Tag Archive: Common Core

He is still our governor, isn’t he?

So when is the last time Christie took a public position or action on New Jersey governance? It’s been a while. He is busy flailing his way through a losing campaign, acting in desperation mode, and ignoring his New Jersey duties.

Yesterday’s Monmouth University poll in New Hampshire, a “make or break” primary, places him tied in 9th position (2%). Real Clear Politics has him in 11th place (2.3%) in South Carolina, 13th (1.5%) in Iowa, and in national polls at 11th (2.0%). In 2013 in July, August, and September he was leading in the national Republican nomination polls and by December he was at 20%, above the nine other potential contenders. Since then it has all been downhill to 2.2%.

His desperation on the campaign trail is increasingly apparent. In New Hampshire he now takes sole credit for keeping the 2nd Amendment alive in NJ, although his position on gun control in the past has been more moderate. He says about President Obama, “He looked right in that camera and lied to the American people [about Iran].” He boasted that if elected he would track immigrants like FedEx packages. To satisfy voracious conservative primary voters he has also dished out red meat on planned parenthood, common core, teacher unions, marijuana, taxes, and more. All desperate political blather, flip-flopping and posturing.    

Christie faces a rocky return to NJ

Our editor Rosi Efthim said about Gov. Christie, “Despite his protestations to the contrary, he has no moral and ethical core. It makes shifts in positioning look facile.” Nonetheless, soon he will return to NJ, at least for while. A Monmouth poll found his job rating stands at 36% approve to 58% disapprove. Even Republican office holders are distancing themselves from Christie including Assemblyman Sam Fiocci (R-1), and Cumberland County Freeholder Jim Sauro who said, “Don’t start blaming us for his issues.” So Christie will come back to face a host of unresolved matters and ill-will from many quarters with baggage that contradicts what he previously said, exposes his lack of an ethical core, makes it hard for him to explain his flip-flops, and difficult to govern.

Below is a sampling on such subjects as Planned Parenthood, marijuana, immigration, common core, teacher pensions, guns, taxes & budget:

  • Planned Parenthood – Each time he vetoed their funding he said the reason was that “costs were duplicative and the State could not afford it.” A few months ago he said “I’m pro-life, – the first governor to ever speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the Statehouse,” and boasted that he “vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times” to much applause. In South Carolina he vowed to defund Planned Parenthood nationally if elected.

  • Common Core – Flip-flopping his way, he once was a vocal proponent of the standards but on the campaign trail has said Common Core is simply not working.” He is now hiding behind an appointed study commission.

  • Teachers’ pension – While in 2009 he claimed he would protect their pension, he has failed to contribute the agreed upon amounts. In New Hampshire he asserted the nation’s teachers unions need a “punch in the face.”

  • Guns – Moving to the right from his 2009 position, he recently affirmed his opposition of new gun control laws in an interview on CNBC. A bipartisan bill (A4218), languishing on his desk, would give NJ courts and police greater authority to enforce current state gun laws, but so far Christie has refused to say whether he will sign or veto it. In Iowa he ripped into a gun rights activist.

  • Confirmed: Education Policy Is Entirely Political for @GovChristie

    Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

    Chris Christie, 2013 [all emphases mine]:

    “We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I have agreed more with the President than not. And with Secretary Duncan,” Christie said at 2013 conference for KIPP Public Charter Schools. And he hasn’t been shy about criticizing others in his party for opposing the standard. “I think part of the Republican opposition you see in some corners in Congress is a reaction, that knee-jerk reaction that is happening in Washington right now, that if the president likes something the Republicans in Congress don’t. If the Republicans in Congress like something, the president doesn’t.”

    Chris Christie, May 28, 2015:

    The governor, speaking at Burlington County College in Pemberton, declared Common Core is “simply not working.” Christie wants to assemble a team to develop a state-based group to develop “new standards right here in New Jersey, not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.”

    The speech is Christie’s first policy speech delivered in New Jersey and his fourth such speech since taking concrete steps toward a presidential campaign. The first three speeches – which included topics such as national security and economic growth – were given in the early presidential voting state of New Hampshire.

    “It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted and the truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie said.

    “It has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents and has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work,”
    he said. “Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones.”

    Our “straight-shooting” Governor who “tells it like it is”

    Imagine my shock this week to learn that Christie on numerous instances in the past was not a straight-shooter or that what he is saying now is not like it is. Matt Katz pointed out that over the past years Christie said the reason why he vetoed funding for family planning clinics was because “it was duplicative and the state couldn’t afford it”. At CPAC he changed his story: “I’m pro-life, I spoke at the pro-life rally on the steps of the Statehouse and vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget.” Now we know we were being misled.  

