The combined Left-Right opposition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has drawn considerable media attention. But the uproar has been offset by the wide coalition supporting them – from business and education reform interests to the two national teachers’ unions.
The National Education Association intensified its backing last fall with the results of a poll and focus group of 1,200 members conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The union proudly noted that “more than 75 percent of NEA members either support the standards wholeheartedly or with some reservations.”
The breakdown of the findings was 26% in wholehearted support, 50% in support with reservations, 13% without an opinion, and only 11% opposed.
Even while NEA was touting these figures it was conducting a wider web survey, encompassing almost 17,000 members in 33 states. The results of that survey showed a worrisome trend for the union and for Common Core supporters in general.
Support for the standards fell only slightly, down to 71%. Opposition, however, solidified to almost triple the previous number. A full 29% of NEA members do not support CCSS.
NEA’s response to this will be a more expansive version of what we have already seen. Since February, the party line has been to support the standards while denouncing their implementation as “botched.” NEA took this position despite the 2013 poll also declaring that “79 percent of respondents said they were well or somewhat prepared to implement the new standards” and that “44 percent said teachers were playing a major role in the implementation of the standards. 32 percent said teachers were being consulted.”
We can expect the union to more specifically criticize an overabundance of standardized testing associated with CCSS and especially its use as a means of teacher evaluation.
NEA wants to be the Common Core champion while washing its hands of the accountability provisions established in Common Core’s name. If it were just a tricky PR problem, the union might be able to pull it off. But if the opposition continues to grow at its current pace, NEA will start abandoning CCSS, and lay the blame on the usual suspects.