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Have Something to Say About NJ Education Standards? Public forums slated

Christie administration schedules ‘listening tour’ after turnabout on Common Core State Standards

Gov. Chris Christie said in backing off the Common Core State Standards that he was listening to educators and parents who were against the standards adopted by the state in 2010.

Now he’ll have a chance to back that up.

The Christie administration announced this week that it would begin a “listening tour” to seek public input on the strengths and weaknesses of the standards currently employed and to solicit ideas for improving them.

The standards cover just language arts and math, and are the basis of the state’s new online testing known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which will continue despite Christie’s disavowal of the Common Core standards on which it is based.

Three hearings have been announced thus far (those interested in speaking must preregister):

North

Public Safety Training Academy
500 West Hanover Ave., Parsippany
Date: September 17
Time: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Registration
Note: Registration will close at 5 p.m. on September 16.

Central

Mercer County Special Services School District
1020 Old Trenton Road, Hamilton
Date: September 29
Time: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Registration
Note: Registration will close at 5 p.m. on September 28.

South

Stockton College, Conference Room 101
Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway
Date: September 28
Time: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Registration
Note: Registration will close at 5 p.m. on September 27.

In addition, the state Department of Education has launched an online survey that allows educators to comment on specific standards for specific grades.

The public process is part of a promise that Christie made in his much-publicized announcement this summer that he no longer backed Common Core, a move widely seen as politically calculated to win conservative voters in his quest for the Republican nomination for president.

According to Christie, maintaining the standards should be a homegrown effort rather than a national one, adding that panels of local educators, parents, and business leaders would instead make recommendations for improving the standards by the end of the year. The process will start with public hearings, as well as focus groups preceding each hearing.

The panels have been apparently set up, although their membership has yet to be made public. The first panels met this week, according to officials. Details of who will participate in the focus groups were also not released.

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