Friday, May 29, 2015

Christie's Useless Gesture

So Chris Christie has decided to repudiate the Common Core.

Big frickin' deal.

Here are just a few of the reasons that his newly-discovered disdain for the standards is unimpressive, and unlikely to help save the fantasy of Christie running for President, ever.

The Core is so last year.

Repudiating the Core, even taking it to court, has not exactly set Bobby Jindal's campaign aflame. It's kind of ironic-- being against the Core no longer seems to be anything special. Once upon a time any politician could say that they were in favor of good schools and education and it was a safe, predictable position that didn't really earn votes or distinguish a candidate. Being against the Core seems to fall into the same category.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush continues to hold hands with the Core and give it Al Gore-style kisses in public, and it doesn't hurt him. Well, not any more than the whole complex of issues on which he is so clearly a corporate tool rather than an actual conservative. He may get the nod because, like Mitt Romney, he's the only candidate who's not a outright loon-burger, but nobody will be happy about it, and Common Core support will be just one of the many reasons. It's not enough to move the needle by itself.

He's leaving the PARCC alone.

The PARCC is the most visible and obnoxious part of the Core Complex. That Damned Test is what the parents and students encounter in the most frustrating, infuriating, time-wasting manner. Saying that he'll get rid of CCSS but keep PARCC is like announcing that the neighborhood bully's family will be moving, but they will still drop him off on the street every day to continue stealing your lunch money and pushing your kids into traffic.

A rose by any other name would smell dishonest

Getting rid of the Common Core nameplate may have worked a few times previously, but the public is starting to catch on. Dropping the Core Standards so that you can replace them with the Corre Standardds not only helps nothing, but it reveals a level of dishonesty and disinterest in actual educational concerns that is not flattering on anybody.

I mean, when Jeb stands up for the Core et al, he is completely full of baloney, but at least he's being honest about it. Trying to feed me poisoned baloney while telling me it's steak just ads insult to injury. This is particularly problematic for Christie, whose whole brand is based on his being a straight shooter. Promising your wife that you'll stop sleeping with other women in your house and then continuing your affairs on the porch is just weaselly crap.

Core is the least of his sins

Some conservatives have already tried to paint Christie as bending to pressure from teachers, but if he wants to suck up to teachers, he'll have to do far better than this. Perhaps actually following the funding formulas for schools, of funding pensions. Stop belittling them and calling them names. Saying that Christie is pandering to teachers is like saying that an abusive spouse is reformed because he beats his wife with his fists instead of a club.

Meanwhile, Christie has systematically denied local control to many of his own districts. He cannot pretend that his state control of Newark, where the district is in shambles and huge demonstrations have expressed the disgruntlement of everyone from high school students to the mayor of the city-- he can't pretend that's working, and he can't hope that people will never notice that this sort of oppressive systematic disenfranchisement of voters and parents has been done mostly to not-wealthy not-white citizens.

If Christie wanted to be a bold champion of local control, he could have stood up to say, "You know what? The state-controlled of public schools is not working. I thought it was worth a try, but it failed. We're going to transition these cities back to control of an elected school board, fire Cami Anderson and her ilk, and give New Jersey's citizens a say in their community schools again."

That would have been impressive. "I've decided to change the letterhead on the government paperwork," is not the move of a bold leader. Don't get me wrong-- it's always nice to see the Common Core Standards take a hit. But this is a useless, empty gesture unlikely to improve things for either the citizens of New Jersey or the Presidential campaign of their hapless governor.


  1. Well, you beat me to it, Peter, but at least I was the one who went there on the "bridge to sell you" approach:

  2. I have a gesture for Christie, but it's not printable here. ;-)