Conservative Radio Host Grills Christie on Common Core Flip-Flop

Asked at CPAC gathering about controversial academic standards he once supported, governor says he now has ‘implementation regrets’

Gov. Chris Christie is interviewed at CPAC by conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham.
First Gov. Chris Christie had “serious concerns” about the Common Core State Standards. Now it’s “implementation regrets” about how those academic standards are being carried out.

Such is the bouncing ball of Christie’s position on Common Core, which had his full support at least until 2013 but has evolved into a far more critical position as Christie has traveled the country and faced Republican voters in gearing up for his likely bid for the party’s nomination for the presidency.

But that doesn’t mean the party’s right-wing is convinced, and Christie faced some tough questioning yesterday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held outside Washington, D.C., where he was one of a handful of likely Republican candidates making appearances.

The questioning came from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who covered a wide range of topics – but started with the Common Core.

Here is the full transcript of the opening exchange.

Ingraham: Common Core is a huge issue for conservatives. Everyone in the audience knows what the struggle is. In 2010, you actually signed the application for Race to the Top funds and signed onto the Common Core, even as those places like Virginia did their own standards. What gives with the Common Core? I know you now have some hesitations, but why’d you sign?

Gov. Christie: In New Jersey, we have always been for standards, and high standards. And we had them beforehand. But my concern now as we try to do implementation, it’s not only the heavy foot of the federal government coming in, but it’s not doing what we need to have done in New Jersey. We need to have local control, parents, and teachers in those classrooms. They are the ones who should be helping us at the state level, helping us with those standards.

The (Race to the Top application) was all teed up when I came in by Gov. Corzine, we signed on to try to get funds during a really difficult fiscal time. But as we have tried to put them in place …

Ingraham: Regrets? Do you have regrets?

Christie: Sure, of course.

Ingraham: Not political regrets, these are real regrets?

Christie: These are implementation regrets. Unlike other people who actually have to talk about this stuff, we have to actually do it. But once we have started to do it, what I have seen, the concerns are significant. I set up a commission that is now coming back to me with recommendations, but my charge to them is we have to keep government at the local level. Education, most importantly, has to have parents involved, teachers involved. That hasn’t been part of this process, but it needs to be part of this process, and it will be as we move forward in New Jersey.