April 11, 2014


Jeb Bush's Stance on Education May Not Be That Controversial (NATE SILVER, 4/11/14, 538)

 This post will look at the polling on education reform -- specifically, support for the Common Core, which Bush has championed and which sets a set of recommendations for what students should know in kindergarten through high school. We'll look at the immigration numbers in a subsequent post.

National polling on educational issues is fairly sparse. This may partly be because the federal government exerts relatively little control over education as compared with states and localities. (In 2013, the federal government represented only about 9 percent of education spending, as compared with 27 percent for states and 64 percent for local governments.)

But the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research last year conducted a poll on education that included a series of questions on the Common Core. One conclusion is that Americans don't know a whole lot about it -- only 26 percent of respondents said they'd heard a "great deal" or a "lot" about Common Core, as compared with 52 percent who said they'd heard little or nothing about it. [...] Among Republicans, 44 percent said they thought the Common Core would improve the quality of education, against 13 percent who said it would make things worse. (Another 44 percent either said they thought it would have no effect or had no opinion.) The numbers among independents and voters unaffiliated with a political party were nearly identical to the Republican figures.

Democrats were modestly more likely to be in favor of the Common Core: 57 percent said they thought it would improve educational quality as compared with 6 percent who said it would produce a decline. Still, the partisan split on this issue is mild as compared to most others.

But what about the strongest Republicans, such as those that might participate in the primaries and caucuses in some of the most conservative states?

I also split the results between "strong" and "moderate" Republicans, as respondents described themselves in the survey. Indeed, there is a divide between these groups. Among moderate Republicans, the numbers look a lot like those for Democrats: 52 percent said they thought the Common Core would improve educational quality against just 7 percent who expected a decline. "Strong" Republicans had mixed views; 29 percent said the Common Core would improve educational quality against 22 percent who said it would produce a decline.

So there is some debate within the GOP on the Common Core. But even self-described "strong" Republicans are more likely to think it improves rather than harms educational quality. And relatively few Americans of any political description have strong feelings against it.

Opposition is essentially a sign of psychosis.

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Posted by at April 11, 2014 5:49 PM

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