Republicans are the party of limited government, right? Republicans are the party of decentralization, right? Republicans are defying the federal government on federal education mandates that stifle innovation, discourage critical thinking, cram more standardized tests down our throats and herd us all into a one size fits all indoctrination system, right? Not if you’re Governor Chris Christie, or, according to the governor’s remarks, many other Republican governors.
Notice how blatantly obviously the interviewer leads with his remarks about Congressional Republicans, as if they have somehow held the line on refusing to fund any of President Barack Obama’s initiatives since winning the House in the 2010 elections. ”Republicans in Congress have hardly been carrying the banner of education reform.” Well, if by “education reform,” one meant abolishing the unconstitutional US Department of Education, then that would be true. Governor Christie willingly goes along with both the question and the agenda behind it when he talks about the imagined atmosphere of partisanship where the Republicans in Congress automatically shoot down every idea of President Obama’s. Would that such a remark were true, imagine where we would be. And yet, eight Republican governors, including our own Governor Christie, have agreed to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, aka PalloneCare, with two more considering the expansion. Apparently, according to Governor Christie, these same Republican governors are leading the way to the same disaster in education, surrendering our autonomy to DC again by adopting Common Core standards. It should also be noted there is opposition to Common Core among the Democrats, as evidenced in the 2012 elections when Glenda Ritz, outspent 5-to-1, defeated incumbent Republican Tony Bennett in the race for State Superintendent of Schools in Indiana.
In a style learned from the Nancy Pelosi school of rhetoric, the governor talks about “looking into the eyes of those kids.” What kids? The kids who are burnt out from the constant barrage of standardized tests that will label their future for years to come? The kids who are being taught “to the test,” which does little to nothing to prepare for the real life tests? The young girl who (author’s personal experience) can’t focus on a guitar lesson, which used to be a source of enjoyment, because she’s stressed about the next round of NJ ASK tests, and turns about a third of her lesson into a rant about Common Core that would be catching 1 million views on YouTube if it had been recorded? Or this kid, Ethan Young, who demolishes Common Core in a speech that did receive over 1 million view on YouTube. The poor guy is probably on a watch list for demonstrating that dangerous strain of libertarianism going through both parties.
It should be noted that President Obama is not the only president to desire an expansion of the federal government’s role in education, nor is it only Democrats by any stretch of the imagination. Governor Christie’s former boss, George W. Bush, as well as a predominantly Republican Congress during the Bush years, gave us No Child Left Behind, a series of steps in the direction of Common Core. The Republicans lost the House and Senate in 2006 and the White House in 2008, but their legacy lives on in the House since regaining it in the 2010 elections. Willing participants in this nationalization of education include roughly one third of all Republican governors nationwide. These are the people we have leading the way?
It may be too late to put this thought in Governor Christie’s head, but perhaps the people of other states now and New Jersey in future elections can get their candidates thinking about their primaries and what will happen if they embrace the path we’re on now. Starting from local Boards of Education up through the town, county and state governments, we need to let them know we stand against this. The leadership we need will not come from the party establishments. It needs to come from us.