    I am shocked, shocked, shocked.  And saddened to realize he was not telling it like it is. Below are few other examples:

    Diminishing teacher benefits: Gail Collins reports an oft told tale: When he first ran for governor, Christie sent out an “Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ” denouncing rumors that he might “attempt to diminish or take away teachers’ pensions and benefits.” So much for straight-shooting.

    Local school control: On his favorite radio program this week he said, “We need to have local control, parents, and teachers in those classrooms.” Tell that to Newark and the other school districts under state control.

    Transportation: Another statement this week: It’s not a crisis at the moment, because we’re funded pretty well now.” Is this “telling it like it is”?

    Pension Commission/NJEA: At his budget address Christie said, “The Commission, with my support, has reached an unprecedented accord with the NJEA on a ‘Roadmap for Reform'” – not exactly what NJEA says.

    Common Core: Until 2013 as Bob Mooney points out, Common Core State Standards had his “full support,” which then evolved to “serious concerns,” and now to “implementation regrets.” Will the real Chris Christie please stand up.  

    Our straight-shooting Governor who tells it like it is

    Imagine my shock this week to learn that Christie on numerous instances in the past was not a “straight shooter” or that what he is saying now is not “like it is.” Matt Katz pointed out that over the past years Christie said, the reason why he vetoed funding for family planning clinics was because “it was duplicative and the state couldn’t afford it.” At CPAC he changed his story: “I’m pro-life, I spoke at the pro-life rally on the steps of the Statehouse and vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget.” Now we know.

    I am shocked, shocked, shocked.  And saddened to have been so misled. Below are few other examples:

    Diminishing teacher benefits: Gail Collins reports an oft told tale: When he first ran for governor, Christie sent out an “Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ” denouncing rumors that he might “attempt to diminish or take away teachers’ pensions and benefits.” So much for straight-shooting.

    Local school control: On his favorite radio program this week he said, “We need to have local control, parents, and teachers in those classrooms.” Tell that to Newark and the school districts under state control.

    Transportation: Another statement this week: “It’s not a crisis at the moment, because we’re funded pretty well now.” Is this “telling it like it is?”

    Pension Commission/NJEA: At his budget address Christie said, The Commission, with my support, has reached an unprecedented accord with the NJEA on a “Roadmap for Reform” – not exactly what NJEA says.

    Common Core Until 2013 as Bob Mooney points out, Common Core State Standards had his “full support,” which then evolved to “serious concerns” and now to “implementation regrets.” Will the real Chris Christie please stand up.  

    The Education Reform Tsunami Has Left Destruction in its Wake

    It’s been about five years now, more or less. Five years of this so-called “Educational Reform Movement,” spearheaded by self-proclaimed “mavericks” like former D.C. School Superintendent Michelle Rhee and now embraced by a host of her destructive admirers like Newark’s Cami Anderson, entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and others. These ‘reformists’ eagerly tore up decades – even centuries – of bedrock educational values and practices to embrace new ones. The promise was no less of a revolution, a ‘total transformation’ if you like. If we followed their advice and were willing to absorb the painful changes they recommended, our public schools, regardless of geographical or socio-economic setting, would be transformed. Gone would be the tired school model of old, with its emphasis on teacher-centered learning, student accountability and lecture. Replacing it would be a dynamic new model, consumer-driven, student centered, administratively powered…and it would produce the equivalent to an educational Heaven on earth. From it would emerge brilliant, creative, confident students, eager to engage in debate and Socratic dialogue, ready for day one at the best colleges and universities in the world.

    It didn’t happen.

    The reformers’ call for change varied by region, but their core beliefs were wrapped up in a few common concepts. Teacher tenure or any related form of institutional job security was to go. New evaluative tools for teachers would no longer take their content knowledge, style or experience into consideration; now the focus would be on how students responded to them. Every moment of every day was to be documented, quantified, reviewed and revised in a torrent of new paperwork floating between teachers and their administrators. And in the end, from teacher jobs to the very existence of any particular school as an institution, high stakes testing would determine all. Community building, intellectual curiosity, and the love for learning were out; fear, disruption, testing and constant contention were in. Again, reformers said that it would be messy, and it was, but as time marched on America’s students would emerge sharp, competitive, ready to work in today’s global knowledge-based economy.

    Not happening.

    And what is most curious are the studies. Educators, reformists and their opponents, love to point out studies. Studies come to all sorts of conclusions, and to be fair, it’s not difficult to find one or two that seemed almost predestined to back a specific design or approach. But what studies have not shown, what there is no evidence of, is this massive shift, this dramatic change in temperature, which was promised. Not one. In some districts test scores are a bit higher; in others, lower. But nothing revolutionary. Zilch. This reformist tsunami, like its real-world equivalent, produced a dramatic wave but left only destruction in its wake.

