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Chris Christie: I “Encouraged” Common Core As Governor, But Federal Government Hijacked It

"Unfortunately the greater plan was hijacked by the Obama administration, and people aren't buying in anymore and that's why I said we have to move in another direction."

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In a radio interview earlier this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie explained why he no longer supports Common Core education standards after having "encouraged" them as governor, telling radio host Bill Bennet that the plan was "hijacked by the Obama administration."

"We do need standards," Christie told Bennet, who formerly was the head of the Department of Education under Ronald Reagan.

"Here is the problem with what happen with Common Core, Bill, because of the hijacking by the federal government there was no -- and you remember we've instituted Common Core here," the New Jersey governor stated. "Jon Corzine, my predecessor had started putting it into effect and I let it continue and encouraged it as governor, because I thought that it started with the nation's governors. It was a smart attempt, that we should try it."

Christie who notably supported the Common Core standards in 2013 but came out against them several months before he announced his run for presidency.

"But after four years of doing it Bill, nobody here in New Jersey was buying in. Teachers were opposing it, parents were opposing it, and students were speaking out against it," Christie said.

"Every town hall that I was going to was getting opposition to it. And so I believe in standards, as you do, and I believe in standards that are high and help children aspire to greater things," he continued. "So what I've done is put together a group of folks here in New Jersey -- educators, administrators, and parents -- who are coming up with New Jersey standards that are high and that are locally based."

Common Core education standards are a set of recommended guidelines developed by state governors and education leaders that indicate what knowledge students should acquire at each grade level. Jeb Bush has been a strong advocate for the standards, while most of his opponents have criticized the program as an example of the federal government encroaching on a state and local matter.

The standards were not developed or implemented by the federal government, but the Obama administration has embraced them, pushing states to adopt the standards through a competitive grant program called "Race to the Top."

Christie said "the right way" to go about education is to have locally developed standards.

"So that we can have a state -- and by local I mean our state -- we can have a state that's aspired to really high standards, and tries to meet them, and that are those are bought into by the teachers who need to teach about these standards in the classroom, and by the parents who need to encourage students to work hard to reach them at home. I think that's the right way to go about it. Unfortunately the greater plan was hijacked by the Obama administration, and people aren't buying in anymore and that's why I said we have to move in another direction."

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Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

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