1. Florida Politics

New survey shows Common Core support declining

Jeb Bush has been a vocal supporter of Common Core, but Republicans oppose the standards and have attacked Bush’s stance on them.
Jeb Bush has been a vocal supporter of Common Core, but Republicans oppose the standards and have attacked Bush’s stance on them.
Published Aug. 21, 2014

Public support for Common Core, the education standards heavily supported by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has suffered as more people learn about it, according to a new survey.

While 80 percent of Americans have heard about Common Core, 60 percent oppose requiring teachers to use the standards to guide instruction, the survey by PDK/Gallup finds.

Opposition among Republicans was at 76 percent. Among Democrats, it was 38 percent, and independents 60 percent.

"For the 33% of Americans who favor the Common Core, the most important reason is because it will help more students learn what they need to know regardless of where they go to school," read a survey memo released Wednesday. "For the 60% of Americans who oppose using the Common Core, their most important reason is that it will limit the flexibility that teachers have to teach what they think is best."

A separate poll this week, from the journal EducationNext, also shows declining support for the standards used by dozens of states.

Florida adopted the standards but, under fire, made some tweaks and scrubbed the controversial name in favor of "Florida Standards."

The new poll includes comments from the public, such as from Abby Scott Goff, a mother of two from St. Augustine.

"Teachers are very frustrated with how they have to teach," she said. "One teacher who's been teaching for 18 years told me she feels like she isn't able to teach the way she was taught to teach and the way she believes she should teach. I think the Common Core limits what teachers can teach and how they can teach to an individual child."

Bush and his education foundation have helped promote Common Core, but the former governor has also come under attack from the right (there's some opposition on the left, too) and it would be something he has to deal with if he decides to run for president.

Bush has remained consistent while others have wavered, none more vividly than Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. He went from a supporter to an arch opponent, a change critics say is driven by his presidential aspirations. A court on Tuesday, however, blocked Jindal's attempt to repeal Common Core in Louisiana.

The PDK/Gallup survey was conducted May 29 to June 20 for 1,001 people age 18 or older.

"Any of us who support the Common Core would be crazy not to be concerned," said Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank. But he said the results affirm the effectiveness of attacks on Common Core, not on support for education reform.

In the EducationNext poll, half of respondents were asked about Common Core and half were asked about higher standards without using the name. In the first group, support dropped 12 percent over the past year to 53 percent. But support increased to 68 percent in the second group.

Petrilli said Common Core proponents recognize the challenge and will open a new campaign to shore up support.