Christie’s ‘U-Turn’ on Common Core Draws Doubts From Grassroots

Though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) last week called for a new set of academic standards to replace the Common Core, grassroots activists in his state are pointing to aspects of his new plan that leave them skeptical about his supposed change of heart.

New Jersey grassroots parent and anti-Common Core activist Janice Lenox tells Breitbart News members of her organization – Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) – are not readily buying into Christie’s announcement that he will assemble a group of parents and teachers to consider writing new standards for the state.

“Our governor must think the voters are really stupid,” Lenox said. “Why would we need another commission to examine the standards? The study commission assembled last November was just window dressing.”

Lenox explained her group submitted several qualified professionals to sit on the commission last year, but were never notified or permitted an opportunity to participate.

“The commission in place now is led by Education Commissioner David Hespe, who walked out of a hearing during a parent’s testimony in Blackwood, New Jersey,” she continued.

“The other members never showed a bit of interest. CCSNJ was denied a meeting with Gov. Christie twice,” Lenox said. “We traveled on April 28 to deliver our hand-signed – two years’ worth – petitions from across the state, and the response was less than cordial. His aide told us that the governor gets a lot of mail, can’t guarantee that he’ll see ours. One more slap in the people’s faces.”

The Washington Post observes that Christie’s “U-turn” on Common Core comes even prior to his own commission’s report on the standards, which is due out in July.

The Post’s editorial board continues:

Apparently waiting until July doesn’t suit Mr. Christie’s political calendar. Sadly, he is not the only GOP presidential hopeful turning his back on previous support of Common Core. His fellow panderers include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. What distinguishes Mr. Christie’s betrayal is that he promotes himself as a straight talker willing to stand up for principle, no matter the consequence.

Lenox said Christie will be more believable in his newly adopted position on the standards when he announces an end to the administration of the Common Core-aligned tests.

“Bottom line is when Christie announces that the PARCC will stop – which can only survive if Common Core is in play – then we can start to believe the veracity of his words,” she said. “The citizens of New Jersey want a full repeal of Common Core and we do not want it replaced with Common Core Light.”

Lenox refers to the Partnership for the Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two federally funded interstate consortia that are developing tests aligned with the Common Core standards.

As PIX11 news reported, Matthew Hale, chair of the political science department at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, believes Christie’s change of stance is primarily political.

“Governor Christie has to assure the right-wing” that he’s “standing up to” the federal government, he said, adding that “the details” of his new policy “[he] won’t talk about.”

Both Hale and Jean McTavish, a mother and school principal who is an advocate of parents opting their children out of the Common Core-aligned tests, agree with Lenox that while Christie is calling for new standards to replace Common Core, he is not bringing an end to the PARCC assessment.

“He’s going to keep the PARCC in place,” said McTavish.

As long as the PARCC exam is in place, Christie will keep federal funding flowing for New Jersey schools, and as long as PARCC – or another test that is aligned with the Common Core standards – is in place, the state is poised to only “rebrand” Common Core so that teachers are still adhering to those standards since their students will still be assessed on a Common Core exam.

“Essentially, you’re just trying to fool your voters,” McTavish said regarding Christie’s failure to state he will eliminate the PARCC exam.

It was only several months ago that Christie joined other Republican governors who are also likely 2016 candidates in announcing his “regrets” for implementing the controversial education initiative in their states.

Conservative show host Laura Ingraham asked the governor during an interview at CPAC in February whether he had “political regrets” about Common Core.

“Implementation regrets,” he said. “Unlike other people who just get to talk about this stuff, we actually have to do it. Once you start to do it, what I’ve seen — the concerns that I have are significant — and I set a commission up that is now coming back to me with some recommendations, but my charge to them is that we have to keep government at the local level.”

Christie said he signed his state’s Race to the Top application for federal funds in exchange for adopting the Common Core standards because his state needed the money, an admission many other governors are likely hesitant to make in light of the huge outcry from parents across the country against the standards and their associated testing and data collection.

In 2013, Christie was still fully wedded to the Common Core standards, as NJ Spotlight reported.

“We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue,” Christie said then. “And this is one of those areas where I have agreed more with the President than not.”

“I think part of the Republican opposition you see in some corners in Congress is a reaction,” the governor continued, “that knee-jerk reaction that is happening in Washington right now, that if the president likes something, the Republicans in Congress don’t. If the Republicans in Congress like something, the president doesn’t.”


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