Chris Christie’s Fact-Challenged Common Core Debate Statement

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

When criticized by Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican Presidential Debate on January 14th for supporting Common Core, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, "And on Common Core, Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey."

The evidence on the New Jersey Department of Education website and in the state media, however, tells a completely different story.  Although Christie should be commended for signing two bills that pare back testing for grades K-2 and does not penalize districts for having high numbers of students that opt out, the Garden State is still a member of PARCC, the national Common Core testing consortium:

The review panel reviewing the standards wants to keep the PARCC and actually make it a graduation requirement, which would negate the bill described above, that does not penalize districts for opting out.  It would greatly harm the possibility for parents to actually use their inherent, God-given right to direct the education of their children, including by opting them out of state tests. The axiom that what is tested will be taught holds true.  If New Jersey is testing Common Core, they will be teaching Common Core.

Regarding the standards themselves, the department seems poised to keep 84-85% of Common Core.  This is the magic number that is required in the Race to the Top contracts each state signed that clearly required Common Core. The relevant text from Florida's contract says:

"The goal is to have a common core of state standards that states can voluntarily adopt. States may choose to include additional standards beyond the common core as long as the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state's standards in English language arts and mathematics." (Race to the Top Contract, p. 92, emphasis added)

So, as in Florida, the review panel is recommending that New Jersey still keep the bulk of the Common Core standards to remain within the RTTT contract. The NJ commissioner of education plans to follow the recommendations of the panel, and have the state board of education rubber stamp those recommendations.  In addition the panel recommended merely changing the name of the Common Core standards to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

Besides recommending improvements and revisions to hundreds of standards, the state Department of Education has proposed renaming the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, as well as the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts, to be named the "New Jersey Student Learning Standards."

The State Board of Education will conduct its normal review and adoption process. Until the recommendations are officially adopted by the State Board of Education, the current [Common Core] standards will remain in place. (Emphasis added)

It is right there as plain as day that New Jersey is still using Common Core! Also, like Florida, Indiana, and other states, New Jersey has little respect for the intelligence of the parents, students, and teachers of the state and is trying to pull off a deceptive rebrand while the Common Core is still in place. This is far from the "elimination" that Christie proclaimed in the GOP debate.

In addition, as both we and Emmett McGroarty have documented, the Every Student Succeeds Act (replacement for No Child Left Behind), will make getting out of the standards difficult indeed

Finally, Educator Peter Greene has likely correctly theorized another very important reason why no state will be courageous enough to change more than 15% of the standards:

Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we'll let you have 15 percent over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards -- because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can't tolerate.

This is why the "aligning" process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It's not instructional. It's not even about accountability.
It's about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.

If you are in a state that "dropped" the Core, here's one simple test -- look at your "new" standards and ask just how hard it would be to convert your standards/tags to the CCSS standards/tags. If it's as simple as switching some numbers and letters, guess what -- you haven't really changed a thing, and your data is still ready to be tagged and bagged.

Christie was strongly in favor of Common Core in 2013 and his switch to opposing Common Core seems too tightly aligned to his presidential aspirations.

This supposed switch is hollow and his fact challenged claims have already been called out both by on the ball parent activists such as at Missouri Education Watchdog, as well as by CBS News. The New Jersey governor may be quite good on national security and some other issues, but he has failed both the truth test and smell test on Common Core and education.

Senator Rubio is to be commended for bringing this important issue up during the debate.  Hopefully it is sincere opposition and not politically motivated given his strongly pro-Common Core donors, billionaires Paul Singer and Bill Gates.  It is great to see Senator Rubio echo the long held views of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, such as eliminating the US Department of Education and stopping the implementation of Common Core.

Posted in Political Aspects of Common Core. Tagged as Chris Christie, GOP presidential debate, Marco Rubio, New Jersey, PARCC, Ted Cruz.

FSCCC Comments Submitted Regarding Orwellian Federal Family Engagement Policy

After only hearing the news the day they were due due to the holidays and travel, Dr. Karen Effrem submitted comments on January 4th in response to the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Education joint and very Orwellian "family engagement" policy framework. Here is a summary of the issues discussed:

  1. Parents are not just "equal partners," they "own the store" when it comes to raising their children  Although the document says on page one that "Families are children's first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers" on page 1, it does not clearly set forth the preeminent role of parents in the education and upbringing of their children.  Based on Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, Troxel vs Granville, and Meyers vs. Nebraska to name a few seminal Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, the pervasive language in this document that parents are mere partners with government or that government programs are to perform "parenting interventions" is extremely disturbing and unacceptable.
  2. Promotion of government home visiting programs  Based on this agency's own research, these programs are extraordinarily ineffective in two of the major areas that they are alleged to help:  a) Prevention of Child Maltreatment:  For primary measures in the studies reviewed where there was data listed, only 15/75 parameters (20%) showed a positive effect while 60/75 parameters (80%) showed no effect and there were many programs not studied.  
    b) Child Development and School Readiness:  For primary measures in the studies reviewed where there was data listed, only 77/448 parameters (17%) showed a positive effect while 362/448 parameters (82%) showed no effect, 3/448 parameters (1%) showed a negative or ambiguous effect, and there were many programs not studied.   
  3. Focus on social emotional parameters and data for young children  It is the epitome of destruction of parental autonomy to have the federal government via any agency tamper with, manipulate, set norms for, or otherwise deal with anything in this realm.  Psychiatric diagnosis and social emotional parameters are extremely subjective to begin with and are especially difficult to use for young children in particular. Having data and evaluations of these subjective and inaccurate parameters in children's records that follow them for life is extraordinarily problematic.
  4. Data Privacy  The draft document is replete with references to expand data collection such as this recommendation on page 9: "Develop and integrate family engagement indicators into existing data systems." Students, families, and teachers whose sensitive personal and family data about everything from "social and emotional" issues to genetic data in newborn screening is collected and shared between many federal agencies and private entities. According to an investigation by Politico, education technology companies are "scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day."  FERPA has been severely weakened via regulatory fiat to gut consent requirements and broaden access to data by federal agencies and private entities.  Given both the extent and sensitivity of the data that would need to be collected, the spectacular failure of the federal government to protect citizen data (, OPM and NSA data breaches), and the complete absence of the word "consent" in this document, this kind of data collection should be eliminated, not expanded

Posted in Federal Education. Tagged as data mining, Dr. Karen Effrem, Family Engagement, home visiting, parenting interventions, socia and emotional parameters, US Department of Education, US Department of Health and Human Services.

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