By Joy Pullman -
It’s poll season, and two annual education polls find most public attitudes about education policies are consistent with past years, but this year shows a sharp change on Common Core national education mandates. Now, finds the annual Pi Kappa Delta/Gallup poll, for the first time a majority of Americans--81 percent--has heard of Common Core. And 60 percent oppose it.
The annual Education Next survey out this week found support for Common Core at a bare majority, 53 percent, sharply down from 65 percent support last year. Its most significant finding, however, may be the 30-point drop in support for Common Core among teachers, from 76 percent last year to 46 percent this year. That’s huge. There’s almost been a near-quadrupling of opposition among teachers, from 12 to 40 percent.
The two polls also found a contradiction within American ideas about education control. The EdNext poll found that, when one removes the “Common Core” label, 68 Americans still support the concept of national education standards. But the Gallup poll found majorities agree that local school boards should have far more control over what schools teach than state or federal governments.
The two polls contradict each other on support for school choice, too: The EdNExt poll finds bare-majority support for most school choice policies, except for a solid 60 percent support for tax-credit scholarships, while the Gallup poll finds disfavor for school choice. This is likely because of poll questions: The Gallup poll is advised by teachers union representatives and, accordingly, puts a negative spin into its school voucher question (labeling only that education choice as “at public expense,” as if public schools don’t also function “at public expense”).
It’s likely that poll questions also help explain the divide over curriculum control. Everyone is for “standards” in the abstract. Everyone is not for “standards” that, like Common Core, coerce teachers and schools and impose bad education theories on the country. Folks who support protecting people’s right and duty to govern themselves need to spend more time explaining why centrally planned standards are an inherent oxymoron. Here’s a sample explanation:
Nationalizing education, like nationalizing anything, requires compromise to get enacted. And compromise inevitably sacrifices quality. So if you want quality, refuse nationalization. Quality has to grow from the ground up, through cooperation and competition, or it will never exist.
Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy, and culture. She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.