Common Core. He once dismissively said that “some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also playing a big role in promoting Common Core, recently launching a PR blitz through its “Business for Core” campaign to promote the education standards.

It should come as no surprise that there is a measure of cronyism here, too. Common Core is, as Soave recently explained, “corporate welfare for textbook giants.” It also a boon to computer software companies. No wonder Bill Gates is so heavily invested in Common Core!

Although opposition to Common Core has been driven by conservative and Tea Party activists, but a growing number of national and state teachers unions, including the National Education Association, are beginning to voice displeasure with the standards and implementation efforts.

Needless to say, Common Core supporters are losing the narrative battle, but there is still a lot of work that has to be done to win the war.


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