A few years ago, I met David Coleman for lunch and we talked about education. At the time, I didn’t know much about him, but I knew that he was deeply involved in the writing of the Common Core standards, which were then in the formative stage. We had a wonderful conversation about books and education, and David reminded me that he was a classicist, that he loves ideas and reading, and that his values were the same as mine. I left the lunch feeling that I had met a kindred soul.
I saw him once briefly since then, at a meeting of the Albert Shanker Institute, where he encouraged the AFT to endorse the CC standards. The board agreed, though I demurred. I remain agnostic.
I thought I knew David Coleman. I knew that he had created a data and assessment company that he sold to McGraw-Hill. I knew that he had been a Rhodes Scholar. I knew he had all the right credentials. I came to realize that David was the architect of the Common Core standards, not just one of many hands. I also knew—from the accounts of others—that he disdains fiction and personal writing. I don’t like the idea that some disembodied national agency tells teachers to cut back on the novels, poetry, and short stories and focus on informational text. That shows not only a hostility to imaginative literature but a disregard for teachers’ professionalism. I mean, he can have his opinion but why foist it on the nation?
Last week, the College Board announced that David Coleman will be its new president. One assumes that David will integrate the AP assessments with his prized Common Core standards.
But I just discovered that I don’t know David Coleman at all. I just discovered that he was the treasurer for Michelle Rhee’s Students First. (http://kenmlibby.com/?p=300) I assume that means he supports what she advocates. One doesn’t join the inner circle of a group with which you are not in sympathy. So I assume he supports her well-publicized war against collective bargaining. He supports her opposition to seniority and tenure. He supports her battle to base evaluation on test scores. He supports her efforts to privatize public education. He supports her contempt for experienced teachers.
Not only is he the treasurer, but the other officers of her board are (or were) part of his organization, Student Achievement Partners. One of the directors wrote the math standards for the nation. His organization seems to be integrated with hers.
In the version of this blog that I published this morning–very early–I wrote that I had heard that he stepped down from his role as the keeper of the accounts for Students First. But a friend called to tell me that this was not true. He did not step down. He is still treasurer of Michelle Rhee’s Students First.
Now I am certain that I don’t know who he is or what he believes.