Chris Christie and Common Core

A little alliteration for your Thursday evening.

The big news today was NJ Governor Chris Christie announcing that he’s going to pull the state out of Common Core (but apparently keep the state in PARCC, for now?). This is a relatively big deal, as Common Core opponents have generally been extremely unsuccessful to date in getting states to repeal the standards despite tepid popular support and huge partisan gaps. NJ.com has a nice summary of Christie’s “evolution” on the issue. A few thoughts about this announcement.

1) There are basically three options here. First, Christie was lying when he said he supported the standards initially. Second, Christie is lying now and is pandering to the base because he’s desperate to do something to boost his presidential hopes. Or third, Christie was telling the truth at both time points and has actually evolved to oppose the Common Core due to implementation problems in the state. If you follow me on Twitter, you can guess which of these I think is most likely. It’s certainly possible he’s evolved on the issue, though I don’t see anything in New Jersey’s implementation that’s particularly bad in the national scheme of things (someone correct me if I’m wrong).

2) Chris Christie has no chance of being the Republican nominee for president. None. Zero. For that matter, neither does the other most prominent Common Core turncoat, Bobby Jindal. Christie’s way too liberal, and he’s pissed off the Republican base too many times. This move doesn’t change that, though I view this (as Paul Bruno does) as basically a Hail Mary shot.

3) I suspect the outcome of this will be a set of standards that looks an awful lot like the Common Core, as it has been in the other states that have gone through this song and dance. So it’s a lot of sound and fury that, in the end, probably signifies nothing.

4) I’m sure some educators in New Jersey are thrilled right now. But moves like this simply emphasize the (widely held and largely true) belief among educators that, when it comes to policy “this too shall pass.” Certainly in the short term moves like that might result in new and different/better standards. But in the long term, the more teachers invest in a policy only to get jerked around, the more they’ll ignore policy altogether. And that’s not good for anyone (at least anyone who believes policy might play a role in improving outcomes for kids).

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