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Fact-Checking Chris Christie on Common Core

By Alyson Klein — January 14, 2016 1 min read

Thought the Common Core was pretty much a dead issue in the presidential race? It’s still a thing.

During Thursday’s GOP presidential debate in North Charleston, S.C., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., accused Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey of being too much like President Barack Obama, in part because he supports Common Core.

In response, Christie told him that Common Core “has been eliminated” in New Jersey. Actually, that may end being only partially true. New Jersey has decided to review the Common Core standards and make changes, but the new version—which is still being finalized—may not look very different from Common

Core.

The changes may only be to a pretty small portion of the standards. But they could be substantial, David Hespe, the state education commissioner, told NJ.com.

“When you amend the constitution you don’t change all the words,” Hespe said. “You come up with a really good change that might have a profound impact.”

The Garden State wasn’t always so conflicted about Common Core. The states readopted the standards in early 2014, ahead of schedule.

And Christie, like other folks who are seeking or sought the GOP nod, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, used to be a Common Core defender. But, like those leaders, he had a change of heart.

Another question: Does the exchange in the debate mean Common Core is back in the mix as a campaign issue? Maybe. But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee, thinks it shouldn’t be a political hot potato any longer.

That’s because the Every Student Succeeds Act, the newest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, says the U.S. Secretary of Education can’t coerce or encourage a state to adopt any set of standards, including Common Core. So, he said, if folks don’t like their standards, they should talk to their governor.

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