How Low Can He Go? Christie and the Common Core

Just when you thought it was safe to maintain your level of cynicism about politics, news sources are reporting today (NJ Spotlight, Star-Ledger, Wall Street Journal) that Gov. Christie is threatening to back off of his once-stalwart support of the Common Core State Standards.

Christie is scheduled to give a policy speech tonight at Burlington County Community College and insiders say that he will call for state-specific standards, instead of the set designed, well, by states, in order to placate the ultra-conservative wing of the GOP.  As such, he will recommend that New Jersey rebut a national consensus that all students, regardless of state of residence, should have access to similarly-rigorous educational standards.  Desperate for even a microscopic hint of momentum, Christie appears ready to kowtow to the likes of Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin and suggest that N.J. abandon math and reading standards that are superior to N.J.’s former school standards.

(What's next? Recommending that schools give equal time to creationism? Ah, but conscience doth make cynics of us all.)

The Common Core has what the Wall St. Journal calls “strong support” among the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. In other words, the standards are supported by anyone who knows anything about education and privileges student achievement over political survival.

Let’s think about this.  In 2010 the State Legislature adopted the Common Core State Standards. In 2011 New Jersey’s 590 school districts and 2,500 schools began the complex process of adapting course objectives to align with the Common Core. The task is complete.

If we take the Governor’s advice and abandon the Common Core, then N.J. would have one of two choices: either revert to inferior standards, which would require school administrators and teachers to dig out  discarded material and remap curricula, or convene some coven of Christie-ites to start the expensive and time-consuming process of reinventing course standards that, if done properly, would mirror the Common Core.

Here’s a suggestion.  Leave the Common Core alone and spare students, teachers, principals, school board members, superintendents, legislators, and taxpayers from this shell game. Rename the standards the NEW JERSEY Common Core State Standards. Or, heck, how about the Christie Core State Standards. Christie-Core! That way, Governor, you get a talking point if you garner enough polling points to earn a podium at the GOP debates and the eroding faith of New Jersey in the political process stays at sea level.

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