Only 17 percent of Americans back Common Core State Standards, while 40 percent are opposed, according to a new poll by Farleigh Dickinson University. However, the poll also found that low level of support may be driven substantially over misconceptions regarding what Common Core actually is.
Common Core only concerns itself with math and reading, and does not address other subjects such as science. However, Farleigh Dickinson’s pollsters found that most Americans believe the standards are more expansive and cover several other subjects.
To test just how much Americans knew about Common Core, the poll asked respondents which of four particular topics – evolution, sex education, global warming, and the American Revolution – are included in the standards. In fact, none of the four are included, although the American Revolution is addressed indirectly by a requirement that students read some of America’s founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence.
Those topics’ absence didn’t keep a large number of respondents from saying they were included, however. 48 percent thought the Core covers the American Revolution, while 44 percent thought it includes sex education and 43 percent thought it teaches about evolution and global warming. Overall, 67 percent believed at least one of these topics is a part of the standards and 37 percent think at least three of the topics are included.
Ironically, those who claimed to know “a lot” about Common Core were even more likely to say that it included some of the uncovered topics.
A professor at Farleigh Dickinson said the widespread misconceptions about Common Core show that people are making assumptions to compensate for a lack of specific information on it.
“In the absence of information about the Common Core, Americans are projecting their own beliefs about government influence on public education on to them,” said political science professor Dan Cassino, who helped analyze the poll. “Those who think that the government is trying to indoctrinate their children with beliefs they’re opposed to think that the Common Core is the way they’re doing it.”
Even if the public lacks knowledge about Common Core, though, that doesn’t mean they’ll like it more with additional information. Respondents were asked what level of government should take the lead in shaping education standards, and they responded strongly in favor of local control. Thirty-nine percent said individual school leaders should have the most control of setting educational standards, while 21 percent chose local government, 23 percent picked state governments, and a scant 11 percent wanted the federal government to have the most control.
The poll was conducted from December 8-15, 2014, and had a sample size of 964 adults. The margin of errors is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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