Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Does the Common Core Have a Branding Problem?

Students at the George Buck Elementary School in Indianapolis
Students at the George Buck Elementary School in IndianapolisPhotograph by AJ Mast/AP Photo

The Common Core State Standards, a set of educational guidelines that were initially adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia to improve the college and career readiness of high school graduates, have become increasingly controversial. A new poll by Education Next, a journal published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution that supports the Common Core, suggests part of the problem may be the standards’ name. As the authors write, “The words ‘Common Core’ elicit greater antagonism than does the concept of common standards itself.”

According to the poll, 65 percent of the general public favored the standards in 2013, but just 53 percent do now. Meanwhile, the opposition has doubled, from 13 percent to 26 percent. (The share of people taking no position on the issue has remained essentially the same.) But when pollsters asked about support for the concept of common standards—without the Common Core label—68 percent of people were supportive. “Significantly, the pronounced partisan polarization evoked by the phrase Common Core disappears when the question does not include those seemingly toxic words,” write Michael Henderson, Paul Peterson, and Martin West, the professors who analyzed the results.