Sunday Leftovers

From today's New York Times on a GOP forum in Iowa where the party's most conservative candidates railed against the Common Core State Standards:
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Tea Party hero, challenged attendees to demand that Republican leaders prove their conservative bona fides. “In a Republican primary, every candidate is going to say, ‘I’m the most conservative guy who ever lived,’ “ he said. “You know what? Talk is cheap.”
Rising to his own challenge, Mr. Cruz called for “the locusts” of the Environmental Protection Agency to be stifled and for padlocking the Internal Revenue Service, then redeploying its agents to secure the Southern border.
“If you said you opposed the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, show me where you stood up and fought,” he said of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. “If you said you oppose Common Core, show me where you stood up and fought.”
One of the attendees at the Iowa forum was our own Chris Christie, as he continued to back-pedal on his once stalwart support for higher standards. Here's the Governor in a NJ Spotlight piece this week on a set of public hearings on PARCC testing, the accountability instrument for the Common Core:
“What I have concerns about is the Common Core, and that is why I established this commission to examine this and come back with recommendations,” Christie said on the radio station’s “Ask the Governor” show. “I am hopeful sometime in the next 30 to 60 days to come back with some observations and recommendations.”
When asked specifically whether the recommendations could affect PARCC, Christie did not rule out further executive action: “It could affect PARCC, in that the Common Core is integrated into PARCC, so it could change the nature of the testing a little bit.”
But everything's relative. Charles Stile in The Record says that Christie's comparatively moderate stance at that GOP forum "represents a bold and significant step" for the Governor.

Today's Star-Ledger looks at the growing "opt-out of PARCC tests" movement in N.J, which finds common ground with that conservative GOP base.  Education Commissioner David Hespe says,  “The PARCC exams, unlike anything else we have ever done in the state, will provide much more robust information about your child’s education, how the schools can help them, how you as a parent can help them." Also see the Press of Atlantic City. And N.J. School Boards Association has a FAQ on PARCC.

 NJ Spotlight: "Only 25 percent of New Jersey’s teachers are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work, according to the Gallup Daily tracking survey of the teachers in the most populous U.S. states. Engaged teachers know the scope of their jobs and look for new and better ways to achieve outcomes...New Jersey ranked second-highest for “actively disengaged” after Florida."

The Trenton Public Schools is projecting a $19 million budget gap for 2015-2016. “'You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that teachers are going to lose jobs, principals are going to lose jobs, secretaries are going to lose jobs,'  said Janice Williams, the grievance chair for the Trenton Education Association." (Trenton Times)