Chris Christie floated eliminating the Department of Education during a campaign stop in New Hampshire Monday.
The New Jersey governor laid in to the agency under President Obama for its implementation of Common Core State Standards, which he claimed "perverted" the true intent of the education standards. He also accused the department of putting states in a "straightjacket," forcing them to jump through hoops to earn federal dollars.
"I would not be in favor of the Department of Education conducting itself the way it is now," he said at a town hall in Hooksett, N.H., according to video captured by the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge.
"As far as the elimination of those departments, everything would be on the table, as far as I'm concerned, when you have to balance the federal budget."
Christie's response came to a question about both the Common Core education standards as well as whether he'd shutter the departments of Education and Commerce as president. While he's criticized the agency in the past, he's been loath to go as far as to float pulling the plug. His campaign platform on education doesn't mention getting rid of the agency.
The New Jersey governor mostly focused his answer on cutting down Common Core, the education standards he once supported before walking that support back after the Obama administration encouraged states to adopt it as part of its Race to the Top program. Christie told attendees that Common Core initially had the "right premise" but that the Obama administration "perverted it."
That federal program gave states a boost if they implemented common standards. So while Common Core itself wasn't mandatory, it became the easiest way for states to fulfill that standard. That led to criticism from conservatives accusing the government of linking the standards to federal dollars.
"I think where the Department of Education has gotten into very, very bad, deep water is by dictating that if you want the money you must do all of these things," Christie said.
"I can tell you now as a recipient of federal money at the state level on education, it’s unbelievable how restrictive it is."
Christie's previous support of Common Core has raised eyebrows with some in the conservative base, who see the standards as federal intrusion over local control of education. So Christie has emphasized the need for that control while on the stump.
"You in New Hampshire should be able to decide what you want your kids to be learning every day," he said.
"If there’s something going on at your school that you don’t like, you should be able to go to your school board meeting and protest it and raise the concerns. If those decisions were made in Washington, good luck. You’ve got no chance at affecting that."
Tags Chris Christie