    Believe me, I want to be proven wrong on this important point. I want to see some real, dramatic evidence that the disruptive changes implemented in our public schools did indeed produce revolutionary, seismic results. But there are none. Not a single ‘super school’ has emerged from this movement; in fact, what we’re seeing in places as different as the urban district of Newark to the rural districts of Central Florida is much of the same: careers wrecked, schools disrupted, students bewildered and institutions stripped of community spirit and memory. Insecurity, fear and fury now emanate from parents, teachers and students. Boards of education meetings have been transformed into shouting matches. Don’t take my word for it; even the ‘great reformer,” of Chris Christie, Cami Anderson, no longer bothers to attend any community-based meetings in Newark. Even she knows that her ideas are so absolutely bankrupt, so steeped in failure that she avoids any forum where she might face the very public she claims to serve.  

    So why has this movement failed? Why has it wreaked complete havoc on our public schools with little indication of groundbreaking, progressive results? There are a great many reasons, but first and foremost is the flawed reformist belief that somehow schools can be magically separated from the communities that produce them. Reformists tell us that larger, complex issues such as poverty, unemployment, child neglect and abuse, crime, lack of technological access, child nutrition and student society can somehow be conveniently divorced from the day-to-day operations of any school and classroom. They stipulate that a single teacher can be held exclusively responsible for months and months of student academic outcomes, and that somehow the communities and families that produce them bear little or none.

    Okay, so perhaps you’re thinking, if I’m so smart, if I’m so confident that the reformist approach to modern public education is so destructive, then what works? What is the magic formula that will indeed allow us to convert our students, every single one of them, whether they attend school in leafy Livingston or in the extremely mean streets of Camden into competitive Princeton applicants?  

    I need time to ruminate on that one, but I think I have an idea. I’ll follow that up in my next blog.  

    Christie’s Testing Executive Order: A Round-Up of Opinions

    On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie issued an executive order that changed how teacher evaluations are tied to test scores.

    Non-eduwonks may be wondering what the fuss is all about; believe me, it’s actually a pretty big deal, and it has consequences for both state politics and Christie’s impending national campaign. Here’s a rundown of writing about this from local bloggers and other sources:

    NJ Spotlight gives the basics: Christie is decreasing the percentage that test scores count for in a teacher’s evaluation, and establishing a commission to look at the new tests linked to the Common Core. The order effectively kills a bill that had passed the Assembly that would have delayed any high-stakes decisions made based on the tests for two years.

    Given how other conservative governors have backed away entirely from these tests, this is actually a cautious response from our governor. Already, the far right is not happy with him. Contrast that to the reaction of the NJEA:

    Reformy Billionaires and the Money They Waste

    Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

    Perhaps my favorite bad reformy argument — one favored by Tom Moran, among others — goes something like this:

    We should listen to billionaires when they opine about education because:

    1) Well, they’re billionaires, so they must know what they’re talking about.

    2) They don’t have a direct stake in the outcome, so you can trust them.

    I often harp on the absurdity of Point #2: even though a plutocrat may not have a direct stake in making public education more like corporate American, their reformy crusades certainly match their ideological predilections. And ancillary benefits like New Markets Tax Credits and union busting are happy little bonuses.

    But I don’t often talk about Point #1. Watching the implosion of the Common Core is a great example: Bill Gates poured millions into its development and marketing, but it’s clear he really didn’t understand what he was getting himself into. I don’t think anyone, if they are being honest with themselves (and that includes Bill), would think that Gates is any sort of an expert in any field of education.  

    Happy Teacher Appreciation Week: Delirium at the State BOE Meeting Part 1!

    Promoted by Rosi. Cross-posted from Marie Corfield.

    Today was open topic day at the NJ State BOE, which means anyone can testify about any education topic. The board has their regular meeting in the morning, then public testimony in the afternoon. Due to NJASK testing, there was a small contingent of NJEA members present along with concerned parents and citizens.

    It started with a resolution to recognize May 2014 as Physical Education and Sport Month. A physical education teacher gave a brief presentation on the topic. Forgive me for not knowing her name, but she’s a firecracker. She’s been teaching close to 50 years. I met her at a previous BOE meeting and she’s the epitome of a career educator: fiercely passionate, knowledgeable, inspiring and uplifting. During her presentation she reminded the board that even though NJ is one of the top states in PE in the nation, because of budget cuts and increased demands of standardized testing, many districts are not fulfilling the mandated 150 minutes of PE per week. Board president Arcelio Aponte told her to mention this to acting Education Commissioner David Hespe. (More on this in tomorrow’s post.) She then got the entire room up and doing an ‘brain break’-type activity, wherein Aponte laughingly admitted that he’d lost control of the meeting. Leave it to a teacher to take control.