NBC/WSJ Poll Cooks Its Common Core Questions, Fabricates Claim of Strong Majority Support

Yesterday's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll garnered a great deal of attention, primarily because of its findings about President Barack Obama, particularly the one showing showing that "54 percent – believe the term-limited president is no longer able to lead the country."

The poll also asked respondents a series of three questions on the Common Core standards which were clearly designed to elicit majority support for them and to then mislead the public into believing that the opposition is a noisy, anti-Obama minority which should be ignored. Stories covering the poll at both NBC and the Wall Street Journal indicated as much.


The WSJ's subheadline told readers that "Respondents Side With Him (Obama) on ... Education." All the poll really shows is that if you present something as wonderful to a group of people who know little or nothing about it, they'll give you the answer you want.

NBC pretended that Common Core opponents represent a small minority trying to stop something a large majority of Americans truly favor, even taunting one governor who opposes them (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Take the supposedly politically charged issue of Common Core education standards (Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is seeking to end his state’s involvement with these standards). Tea Party Republicans oppose them by 53%-38% in our poll. By contrast, the country at large supports them by a pretty non-controversial 59%-31% margin, and non-Tea Party Republicans narrowly favor them, 49%-42%.

The real distinction isn't among Democrats, Republicans, and "Tea Party Republicans." It's between those who are informed about the standards, and those who aren't.

Let's look at the three questions the poll presented and their reults. Here's the first

Turning to the issue of education ...

Q25 I'd like to know how well you think our public schools are working. When it comes to education in grades K through twelve, please tell me whether you think (a) our public schools work pretty well as they are now, (b) some changes are needed, but basically they should be kept the same, (c) major changes are needed, or (d) a complete overhaul is needed.

CommonCoreNBCWSJ061814no3

So the pollsters got 61 percent of the respondents to indicate that they are unhappy with public schools. The problem is that Common Core applies to all schools, and for all practical purposes even to homeschooling arrangements. That's because the standardized tests associated with Common Core are tailored to the standards at a detailed level. This includes the notably nutty ways children are required to solve math problems (i.e., having the right answer isn't enough if you don't go through hopelessly tedious multi-step processes).

The pollsters didn't ask about satisfaction with private schools and other educational arrangements. The overall level of dissatisfaction would have been lower, and would have affected respondents' frame of mind as they dealt with the next two questions presented.

The second question tells us how informed the respondents are about Comon Core. The answer is, "not very":

Q26 Have you seen read or heard news about a new set of educational standards called Common Core? (IF YES, THEN ASK:) and have you seen read or heard a lot or just some about Common Core?

CommonCoreNBCWSJ061814no2

Almost 80 percent of respondents either don't know much about or hadn't heard of Common Core.

Excuse the bluntness, but why should we care about any opinions expressed on the issue by these people, especially the 47 percent who haven't even heard or Common Core?

NBC/WSJ had a "solution" for that. They led eveyone by the nose by parroting the party line about what Common Core supposedly is:

Q27 Just to make sure that everyone has the same information let me describe the Common Core standards in a bit more detail. The Common Core standards are a new set of education standards for English and math that have been set to internationally competitive levels and would be used in every state for students in grades K through 12.

Based on this information, do you support or oppose the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards in your state? (IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE, ASK) And, do you STRONGLY (support/oppose) or just SOMEWHAT (support/oppose) this?

CommonCoreNBCWSJ061814no1

Well, darn. Who wouldn't be for "a new set of education standards for English and math that have been set to internationally competitive levels"?

The fact that the pollsters only got to 59 percent support with a group that is almost 80 percent under-informed or uninformed is stunning. That tells me that they got almost no support from the 22 percent who say they have read and heard "a lot" about Common Core.

Of course, the published poll didn't break down the support within the informed, partially informed, and uninformed groups. Doing so would have diluted its propaganda value.

The statement NBC/WSJ used to elicit their clearly desired response is pure fiction.

The Pioneer Institute has concluded that Common Core's math standards "do not prepare students to study STEM or even be admitted to a selective four-year college." Also, in early 2013, Michelle Malkin documented about as damning an indictment of the math standards as can be imagined:

Stanford University professor James Milgram, the only mathematician on the validation panel, concluded that the Common Core math scheme would place American students two years behind their peers in other high-achieving countries. In protest, Milgram refused to sign off on the standards. He’s not alone.

As to the Language Arts standards:

Most states agreeing to adopt the Common Core English Language Arts standards may well have thought they were strengthening high school English coursework. However, the architects of Common Core’s ELA standards never claimed that their standards would do so. Rather, they claimed that these standards would make all students “college-ready.”

This extravagant promise was and remains undergirded by a belief that a heavy dose of informational or nonfiction reading (50 percent of reading instructional time in the English class at every grade level) will result in greater college readiness than a concentrated study of complex literature in the secondary English class will.

Loss of Classic Literature

Why do Common Core’s architects believe that reading more nonfiction and “informational” texts in English classes (and in other high school classes) will improve students’ college readiness?

Their belief seems to be based on what they see as the logical implication of the fact that college students read more informational than literary texts. However, there is absolutely no empirical research to suggest that college readiness is promoted by informational or nonfiction reading in high school English classes (or in mathematics and science classes).

The abandonment of classic literature creates a less commonly shared culture, and in the long run a society with a greater chance of fracturing along religious, ethnic, or racial lines. It also gives teachers who are so inclined a greater opportunity to brainwash kids with their "informational" texts.

The NBC/WSJ poll has a lot in "common" with Common Core. Each paints a shiny veneer of consensus and support onto an enterprise which is fundamentally deceptive and dishonest at its, well, core.

NBC and the Journal should be ashamed of themselves for promoting this fabricated result.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.