More than half of California voters said they knew nothing or very little about the state’s new Common Core standards for English language arts and math, according to a newly released report by the Policy Analysis for California Education/USC Rossier School of Education.
The results are not particularly unexpected, according to Morgan Polikoff, one of the report’s authors, because voters are typically ill informed on policy issues.
Still, it is unfortunate that so many Californians are uninformed about the new education standards, said Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the USC Rossier School of Education. “Four years into adoption of such an important policy, there seems to be little awareness.”
That so many California voters are ignorant about the Common Core State Standards means that propaganda against the Common Core can circulate more freely, because there isn’t much out there to counter it, Polikoff said.
For voters to find out about Common Core, they have to do most of the legwork. California Department of Education spokesperson Pam Slater said there are no state funds set aside for advertising about the Common Core. But Slater added that the state department of education’s website provides detailed information about the standards.
Perhaps not surprisingly, of the 1,005 voters surveyed in California, those who said they were knowledgeable about the Common Core were most likely to be parents of school-aged children.
And learning more about the standards does not mean that voters support them. The PACE/USC Rossier survey found that more Californians were opposed to the Common Core than are in favor of the standards.
The 44 percent of California voters who said they were knowledgeable about the Common Core said they had “somewhat” or “very negative” attitudes toward the standards. The report’s authors presented voters with what they think of as a compilation of the most prominent arguments for and against the Common Core, according to Polikoff.
As is the case with national polls asking about the Common Core, the PACE/USC Rossier survey found a split along political party lines. More Democrats supported than opposed the standards, with 47 percent supporting the Common Core and 34 percent opposed to them. Among Republicans, the opposite was true: Only 30 percent said they support the Common Core while 56 percent said they oppose it.
There was also a generational divide. Younger people were more in favor of Common Core than older Californians, an age split that runs across many social and economic issues, from marijuana and same-sex marriage to opinions about health care and taxes, according to Polikoff.
PACE/USC Rossier queried California voters about their knowledge of the new Common Core Standards last year, too. Eighteen percent more voters this year said they were aware of the Common Core. But, the report concluded that Californians attitudes about the Common Core have “become increasingly negative.”
Shelly Masur, executive director of the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, an organization that provides materials about the Common Core to California schools, said the surveys may not go deep enough to see what people know about the Common Core.
“If people can actually read the standards,” Masur said, “they have a more positive attitude about them.”
The survey, conducted June 19-22, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
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