Whiteboard Advisors, a consulting firm that specializes in school policy, recently conducted one of its monthly surveys of 50 to 75 anonymous political and policy "insiders," including current and former senior staff from the U.S. Department of Education, White House, Congress and think tanks. Respondents were asked to weigh in on the Democratic and Republican National conventions, as well as the ongoing presidential campaign.
Although the vast majority of insiders are not convinced the Democratic and Republican platforms will have any real effect on education policy, 78 percent believe the inclusion of the Common Core standards in the Democratic platform will have a negative impact on linking federal policy and state cooperation — something that is necessary in order to enact the standards.
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is on the wrong track, and nearly one-third had the same thing to say about the PARCC consortium. The two state-based consortia are in the process of developing standardized tests that align with the Common Core. According to the survey, both consortia earned slightly higher marks in September compared to August, but skepticism remains. In July, 85 percent of respondents signaled that PARCC is on the "right track,” but confidence has since declined. Meanwhile, Smarter Balanced has yet to break the “right track” threshold.
Stakeholder support for the Common Core remains largely unchanged, despite reported hiccups like Utah’s withdrawal from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Disapproval of Congress’ handling of education remains high at 96 percent, while disapproval of the Obama Administration’s handling of education-related issues now stands at 54 percent.
Regarding the political conventions earlier this month, 91 percent of those who watched former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s speech at the Republican National Convention thought it was the best one on education by far — at either convention. Insiders were not impressed by other speeches at either convention.
Respondents who viewed the Democratic National Convention speeches were more divided, but a plurality favored former President Bill Clinton’s message, according to the survey. In general, those surveyed consider Clinton and Jeb Bush more effective messengers when it comes to education than those whose names will appear on the presidential ballot come November.
Overall, about two-thirds of those surveyed indicated Democrats delivered a more compelling message about education at their convention.