California and New York and Common Core

California and New York Couldn’t Have Diverged More When It Comes to Common Core Education Standards

California and New York have quite a bit in common.

Both are liberal leaning states with a serious focus on education. Both have large and diverse school populations, and both have progressive leaning governors as well as giant and incredibly influential teacher’s unions looking to push education further into the chair for the benefit of generations to come.

But it turns out that California and New York have wildly different experiences when it comes to implementing the Common Core standards, resulting in totally different educational landscapes in these states that share so many goals with one another.

Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York put out a major news release just two weeks before Christmas highlighting just how badly New York had failed their students while making dozens and dozens of mistakes when it came to the implementation of Common Core standards.

Gov. Cuomo went as far to assign a brand-new task force that would overhaul the Department of Education for the state of New York, establishing a comprehensive review of the 1500 different Common Core standards that had been established for English and Math.

He also committed to modifying, eliminating, or creating new standards to supplement the already existing Common Core “on the books”, finding ways to elevate the educational opportunities available to young students throughout New York.

California has not had to contend with this kind of public soul-searching.

Instead of moving at lightning speed, some would say like a bull in a china shop at times, to implement Common Core standards with no real focus or cohesion the way they did in New York, California has instead move forward much more deliberately, much more strategically.

Where Andrew Cuomo went toe to toe against the powerful teacher’s unions in the state of New York, California Gov. Jerry Brown instead brought these organizations together in a spirit of collaboration to find ways to implement new Common Core standards and strategies together.

Cuomo made more than a handful of enemies in the field of education when he tied to the success or failure of Common Core tests to evaluations of teachers, valuations that had an impact on their careers directly. New York was only the second US state to make this kind of mood, and when students began to take Common Core examinations before teachers had an opportunity to implement these standards – and low test scores resulted – the teachers were punished unfairly.

Gov. Jerry Brown pushed back on the Obama administration that wanted to link Common Core test scores to teacher evaluations. He went so far as to resist pressure directly from the administration to “climb on board”, even when it was made evident that doing so was the only way to apply for federal funding and waivers from some of the No Child Left Behind laws and regulations.

Today, the strategies that both of these governors chose to move forward with have painted a completely different educational landscape in each of these states. Teacher unions in New York are 100% opposed to Common Core standards, whereas the leadership of all California teacher associations are 100% supportive.

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