Poll: Republicans approve Common Core Standards amidst opposition | TheUnion.com

Poll: Republicans approve Common Core Standards amidst opposition

Republican pollster John McLaughlin of McLaughlin and Associates. (Submitted to The Union.)

Common Core Standards, the nation's newly implemented K-12 educational program, has had its share of opposition, with groups around the nation claiming the standards were planned and implemented on a federal level with no input from local educators.

While some of those groups have conservative Tea Party backing, a new national poll says that more Republican voters around the country approve of the standards than those who oppose it.

Conducted by Republican pollster John McLaughlin, the poll researched voter sentiment and challenged the prevailing political assumption that opposing Common Core Standards is a conservative Republican issue.

"Based on the relentless drumbeat of opposition coming from the political right, a Republican candidate could be forgiven for assuming conservatives don't support Common Core Standards," McLaughlin said.

“There is a broad divide between what some conservative groups are saying and what ordinary GOP primary voters believe, and support for the standards only increases among moderate and swing voters.”
Republican pollster John McLaughlin

"But, in fact, the view of Common Core among Republicans isn't nearly as clear-cut as many conservative activists think. Ordinary Republican primary voters, which far outnumber the grassroots activists, are generally very supportive of the standards."

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McLaughlin has worked with Republican heavyweights from the likes of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Fred Thompson.

McLaughlin says the national poll was conducted from April 7-13 and is based on surveys of 1,000 likely general election Republican voters.

The poll reached out to 500 GOP primary voters and 500 swing voters through online interviews and has an accuracy of +/- 3 percent.

The survey found that more than four in 10 Republican voters don't know what Common Core Standards are and that a third of GOP primary voters haven't heard or read anything about the standards.

But among voters who know what Common Core Standards are and who have read about the standards, 33 percent support them while 41 percent oppose them.

McLaughlin says the eight-point margin is small and indicates the issue isn't nearly as polarizing as some conservative activists would like to believe. Once Common Core Standards were explained to voters in neutral terms, previously uninformed voters ended up supporting the standards.

When told that Common Core Standards are "a set of standards in Math and English which state what a child should know in both subjects by the end of each grade of school they complete," support for the standards rose to 65 percent against 29 percent opposed.

Conservative primary voters support Common Core Standards by a 24-point margin, 59 percent to 35 percent, the poll shows.

According to McLaughlin, Republican primary voters said they were more likely to back a candidate who supports Common Core Standards, than one who links them to President Barack Obama's administration, by a 12-point margin. The poll also found that swing voters support Common Core Standards by a three-to-one margin, 64 percent to 23 percent.

"Republican candidates should recognize that the appeal of the standards is very strong and it cuts across party lines," McLaughlin said. "There is a broad divide between what some conservative groups are saying and what ordinary GOP primary voters believe, and support for the standards only increases among moderate and swing voters."

Last week, opponents of Common Core Standards packed the Grass Valley Elks Lodge for a town hall meeting focused on the reasons why parents should opt their children out of the standards. The event was backed by the local group Common Core Concerns.

Jan Collins organized the town hall and said that Common Core Standards are a nonpartisan issue, and that the McLaughlin poll may not be accurate because those surveyed do not have all the information about Common Core Standards.

"When people don't know all the facts, such as how much data is going to be collected on their children and their families; when people don't know that it is a top-down approach to education which is, in most cases, especially in the lower grades, that Common Core is developmentally inappropriate," Collins said. "When they don't know that governors like Mike Huckabee signed on to the Common Core before the standards were even written, then it is very difficult for the public to make a fully informed choice about whether or not they are in favor of Common Core."

National Public Radio recently reported that the McLaughlin poll was commissioned by the Collaborative for Student Success, a group that receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent millions of dollars promoting Common Core Standards.

Nevada County Republican Party representatives could not be reached for comment, but the local party recently stated that it endorses Lydia Gutierrez for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Gutierrez is a California educator who spoke out against Common Core Standards at the recent town hall, saying, "Common Core has been labeled as a standard, but it is actually an untested theory."

Last year the Republican National Committee released a resolution stating the party "does not believe in a one size fits all approach to education.

"The Republican National Committee recognizes (Common Core Standards) for what it is — an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children," the resolution states.

Grass Valley parent Sarah Hatten has been a registered Republican for more than 10 years and says that she will be opting her son out of Common Core Standards.

"On the local level, I would have to say that people are supportive of it only because they don't know about it," Hatten said. "The current superintendent of schools, in partnership with the district, didn't even tell parents that there is an opt-out opportunity. They're just assuming everyone is going to go along with it."

Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Holly Hermansen, though, said that the poll matches what her office has seen in the local community, claiming that the more people are informed about Common Core Standards, the more they support it.

"We have not heard any concerns expressed, except from the group that hosted the town hall meeting last week. We also concur with the finding that when people are informed about Common Core and what it actually is, support increases significantly," Hermansen said. "Many of our schools are currently in the process of testing students using the new Smarter Balanced Assessment and report that it is going very smoothly."

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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