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.

A Look at Private School Lawsuits

A Look at Private School Lawsuits

 

According to a recent lawsuit between two Boston schools, a name is a highly valuable property. This particular lawsuit strikes some as an example of class warfare. Critics of the lawsuit contend that it is a battle being waged by one institution that has resources, against an institution that does not have the same resources.

 

Both institutions endeavor to teach our children. However, both institutions have considerably different means and approaches. Both institutions are located in Massachusetts. Keeping in mind all of the similar things these institutions share is important. In doing so, we are going to be able to develop a better idea of the differences that arguably created this lawsuit in the first place.

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Boston School Lawsuit

This event occurred just a couple of weeks ago. The story began when a highly-respected private school decided to file a lawsuit in Federal Court. This two-million-dollar suit was leveled against an independent school in Springfield, which is approximately ninety miles from Boston. Just to give you an idea of the differences between these schools, let’s take a look at tuition. The yearly tuition and fees at the Commonwealth School, which can be found in the Back Bay portion of Boston, is somewhere in the neighborhood of forty thousand dollars. By comparison, the tuition and other expenses associated with the Commonwealth Academy is approximately twelve hundred dollars.

 

Just in terms of tuition alone, you can imagine striking differences between the two. Yet in spite of the vast wealth gap between the two schools, and in spite of the fact that the Commonwealth Academy is roughly ninety miles away from Boston’s Commonwealth School, it is the wealthier school that feels as though an injustice has been done.

 

Founded in 1957, the Commonwealth School feels as though the Commonwealth Academy has intentionally tried to cause confusion, particularly in terms of its use of the word “commonwealth.” It is the belief of the Commonwealth School that this confusion has caused the school great harm. In addition to the money that is being demanded in the lawsuit, the Commonwealth School is also making the argument that the Commonwealth Academy should be made to change their name.

 

It is worth noting that the Commonwealth Academy is considerably newer than the Commonwealth School. Whereas the Commonwealth School was founded in 1957, as was mentioned before, the Commonwealth Academy was founded in 2011. The school is designed to particularly appeal to students who come from low-income families. The Commonwealth Academy is currently standing by their initial refusal to change the name. They do not believe that they have caused any harm to the Commonwealth School. They believe that the school is engaging in a campaign that they have described as “knowingly false and malicious campaign.”

 

Where The Trial Goes Next

For the time being, it is difficult to say where this lawsuit is ultimately going to go. On one hand, both schools do use the word “commonwealth” in their titles. While the schools are quite far from one another, they are both in the same state. Furthermore, the Commonwealth School has been around for several decades longer than that of the Commonwealth Academy. Some people do believe that seniority in a matter such as this should count for something. The lawsuit will juggle all of these particulars, and it remains to be seen what the outcome is going to be.

 

It is also difficult to say what will what happen to the Commonwealth Academy, in the event that they are forced to change their name. The two-million-dollar price tag will hurt, as well, but it’s hard to say if either/both of these things will damage the school to any particular degree. The school continues to work towards offering major educational opportunities to minority students and low-income students. Their prestige is not that of the Commonwealth School, but it is clear that the Commonwealth Academy wants to do a great deal for the community. No one can really say if the school intentionally sought to profit from the Commonwealth School, particularly since these institutions are roughly ninety miles apart from one another.

 

The word “commonwealth” is not an uncommon sight with private and other types of schools. This is just one element to this story that should be kept in mind, as the suit continues.  Hopefully a fair resolution is reached by all parties.