Christie bails on Common Core ahead of presidential bid

Story highlights

  • Christie helped implement Common Core in New Jersey five years ago, but has since soured.
  • Conservative Republicans loathe the standards, so the move may help a 2016 bid for Christie.

Washington (CNN)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is bailing on Common Core education standards, continuing his shift to the right of candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich ahead of a likely bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a major speech Thursday, Christie said he's pulling his state out of the standards -- which are hated by conservative primary voters who see Common Core as a prime example of federal overreach -- that New Jersey had adopted just five years earlier under his watch.
It's the latest move to the right for a presidential contender who has also backed away from his previous position on immigration.
    Christie blasted President Barack Obama's administration for offering federal government incentives, including stimulus-funded grants and No Child Left Behind waivers, to push states into entering into what were originally standards drafted by a group of governors and state-level education chiefs.
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    "It's now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it's simply not working," Christie said, according to a text of his speech provided by his office.
    "It has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents. And has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work," he said at Burlington County College in Pemberton, New Jersey.
    "Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones. And when we aren't getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different," he said.
    Christie said he's forming a new state panel to consider new standards developed within New Jersey.
    Christie has robustly defended higher testing standards, telling a kid earlier this year who complained about standardized testing at a town hall to "live with it."
    In 2013, Christie expressed strong support for Common Core, saying it's "one of those areas where I have agreed more with the President than not."
    Last year, however, he appointed a commission to review the effectiveness of the program, and he pledged to "take some action" when the report comes back.
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    "I have grave concerns about the way this is being done, especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement it through tying it to federal funding," he said in February in Iowa.
    Flagging in the polls in recent months, Christie's move puts him in position to clash with Bush, the former Florida governor who is a key figure in the education reform movement and has backed Common Core standards, if not the federal government's role in pushing them, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who adopted the standards, too.
    He's been battling, along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul over the National Security Agency. Paul lead a Senate rebellion against Obama and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, last week as the chamber considered a bill to extend the NSA's authority to collect bulk phone records.
    Christie's move comes the same day that Jindal's lawsuit against the federal government's moves to push Common Core, saying they amount to illegal coercion, got a hearing in a Baton Rouge court.
    Jindal also once supported Common Core, but is now one of its most outspoken opponents.