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Common Core ‘Listening Tour’ Hears From Just a Handful of Witnesses

Few turn out for sessions scheduled after Gov. Christie backed off from previous support of controversial education standards

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A veteran math teacher, claiming few educators were actually involved, questioned how the Common Core State Standards were developed. A father of two was in favor of them, and asked that parents be given an integral role in the state’s review of those standards.

And another person wondered if all the testimony would even matter.

That’s a sampling of what Christie administration officials are hearing on a much-touted “listening tour” being staged on the heels of Gov. Chris Christie’s disavowal of the Common Core, which he once supported and the state subsequently adopted.

The “listening tour” is meant to be the main chance for the public to give its input as a task force appointed by Christie reviews the state of the academic standards tied to the controversial PARCC exams.

In the days leading up to the launch of his run for the Republican nomination for president, Christie announced that he opposed Common Core, which he described as a federal intrusion in public education.

The series of public hearings, which finished up this week, did not draw big crowds. A meeting held Monday in Stockton had just seven people sign up to comment. The first session in Parsippany earlier this month saw nine people testify. The last session was scheduled to be held last night in Hamilton.

Even if it was sparse, the testimony did reflect a wide spectrum of perspectives.

Amy Rominiecki – a library media specialist at Seneca High School in Tabernacle -- testified in Stockton this week that media literacy should be a critical piece in the review of the standards.

“Digital and online media should be infused throughout the standards and appear at all the grade levels so that students read, view and listen for information in any format,” she said in her submitted testimony.

Rafael Collazo testified on behalf of the National Council of La Raza, the civil rights and advocacy group on behalf of Hispanic residents. But he said that first and foremost, he is a father of two children in Gloucester Township schools who sees the Common Core Standards as a move to “help level the playing field.”

“All students, regardless of ethnicity and household income level, will be held to the same rigorous standards, thereby promoting equity in the quality of education,” read his written testimony.

Yet another person wondered if the public hearings were efforts in futility and only being held for Christie’s political benefit.

“What I worry is public comment in New Jersey goes nowhere by design,” said Sue Altman in testimony this week. “It is not meant to effect change, is meant to appease an angry public.”

Altman, describing herself as a product of New Jersey’s public schools, said the process deserved more than the few months prescribed by the governor.

“What’s the rush?” she said. “And why spend all this money to rush through something important? And why only three minutes of comment?”

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