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Poll: Utahns oppose Common Core but don't know what it is

Published August 26, 2014 11:58 am

Education • Many mistakenly believe the standards were forced by federal government.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

More Utahns oppose than support new Common Core academic standards — but many also don't understand them, according to the results of a new UtahPolicy.com poll.

The poll, conducted by Dan Jones and Associates this month, shows that 41 percent of 408 likely voters surveyed said they somewhat or strongly oppose the standards.

That's compared with 29 percent who said they support the standards, and the rest were either neutral or didn't know.

That same poll, however, also shows that 29 percent of those polled mistakenly believe that the standards were "forced on Utah by the federal government."

Only 21 percent correctly identified the Common Core as "voluntary standards the Utah State Board of Education has adopted, first put forward by state governors and education experts."

The rest either didn't know the origins of the standards or incorrectly believed they were developed by Utah education leaders or put forward by the feds.

The standards describe the skills students should know in math and language arts in each grade to be ready for college and careers. Curriculum — or how the standards are taught — remain up to local schools and teachers. The standards have already been implemented in Utah schools.

Sydnee Dickson, interim state deputy superintendent, said the poll results aren't surprising.

"It's really in line with what we've been discovering, in that most who oppose the core are concerned about things other than the actual standards," Dickson said. "There's been a lot of social media out there, a lot of misinformation that just continues to get pushed around from place to place."

She said the State Office of Education has already put out a lot of information about the standards but could work with local schools and districts to do a better job of spreading the word.

But Oak Norton, with the group Utahns Against Common Core, blames state education officials for creating the misunderstanding.

"They have not been completely forthright about the process," he said.

He said state officials have not talked about how money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped fund the Common Core effort.

He also said that though the standards were not directly forced upon the states by the federal government, President Barack Obama "bribed" them into adopting the standards.

States were encouraged to adopt the standards as they applied for federal Race to the Top dollars. Utah applied for that money but did not receive it.

The poll results are similar to those released earlier this month as part of a 2014 Phi Delta Kappa International/Gallup poll. That poll showed that 60 percent of Americans surveyed said they oppose the Common Core. But of those who opposed them, 62 percent said a very important or somewhat important reason was because the federal government initiated them — which it did not.