Hewlett Goes to Bat for the Common Core in New York

We have written before about the Hewlett Foundation and the Common Core, specifically how the foundation has pushed for greater creativity and the arts within the Core.

But Hewlett is also among a bevy of heavy hitters—Helmsley, Gates, Bechtel, Broad, Mott, Carnegie—that is funding efforts broadly to ensure that the Common Core's success. Recently, Hewlett put up money for state-level work being done in New York to build capacity for and with teachers to use the Common Core as it is rolled out.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has worked diligently to provide Common Core-aligned curricular resources for teachers through its EngageNY website. Initially, they worked with curriculum vendors to develop the modules posted on the site, but eventually received some critical feedback from educators about the overall quality of the materials. Now, NYSED is looking to actually employ teachers across the state—through release time—to revise and enhance the curricular materials in preparation for the 2015-2016 school year.

The plan is to have educators participate full-time in this work while remaining based in their local school or district with the capacity for online work as part of this opportunity. Funds from Hewlett and other funders will encourage regional professional development and capacity building through Common Core institutes and fellowships given to educators to further develop Common Core-aligned curriculum. The educators working as fellows will focus on further development of optional and supplemental curricular materials.

With political support for the Common Core wavering across a not-insignificant number of states and districts, funders and supporters seem to be responding to legitimate criticism about a noticeable lack of capacity to go along with the new mandate that Common Core has turned out to be for educators. Common Core boosters seem to be honing in on a strategy that seeks to win over educators with curricular materials and support resources that directly answers the argument that the Core is “too challenging to implement."

This approach aligns well with the work that Hewlett has been doing in California around building capacity and support for an arts-infused Common Core curriculum.

Hewlett is betting that these gifts to educators will win the day for the Common Core. With the initial underwhelming response to the curricular modules in New York, we are eager to see what 2.0 looks like with Hewlett’s backing.