Poll: California Voters Losing Faith in Common Core

A new poll suggests California voters are losing enthusiasm for the Common Core State Standards.

The annual PACE/USC Rossier School of Education poll queried more than 1,000 Californians to gauge their views on a number of key issues, including the recent Vergara vs. California teacher tenure ruling and the job performance of state and national policymakers. Among the highlights:

  • California voters aren't sold on the Common Core, which sets expectations for deeper learning by grade level: 32 percent of respondents supported the implementation, with 42 percent opposed. That's a reversal from last year's poll, when the majority supported implementation.
  • Voters over 65 were the most likely to oppose the Common Core, and Republicans were more likely to have negative perceptions of the standards than Democrats.
  • More than 60 percent of poll respondents supported using public money to make preschool available to children from low-income families. But when asked if they would approve of a small tax increase to fund such programs, support dropped to 41 percent.
  • After California's teacher tenure law was explained to them, 61 percent of respondents agreed with a statement opposing it on the grounds that "it makes it extremely difficult to fire poorly performing teachers, so that many California schoolchildren, particularly those in economically challenged school districts, get stuck with poor teachers year after year."
  • Six out of 10 poll respondents had little or no familiarity with the recent Vergara vs. California court case, in which a judge ruled that teacher tenure violated the state constitution. However, of the respondents who were familiar with the case, 62 percent supported the judge's decision.

"In a strongly Democratic state that has seen relatively few implementation issues, this points to a real messaging problem for advocates of the Common Core," Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the USC Rossier School, said in a statement.

It's been a rocky month for Common Core supporters, with the governors of two states -- South Carolina and Oklahoma -- signing legislation to repeal adoption of the standards. They followed Indiana, which dropped out in March of this year.

And while the PACE/Rossier findings might suggest shifting support among California voters, it's important to remember that polls represent a snapshot, and not definitive Litmus test of public opinion. Two other recent national polls asked voters about the Common Core, with the Gallup Poll finding support among parents was increasing, while the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reported support is slipping. And a survey of the nation's teachers by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found educator enthusiasm for the Common Core was highest in states that were furthest along in the implementation.

As for the controversial Vergara decision, it is already having repercussions far beyond the Golden State: A new national advocacy group, started by cable news anchor Campbell Brown, is preparing similar lawsuits in other states, and intends to start with New York. The group's public relations will be handled by Robert Gibbs, former press secretary for the Obama administration.

In case you're keeping track: Teachers' unions are joining conservatives in pushing back against the Common Core, while Democrats are calling for watered down teacher tenure rules.