Chris Christie Ready to Desert Common Core Standards

BY KATE ZERNIKE

THE NEW YORK TIMES

May 29, 2015

Gov. Chris Christie said on Thursday that New Jersey could abandon Common Core education standards, changing his position as he tries to reconcile policies that he embraced as the moderate governor of a blue state with his bid to win over conservative voters in the presidential contests.

Mr. Christie, who two years ago proclaimed himself among the governors “leading the charge” for the Common Core, is widely believed to be preparing to run for president and is seeking to gain traction after the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal.

In his comments on Thursday, Mr. Christie appeared to be trying to straddle both sides of the issue, one that has become unexpectedly thorny for Republican presidential hopefuls.

While once pushed by the party as an important element of accountability in schools, the Common Core has come under increasing opposition from conservative parents who see it as another example of big government excess.

Speaking at Burlington County College, Mr. Christie called for new standards to be developed by New Jersey parents and educators, which should appeal to Republicans who have long called for local control of education.

“We must reject federal control of our education and return it to parents and teachers,” Mr. Christie said. “We need to take it out of the cubicles of Washington, D.C. where it was placed by the Obama Administration and return it to the neighborhoods of New Jersey.”

Polls show Mr. Christie losing favor among his constituents and failing to catch fire among Republican primary voters. His seeming efforts to reposition himself also include comments on immigration earlier this week, when he reversed his support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, telling Fox News that it was “an extreme way to go.”

Mr. Christie’s comments on education seemed intended primarily to distinguish himself from Jeb Bush, who has affirmed his support for the Common Core and criticized his Republican opponents for wobbling on it. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have also backed away statements they made supporting the standards.

A memo from Mr. Christie’s office to reporters argued that the governor had long expressed doubts about the Common Core.

But in 2013, he told a conference, “We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue,” and expressed support for President Obama, saying, “This is one of those areas where I have agreed more with the president than not.”

In his speech on Thursday, Mr. Christie said, “It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted, and the truth is that it’s simply not working.

“Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones,” he said. “And when we aren’t getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different.”

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