The Latest: Christie says he'd work with unions, unlike Bush

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Posted: Aug 19, 2015 5:55 PM
The Latest: Christie says he'd work with unions, unlike Bush

LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — The latest from the New Hampshire Education Summit, where six Republican presidential contenders were scheduled to answer questions about their views on K-12 public education in interviews with advocate Campbell Brown. (All times are local.)

4:16 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is reiterating his assertion that the nation's teachers unions need a "punch in the face."

He says the unions are "punching us all the time." Christie spoke at an education summit in New Hampshire.

Christie has long clashed with the teachers unions in his state. But he also stressed his willingness to work with union leaders — something he said differentiates him from one of his chief rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Bush had said earlier that he'd love a day when he and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten "could hold hands and sing Kumbaya," but said "she's not going to change." Christie says that's "admitting to failure."

Christie is also strongly defending his reversal on the Common Core standards, which he had once supported. He says that when it becomes clear that something isn't working, it only makes sense to change course.

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3:45 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal isn't backing off from his criticism of Common Core math standards despite pushback from the moderator of an education forum in New Hampshire.

Jindal initially supported Common Core but is now suing the federal government over the standards.

The Republican presidential candidate often tells a story about his son bringing home Common Core-aligned math homework that requires a new, multi-step process for solving basic addition. He says students shouldn't be forced to solve problems in convoluted ways when they already know the answer. But moderator Campbell Brown says the purpose of the standards is for students to understand math concepts in a deeper way.

Jindal says parents should be able to send their children to schools that teach Common Core if they choose, but it shouldn't be mandated in all schools. He also says parents should be able to understand the work their children are doing.

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3:05 p.m.

Scott Walker is using an education forum for Republican presidential contenders to tout his labor union-clashing credentials.

The Wisconsin governor tells education activists gathered in New Hampshire that his bid to end public-sector collective bargaining in his state, which sparked mass protests and a recall election, "was really about education reform."

Like other GOP contenders, Walker is calling for a more limited role for the federal government when it comes to education.

He says: "I don't think the president of the United States is responsible for holding governors accountable. I think the people are responsible for holding the governors accountable."

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12:50 p.m.

As a cast of GOP presidential hopefuls slam teachers unions during a forum in New Hampshire, local teachers are pushing back.

Members of the National Education Association, including teachers from New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut, say the Republican candidates only want to knock down teachers and diminish public school resources. Six presidential hopefuls each get about 45 minutes to talk about everything from the Common Core education standards to school choice during an education summit here.

Each of this morning's speakers — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former technology executive Carly Fiorina — all panned teachers unions as organizations that hobble student achievement. The three candidates support increasing school choice.

Scott McGilvray, president of New Hampshire's NEA, says the field is the "most anti-public education, anti-working class" GOP field in history. To his fellow teachers, he says, "I'm not the villain, and you're not the villain."

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12:20 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn't backing away from his support for the Common Core standards, which separates him from many of his GOP rivals.

Kasich says he believes in higher standards, with local school boards developing curricula to meet those benchmarks.

Kasich spoke to a group of education advocates at a forum kicking off a busy day of campaigning in the early-voting state of New Hampshire.

While many of his fellow Republican governors have backed away from Common Core, Kasich says he's not going to change his position "because there's four people in the front row yelling at me." He says, "I just don't operate that way."

He also had harsh words for teachers unions, saying, "If I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers' lounges where they sit together and worry about 'woe is us.'"

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10:50 a.m.

Carly Fiorina isn't straying far from familiar Republican talking points when it comes to fixing K-12 education: No Common Core, less power for the Department of Education and more school choice for students and parents.

Fiorina is speaking at an education forum in New Hampshire alongside five other GOP hopefuls. Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, is unique among the group in that she is not a current or former governor and has not directly shaped education policy in an elected role. Her answers during the 45-minute question-and-answer session nearly always called for less federal involvement in education.

She says, "When Washington spends more money, the quality of education in this nation does not improve."

Despite her background running a technology company, she says new technology is not the 'silver bullet' in education. Instead, she says, it's up to teachers to inspire a love of learning in students. She also says a desire to prepare students for careers shouldn't eliminate access to music, art and philosophy programs.

Fiorina says teachers unions are partially responsible for crippling innovation in schools.

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10:20 a.m.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who stands out from his Republican rivals as a supporter of the Common Core education standards, is stressing the role of individual states in setting standards for themselves.

"What's that?" Bush joked when the topic was broached at the New Hampshire Education Summit being hosted by Campbell Brown's advocacy group, The Seventy Four, at Londonderry High School Wednesday.

Throughout his remarks, Bush stressed that it should be up to states to set their own standards, as long as they're high. But he appeared to struggle slightly when asked how to determine whether a state has high standards if all states set their own.

"It's not like pornography where you know it when you see it, but clearly low standards you know it. That's what most states have had," he said.

Bush also advocated using block grants and other sources of federal funding to support private pre-K programs and took an aggressive stance against teachers unions, bragging about his clashes in Florida.

"I've got tire marks on my forehead. You can see the gashes here. I've got a lot of scars," he said.