With his home-state approval numbers at a low ebb and the field of Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination expanding on a near-daily basis, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has to keep himself in the game somehow. His latest gambit: Flip-flopping on the hot-button topic of the Common Core educational curriculum.
In remarks prepared for delivery at Burlington County College in Pemberton, N.J., on Thursday, Christie abandoned the program that he once supported, casting his change of heart as simple recognition that Common Core isn’t working.
“I have heard from far too many people – teachers and parents from across the state – that the Common Core standards were not developed by New Jersey educators and parents,” the speech said. “As a result, the buy-in from both communities has not been what we need for maximum achievement. I agree. It is time to have standards that are even higher and come directly from our communities.
“And, in my view, this new era can be even greater by adopting new standards right here in New Jersey – not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.”
The Common Core standards in mathematics and English literacy, as any advocate will tell you, were not developed by the federal government, as Christie insinuated, but by the states themselves. The standards for high school students were spearheaded, in fact, by the National Governors Association, of which he is a member, and adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia.
“It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted,” Christie was expected to say. “And the truth is that it’s simply not working. It has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents. …Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones. And when we aren’t getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different.”
It’s quite a switch for Christie, who in 2010 bucked many of his party’s more conservative members to back the adoption of Common Core in his state. However, in the interim, the Obama administration increased the incentives it has created for states to adopt Common Core, further alienating the conservative right wing, which Christie will need to secure the GOP nomination.
Christie’s claim of a federal takeover of the program is difficult to justify, but it’s the fig leaf he’s using to avoid the dreaded flip-flop charge.
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