Friedman Foundation -

In America’s public policy arena, Common Core debates box out practically every other type of policy discussion on K-12 education. This post sets out to address some basic questions about Common Core’s hardcore supporters and opponents. Who are they? Do these polarized groups have different backgrounds and perspectives? Where do the two groups stand on other topics in K-12 education and school choice?

Increasingly, governors and state lawmakers are being pressured to make public statements for or against Common Core. Other public leaders, commentators, and scholars—U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Randi Weingarten, Diane Ravitch, David Coleman, E.D Hirsch, Checker Finn, Anthony Cody, and Jay Greene.
Last year more than 70 business leaders placed a full page open letter in the New York Timessupporting the Common Core. Months later, more than 100 Catholic scholars signed an open letter opposing the initiative.

Even pop culture icons are weighing in. As a recent POLITICO story documented, the list of celebrities sharing views on Common Core is longer than one might guess: there’s Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert, Matt Damon, Eva Longoria, Maya Angelou, Isaiah Thomas, John Legend, and most recently, Glenn Beck.

But where do ordinary Americans stand on Common Core? Are their opinions as intense as the sensational examples reported in the media? How do the strong supporters and strong opponents distinguish themselves from each other?

Based on the Friedman Foundation’s recent “Schooling in America Survey,” the early evidence indicates that Common Core’s hardened factions—whom I’ve called Champions and Dissidents—appear to separate themselves on at least three worldviews relating to K-12 education:

1. the direction of K-12 education in the country,

2. federal government performance in K-12 education, and

3. standardized testing.

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