Both Rubio and Christie’s Common Core Records Need Work

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) went after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Common Core during Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate on the Fox Business Network.

Rubio went through a litany of items that painted Christie as a progressive, one of which was his support for Common Core. Christie has waffled on Common Core. The Pulse 2016 gave Christie a D+ on their scorecard. They wrote:

Chris Christie has had a varied history with the Common Core.

In 2013 he was quoted as saying, “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I’ve agreed more with the President than not.”

By 2014, Christie had changed his tune: “I have some real concerns about Common Core and how it’s being rolled out and that’s why I put a commission together to study it.”

In early 2015, Christie had again taken a newly evolved position as he said, “I have grave concerns about the way this is being done, and especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement it through tying federal funding to these things.”

During his appearance at CPAC, Christie told Laura Ingraham that he had regrets related to the implementation of the Common Core, but shortly after, he urged parents not to opt their children out of the Common Core-aligned PARCC tests.

More recently, Christie has pledged to do away with the Common Core in New Jersey; however, he has also stated that the state will retain the PARCC test, which assesses student performance based on the Common Core Standards.

In late April, Christie elaborated on his initial support for the Common Core, stating: “We signed on to try to get funds during a really difficult fiscal time.”  Apparently, his decision to stick with the PARCC test, despite calls from parents and teachers to abandon it, was also based on the procurement of federal funding (read more).

Instead of getting rid of Common Core in New Jersey they are rebranding it. called him on the carpet for his claim New Jersey eliminated it.

The panel of educators and parents Christie ordered to review the standards recommended keeping 84 percent of New Jersey’s existing math and reading standards intact and suggested tweaks and clarifications to the remaining standards.

A side-by-side comparison of the current math standards and proposed changes shows several suggestions involve simply changing or adding a word to the standard’s description. Though state education officials said the changes mark a departure from Common Core, New Jersey’s largest teachers union characterized the suggestions as “relatively minor.”

Those proposed changes still have to be approved by the state Board of Education and wouldn’t take effect until the 2017-18 school year, according to state officials.

So not only are they just rebranding it, but it’s still in effect.

Turning to Christie’s accuser…. Rubio is hardly the guy who should be criticizing Christie on education policy. The Pulse 2016 gave Rubio a C. A grade of C on this score card means “has neither helped nor hurt the cause.”

So his credibility is lacking.

Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project writing at The Pulse explains Rubio’s grade.  He says Rubio’s concern about what Common Core may theoretically do misses the point.

Rubio’s answer ignores the immediate most pressing concern of parents, grandparents, and teachers. It gives short shrift to the parents who have been fighting this. We fight it primarily because of what the federal government has done to our children—not because of what it might theoretically do.

Another problem with Rubio’s answer is that it skirts around the nexus between the poor quality of the Common Core and federal involvement. In late 2008, private groups convinced the incoming Obama Administration to push the standards into the states with a carrot-and-stick approach. Those private groups then drafted the Common Core standards in response to the ensuing federal grants. They drafted the standards on the premise that they would be a monopoly. They did not draft them on the premise that the standards would have to pass parental muster or would have to be better than world-class standards like the old Massachusetts standards. Rubio skirted these all-important issues by casting the problem as potential rather than presently existing.

Rubio’s official website does not specifically address the issue of Common Core. However, it does states that in order to prepare people to “seize their opportunities in the new economy,” high schools should graduate more students “ready to work.” It is hard to parse from this general statement what the education policies would look like under a Rubio Administration. What does Rubio believe would validate a student as “work ready”? Would it be the further alignment of our K-12 education system to the projected demands of specific sectors of the economy to train workers for favored big-businesses, which would mean more of the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed Common Core? Or, does it mean aligning education to the demands of parents and the local community as a whole, which would mean more local control? It would behoove Senator Rubio to answer these questions and to discuss the qualitative aspects of the Common Core and whether he believes the federal involvement helped, or hurt, the quality of the standards.

McGroarty also had concerns about Rubio’s view of student data mining.

Relevant to the privacy issue, Rubio is co-sponsoring the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 1195), which would create a federal database on students for at least 15 years after they enter the workforce. It is troubling that Rubio advocates a limited role for government in the activities of the American people, yet fails to see the problem with the governmental tracking and collecting data on all citizens.

More recently Rubio failed to vote on the reauthorization of NCLB he wasn’t present for the cloture vote or final vote for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

I’d encourage Rubio to shore his own record and position on Common Core before attacking another candidate’s because he’s hardly the gold standard.

One thought on “Both Rubio and Christie’s Common Core Records Need Work

  1. Excellent summary, Shane. The Republican candidate who actually begins to show an understanding of the education situation in our country will garner many supporters.

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