Broad coalition, poll show support for Common Core

May 11, 2015

Sacramento City Unified School District students answer math questions in March. Courtesy of Children Now.

A coalition of about 500 California groups, along with a recent poll, indicate statewide support of the Common Core State Standards, the children’s advocacy group Children Now announced Monday.

The business, health, education and other groups forming the coalition signed a statement of support of the Common Core.

Previously, a Children Now poll of about 1,000 voters indicated that about two-thirds of California voters support the use of the nationally developed Common Core standards in schools. Support was particularly high among Latino, African-American and Asian voters, according to the telephone survey conducted in March and released in April.

“We really wanted to demonstrate the solid, extraordinary support of California staying on track for Common Core implementation,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now. “This shows in one list the diversity of support around the state.”

About 3 million California students are now in the middle of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are based on the Common Core standards. The standards were adopted by California in 2010 and the test is being given for the first time this spring.

Some national polls have shown Common Core opposition elsewhere. In other states, schools are reporting massive opt-outs of testing, while only a few California schools have had half or more of their students skip the assessments. Still, some groups are protesting the Common Core, holding forums and handing out opt-out forms outside of schools.

In California, the 500 supporting groups include chambers of commerce, League of Women’s Voters chapters and United Way regional groups, which focus on education.

“It is an important part of our work and it is central to what we do,” said Pete Manzo, president and chief executive officer of United Ways of California. “We see the Common Core as a positive step in that direction,”

The Children Now poll asked about voters’ general support of the Common Core by name.

Support was strongest among Latinos (82 percent), African-Americans (77 percent), Asians (75 percent) and Democrats (78 percent). The poll’s margin of error was 3.1 percentage points. The new coalition list includes the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the California NAACP.

While Common Core support was lower among white voters and Republicans, poll participants backed aspects of the Common Core when described generically. For example, about 93 percent of those polled said they support “promoting critical thinking and pro-active problem solving skills needed for a competitive job market.”

“The words Common Core are getting politicized,” Lempert said. “But if you just focus on what the updated standards are really about, there was really no controversy.”

Another recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that more than half of the parents surveyed knew nothing about the Common Core standards. Lempert said the Children Now poll also found that problem; about half of the respondents initially said they had not recently heard about Common Core.

Patty Scripter, vice president for education of the California State Parent Teacher Association, said she hears about parents who don’t understand the Common Core. But instead of widespread opposition, parents have questions about the Common Core, such as how to help their children with homework.

“We really wanted to be involved in the effort to get information to parents so they can understand why we adopted the standards,” Scripter said. “We all want our kids to be successful. We believe the updated standards will help them do that.”

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