SVCF fellow photographs Common Core in action at Bay Area high schools

Common Core Photo 1
Each classroom in Silicon Valley’s 54 school districts functions differently. Individual teachers, students, resources and experiences shape a child’s learning each year. Yet students are held to the same academic standards, which were recently changed by educators in Sacramento.
As part of SVCF’s work on the Silicon Valley Common Core Initiative, we’re trying to help parents understand the state’s new academic standards, how they impact students in the classroom and how parents can support their children’s learning. 
Over the past year, SVCF worked with several journalists to help spur conversations about Common Core among parents. In partnership with New America Media, we supported nine reporting fellows from ethnic and community media outlets through the Informed Communities Education Reporting Fellowship. The fellows produced stories about various aspects of Common Core. Rian Dundon, a photojournalist, was part of this group. 
SVCF worked with Rian and the other fellows to link them with experts, students and teachers who are responsible for implementing California’s new academic standards in schools across the region. Rian, in turn, brought a thoughtful and fresh pair of eyes to show parents what Common Core looks like. Rian’s work was recently featured in the New York Times.

Common Core Photo 2
Rian’s images span the school year at three Silicon Valley high schools – Pescadero, Design Tech in Millbrae and Overfelt in San Jose. Rian photographed students preparing for tests, participating in group learning and navigating the halls of a traditional institution, even as their learning employs new methods and technology. 
For SVCF, the photo project helps show parents and community members what is happening in classrooms under the new standards. It has been a storytelling experiment of sorts, to 1) see how photography can translate wonky policy issues into everyday parlance and 2) how stories of real students can engage parents in learning more about their struggles.
At some level, high school as seen through Rian’s eyes is just the same as it’s ever been. But in other ways, teaching and learning are changing under the Common Core State Standards. 
Common Core Photo 3
“The 21st century job force is Silicon Valley, so it seems particularly salient to look at Common Core in Silicon Valley and how it was succeeding or not,” Rian told the New York Times. “Because if they can’t succeed here then they can’t succeed anywhere.”   
View the full slideshow of Rian’s photos on the New York Times’ Lens blog. Learn more about SVCF’s work on the Silicon Valley Common Core Initiative.
Images produced by Rian Dundon in collaboration with Silicon Valley Community Foundation and New America Media, as part of a series looking at Common Core in Silicon Valley.