Gov. Christie could learn a few Common Core lessons from these NJ parents

Gov. Chris Christie is admittedly an easy target as he slavishly plods in Trump’s footsteps, but he could learn quite a bit about how to elevate course standards from the parents in Boonton, New Jersey.

You’ll recall that in his first educational iteration, Christie was a big fan of the state-led Common Core State Standards (“We are doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue”), especially during his formerly dignified presence as chair of the Republican Governors Association. Then he flip-flopped, telling NJTV that the CCSS are “not meeting the challenge of educating New Jersey children.”

Maybe he needs to spend a little more time in New Jersey and a little less time with policy-illiterate Trump. Maybe he should pay a visit to John Hill Elementary School in Morris County, where teachers are holding a series of meetings with parents to educate them on Common Core math, which focuses more on depth of understanding and less on rote memorization. (For a math teacher’s critique, see this from Salon).

“Parents may have heard or read different things about Common Core Standards but not have had an opportunity to connect the how and why to the work they see their children doing,” said Judy Sorochynskyj, Boonton’s  K-12 district’s supervisor of curriculum.  

Hence, Boonton’s “Family Nights,” where parents and children enthusiastically engage in hands-on math activities. Amy Melgaard, a mom of three children at John Hill School, warmly welcomed the opportunity: “I’m more aware now of why they do math the way they do.”

John Hill is a diverse suburban school that is outperforming many schools like it statewide. It is meeting 100 percent of its college-and-career readiness standards. It would be too easy for a high-achieving school like this to rest on its laurels and not encourage families to tackle the challenges of learning a new way to understand math. We need more schools to embrace this kind of challenge.

C’mon, Gov. Christie. You could learn a things from your NJ parents. 

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Laura Waters
Laura was weaned on education and equity issues because her mom was a social worker and her dad was a social studies teacher in New York City public schools. She can no more get this passion out of her blood than she can her New York accent, even though she has lived in Central Jersey now for over 20 years. She and her husband have four children, and her youngest has multiple disabilities. Laura has been on her local school board for 12 years. She keeps education leaders on their toes at NJ Left Behind.

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