Reaction to Christie’s Condemnation of Common Core

By Brenda Flanagan

“I think we should keep the Common Core. Gov. Christie’s making a big mistake by taking it away,” said Mieasha Cominski of Ewing.

Call her frustrated, like many parents who say their kids thrive on tough, new Common Core standards and curriculum taught in New Jersey classrooms. Some view with dismay Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to hit the reset button, because he says Common Core isn’t working.

It’s working for this mom’s third-grader.

“At the beginning of the school year he was struggling with, but now he’s doing pretty good. He’s averaging an A,” Cominski said.

“I feel like the governor needs to rethink his actions,” said Betty Crumidy of Hamilton. “Because my daughter’s doing well. So I take it other kids are doing well, learning and processing.”

Some teachers feel flummoxed, saying they worked hard to adopt and adapt Common Core standards and coached kids to take the controversial PARCC test this spring. Christie says PARCC testing will continue.

“We will lose significant, millions and millions and millions of dollars in federal education funding if we do not test. The commissioner of education is putting together a group of parents and teachers to review all of the standards that we had previously in the state and to suggest whether we need new ones that go beyond where we are now. But that what ever we come up with will be New Jersey based. Created by New Jersey families and New Jersey teachers. I don’t know who can object on that,” the governor said.

The union says teachers can adjust to curriculum and policy changes, but the federal Common Core standard’s only few years into its rollout and needs a track record before Christie can turns thumbs up or down.

“Either the governor’s gonna run for president or not. But he’s already made the decision. This wasn’t I’m thinking about it, I’m putting a commission together to look at it and see if we should really change. This was just boom, done,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer.

“As far as the standards, setting the right direction, the Common Core put us in a very good direction: more depth and less breadth,” said New Jersey Association of School Administrators President Brian Zychowski.

Senate Education Committee Chair Teresa Ruiz called Christie’s speech “…incredibly ambiguous. He called for a group to be assembled to conduct a ‘review’ of New Jersey’s previous state standards and to ‘consider recommending changes.’ Professionals in the classroom, administrators and superintendents deserve clear and direct guidance. This announcement created more confusion around an already complicated issue.”

“Well I think he’s trying to have it both ways,” said NJ Spotlight Education Correspondent John Mooney.

Mooney says the potential presidential candidate’s playing to conservative Republicans who dislike federal interference in local school issues.

“He’s getting a headline out of here. He’s against Common Core and that plays well among the people he wants to play well with, but he also doesn’t want to blow up the system as we have right now. And if he ended PARCC it’d cause a lot of turmoil in the schools,” Mooney said.

The governor’s commission will take its time studying the curriculum and issuing a report so teachers, parents and students shouldn’t expect big changes anytime soon.