Harvard Study: Common Core is Tanking in National Polls. Even Worse? It’s Losing the Culture War.

The “Common Core” testing standards have been a thorn in many parents’ and teachers’ sides since it burst on the scene in 2009.

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Image Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

You might remember it from these “old favorites”:

But it appears there’s good news on the Common Core front–the backers of the top-down bureaucratic program are losing the culture war.

WARMINSTER, PA - MARCH 24: (L-R) Kevin Flynn, Brooke Zumwalt and Joseph Miller, fourth grade students at Longstreth Elementary School pledge allegiance to the flag March 24, 2004 in Warminster, Pennsylvania. An atheist parent, Michael Newdow, of Sacramento, California is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court today to defend his position that the "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court upholds and expands their original ruling, which affected western states, all U.S. children will be affected. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Image Credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

The standardized testing agenda was launched out of the blue by state governors without voter input or accountability in numerous states. It was a boondoggle for many states’ education curricula, but a boon for publishing companies like Pearson.

Common Core and standardized testing in public schools are losing Americans’ support. The Heartland Institute reported on the development, which is based on a Harvard study:

Education Next, a journal published by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, found, “[T]he demise of school reform has been greatly exaggerated.”

“Public support remains as high as ever for federally mandated testing, charter schools, tax credits to support private school choice, merit pay for teachers, and teacher tenure reform,” the report states. “However, backing for the Common Core State Standards and school vouchers fell to new lows in 2016.”

The poll results, released in August, show public support for Common Core has dropped from nearly 90 percent in 2012 to 50 percent in 2016.

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 20: Kindergartners smile on their first day of school at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in the Lower 9th Ward August 20, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The school, closed since Hurricane Katrina swept through in 2005 leaving it under 14 feet of water, finally re-opened for August 13 to older students. Today was the first day for kindergarten and pre-K. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Image Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

While the percentage of Americans who support school choice remains strong, there was a slight decline for those who support universal and targeted voucher systems. Heartland noted:

“Overall public support for charters has remained quite stable since 2013,” the poll found. “In 2016 the share favoring charters is 65 percent, roughly the same as in the past four years.”

The survey also found public support for targeted and universal school vouchers has declined, and support for targeted school vouchers, those designed for a specific demographic such as low-income students, is down from 55 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2016. Public support for universal school vouchers, open to every child, declined from 56 percent two years ago to 50 percent in 2016.

Now, the best part. Common Core has a very negative brand in the mind of many Americans:

The poll reports Education Next has for years “studied public response to the name ‘Common Core’ as distinct from opinion about the general concept of uniform state standards.” To accomplish this, researchers asked one group about uniform state standards and other group about the Common Core standards.

“Differences in the responses to the two questions reveal that the Common Core ‘brand’ holds a negative connotation for many people: every year, support for using the same standards in general is higher than it is for Common Core in particular,” the survey states.

One of the strongest signs that Common Core is losing the culture comes from a very unexpected place: Hollywood. A film popular among elementary and middle schoolers that is in movie theaters now is “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”

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Image Credit: Screenshot: “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Lives,” Film Trailer

The film is based on a James Patterson book. The story details a middle school student’s quest to defeat the “evil” principal who is enforcing–get this–a standardized test. As his motto goes, “teach to the test, not the student.” Sure, it’s called the B.L.A.A.R., but anyone familiar with education knows that the writers might as well have called it Common Core.

In the movie, a heroine gives a speech about schools stifling individuality. The hero boldly makes it known that “Rules Aren’t For Everyone.” The students plot to subvert the principal’s standardized test by exposing his scheme to rig the testing results.

BERLIN - SEPTEMBER 18: A fourth-grade student looks at books in the elementary school at the John F. Kennedy Schule dual-language public school on September 18, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. The German government will host a summit on education in Germany scheduled for mid-October in Dresden. Germany has consistantly fallen behind in recent years in comparison to other European countries in the Pisa education surveys, and Education Minister Annette Schavan is pushing for an 8 percent increase in the national educaiton budget for 2009. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Image Credit:  Gallup/Getty Images

The film subtly undermines the entire concept of standardized testing with a message about the arts and individuality. And that might be one of the most effective forms of cultural subversion of them all.

As far as politics goes, Donald Trump has called Common Core a “total disaster.” Hillary Clinton has said of the program: “I have always supported national standards.”