As political leaders fight over Common Core, almost half of adults don’t know what they’re arguing about

BY Kyla Calvert  June 19, 2014 at 3:06 PM EDT

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The Common Core standards for math and English have been roiling state politics across the country this spring, especially in states led by Republicans. But a poll out this week estimates 47 percent of the country’s adults still haven’t heard of the Common Core standards.

The standards were developed by the National Governor’s Association and a coalition of state superintendents of education. States began signing on to adopt the Common Core in 2010 and, as recently as March, 46 states and the District of Columbia were still signed on to use the guidelines for what skills and information should be taught at each grade level in math and English. Common Core supporters say the guidelines are more rigorous than what many states had in place before 2010 and focus on the critical thinking and problem solving skills students will need to be ready for college and the workplace.

According to this week’s poll, after being told the new standards “have been set to internationally competitive levels and would be used in every states for students in grades K through 12,” 59 percent of respondents said they supported the idea.

Those respondents might be surprised to hear that in the last three months the Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina legislatures have voted to dump the standards and draw up new academic guidelines specific to their states. North Carolina’s state house is also working to scrap the standards and Missouri’s governor could sign a similar bill any day.

On Wednesday Gov. Bobby Jindal moved to add Louisiana to that list by issuing an executive order to drop the standards and tests developed with federal funding that go along with them. But, Louisiana’s legislature, superintendent of education and state board of education still favor the standards and say they plan to stay the course. That could leave the fate of Louisiana’s academic standards in the hands of the courts.

Jindal, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, were once strong supporters of the Common Core. But recently Jindal changed his tune, saying “the federal government would like to assert control of our educational system,” according to NOLA.com.

As that site rounds up, Jindal’s executive order has media outlets positing he’s planning a presidential run in 2016. But, according to this week’s poll, conservatives are evenly split on Common Core: 45 percent were supportive, while 46 were opposed.