Gov. Chris Christie Was for Common Core, Before He Was Against It
The New Jersey governor was for Common Core before he was against it.
— -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have won points with conservatives when he announced Thursday he was pulling his state out of the federal Common Core education standards, but his concerns about the program don’t appear consistent with his two-term record on the program, according to an examination of his past statements and actions.
“It's now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it's simply not working," Christie, a likely Republican presidential candidate, said during a speech Thursday at Burlington County College in Pemberton, N.J.
But Christie praised the program for years after voluntarily adopting it in 2010. “We're doing Common Core in New Jersey and we're going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I've agreed more with the president than not,” he told a Las Vegas school summit in August 2013.
During that speech, he derided members of Congress who were distancing themselves from Common Core, which was becoming increasingly unpopular with conservative activists, saying they were bowing to political pressure.
“Part of the problem in Congress right now, on both sides of the aisle, is that folks care more about their primaries than they care about anything else,” he said during the speech.
But by November of the following year, Christie himself started citing his worries about the program. “I have some real concerns about Common Core and how it's being rolled out and that's why I put a commission together to study it," he said during his monthly "Ask the Governor" radio show appearance.
Christie did set up a nine-member commission of educators, state officials and administrators in July 2014, but its goal seemed geared towards evaluating student testing, not the Common Core curriculum itself.
“The Commission is charged with reviewing and providing appropriate recommendations about the effectiveness of the volume, frequency, and impact of student testing occurring throughout New Jersey school districts,” the announcement of the commission read in part.
Plus, the group’s interim recommendations, released in January 2015, only referred to Common Core in the context of the tests that assessed students' grasp of the curriculum, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC). The commission warned PARCC, which was phased in to New Jersey schools this year, was regarded by parents and teachers as “an example of over-testing.”
But Christie has defended the implementation of the PARCC test, even as it is explicitly linked to Common Core. "This will in no way affect our efforts to continue effective testing and measurements of our students through the PARCC test,” he said during Thursday’s speech.
While less infamous on the national stage than Common Core, PARCC remains unpopular in New Jersey. A February Monmouth University poll, the most recent on the topic, found PARCC’s disapproval rating among Garden State residents on par with Common Core’s.
And the New Jersey Education Association, the state's teachers' union, told NJ.com it was “completely illogical” for Christie to eliminate Common Core and not PARCC.
“He’s saying you don’t need to teach what the test requires but we’re still going to make the kids take the test,” said Brigid Harrison, political science and law professor at Montclair State University.
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