Archives for category: Coleman, David

The College Board has ambitious plans to make SAT prep a standard part of the curriculum, utilizing Khan Academy videos. The head of the College Board is David Coleman, architect of the Common Core. The ostensible goal is to help more poor kids get prepared to take the SAT and gain admission to college.

“The company wants schools to track students’ progress from eighth to 12th grade using the “SAT Suite of Assessments,” which will be largely paid for by schools and typically administered during the school day, thus ensuring high participation rates. All of the exams will be aligned with the redesigned SAT, which is slated to make its debut next spring. More school-day testing is bound to take time away from traditional instruction, as is Khan prep if schools make it part of the standard curriculum, which appears to be the College Board’s goal….”

“If you ask Coleman, having students do Khan prep in school doesn’t detract from authentic learning. He believes that doing multiple-choice math and reading questions on screen and watching Khan’s YouTube videos constitute an “organic tool” that will work within the existing curriculum to develop academic skills. Meanwhile, Cynthia Schmeiser, who oversees assessment at the College Board, believes that “the sooner a student starts [using Khan prep], the more comfortable they’ll be on test day.”

“These positions fly in the face of test-prep experts, who argue that the SAT is divorced from traditional school work because it is a high-stakes, time-pressured, multiple-choice exam. Tutors typically recommend intense, compact preparation that detracts as little as possible from other educational pursuits and takes months not years. As Brendan Mernin, a founding tutor at Noodle.com, put it, “The SAT is supposed to show what you got out of your schoolwork. It is not supposed to be the schoolwork.”

What do I think? I think this is a corruption of education. The goal of education is to help young people learn and develop in mind, body, and character. School is a time to explore and develop interests and talents. Taking a test is not the goal of education. It is supposed to be a measure, not a part of the curriculum.

It is well-established that students’ grade point average predicts college readiness better than the SAT. Many colleges recognize this,and more than 800 are now test-optional.

The SAT has been losing ground to the ACT. This may be a clever marketing ploy by the College Board to best the competition.

Let’s hope that more colleges recognize that students’ work over four years means more than the SAT or the ACT. Free the students from this unnecessary burden!

Nicholas Tampio, a professor of political science at Fordham University, dislikes David Coleman’s approach to teaching literature even more than Peter Greene. He believes that Coleman has no appreciation for literature.

 

Coleman writes about the joys of “wonder,” says Tampio, but the methods he imposes are sure to suffocate and penalize wonder:

 

 

 

Coleman’s pedagogical vision stifles this kind of wonder by imposing tight restrictions on what may be thought — or at least what may be expressed to earn teacher approval, high grades and good test scores. He expects students to answer questions by merely stringing together key words in the text before them. This does not teach philosophy or thinking; it teaches the practice of rote procedures, conformity and obedience.

 

The first standard is the foundation of his vision. “Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it,” it reads, and “cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.” According to Coleman, the first standard teaches a rigorous, deductive approach to reading that compels students to extract as much information from the text as possible.

 

Throughout the document, he reiterates that students need to identify key words in a text. He analyzes passages from “Hamlet,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” the Gettysburg Address and an essay by Martha Graham. There is minimal discussion of historical context or outside sources that may make the material come alive. For instance, he suggests that teachers ask students, “What word does Lincoln use most often in the address?” rather than, say, discuss the Civil War. In fact, he disparages this approach. “Great questions make the text the star of the classroom; the most powerful evidence and insight for answering lies within the text or texts being read. Most good questions are text dependent and text specific.”

 

A recurrent defense of the Common Core is that the standards are good but the implementation has been bad.
As a professor, of course I demand that my students provide evidence to support their arguments. Coleman’s pedagogical vision, however, does not prepare students for college. He discourages students from making connections between ideas, texts or events in the world — in a word, from thinking. Students are not encouraged to construct knowledge and understanding; they must simply be adept at repeating it.

 

His philosophy of education transfers across disciplines. After analyzing literary passages, he observes, “Similar work could be done for texts … in other areas such as social studies, history, science and technical subjects.” Like a chef’s signature flavor, Coleman’s philosophy of education permeates the myriad programs that the College Board runs.

 

Computers can grade the responses generated from his philosophy of education. Students read a passage and then answer questions using terms from it, regardless of whether the text is about history, literature, physics or U.S. history. The Postal Service sorts letters using handwriting-recognition technology, and with a little tinkering, this kind of software could seemingly be used to score the SAT or AP exams.

 

Coleman’s vision will end up harming the U.S. economy and our democratic culture.

 

The U.S. should be wary of emulating countries that use a standards-based model of education. In “World Class Learners,” the scholar Yong Zhao commends America’s tradition of local control of the schools and an educational culture that encourages sports, the arts, internships and other extracurricular pursuits. In diverse ways, U.S. schools have educated many successful intellectuals, artists and inventors. By contrast, the Chinese model of education emphasizes rigorous standards and high-stakes tests, pre-eminently the gaokao college entrance exam. Chinese policymakers rue, however, how this education culture stifles creativity, curiosity and entrepreneurship. The Common Core will lead us to the same trap. Educators should not discard what has made the U.S. a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

Democracy depends on citizens’ treating one another with respect. In perhaps his most famous public statement, Coleman told a room of educators not to teach students to write personal narratives, because “as you grow up in this world, you realize that people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” This statement expresses, albeit more crassly, the same sentiment as his essay on cultivating wonder. He demands that students do what they are told and not offer their own perspectives on things. Ideally in a democracy, by contrast, citizens have a sincere interest in what other citizens have to say. As John Dewey argued in “Democracy and Education,” the purpose of the schools is to create a democratic culture, not one that replicates the worst features of the market economy.

 

A recurrent defense of the Common Core is that the standards are good but the implementation has been bad. Even if Coleman’s educational vision is perfectly actualized, it is still profoundly flawed. Under Common Core, from the time they enter kindergarten to the time they graduate from high school, students will have few opportunities to ask their own questions or come up with their own ideas. It’s time for Americans to find alternatives to Coleman’s educational vision.

 

 

Nicholas Tampio is associate professor of political science at Fordham University. He is the author of “Kantian Courage: Advancing the Enlightenment in Contemporary Political Theory.” He is currently researching the topic of democracy and national education standards.

 

Peter Greene, a high school teacher in Pennsylvania and blogger extraordinaire, here reviews David Coleman’s approach to teaching literature and finds it wanting.

 

This matters because David Coleman is both the architect of the infamous Common Core standards and the CEO of the College Board, which administers the SAT for college admission.

 

Greene examines how Coleman would teach Hamlet, Huck Finn, the Gettysburg Address, and a few other well-known literary works and shows what Coleman does not understand about teaching.

 

I hope not to spoil your pleasure in reading Greene’s analysis by sharing his concluding thoughts:

 

Coleman repeatedly fails to distinguish between his own experience of the text and Universal Truth. This leads him both to believe apparently that if he just figured something out about Bernardo, he must be the first person ever to see it, that his own reaction to a line is the universal one, that his path into the text is the only one, and that things that do not matter to him should not matter to anybody. Of all the reformsters, he is the one least likely to ever acknowledge contributions of any other living human being. For someone who famously said that nobody gives a shot about your thoughts and feelings, Coleman is enormously fascinated by and has great fait on his own thoughts and feelings.

 

The frequent rap on Coleman’s reading approach is that it is test prep, a technique designed to prepare students to take standardized tests. But the more Coleman I read, the more I suspect it’s the other way around– that Coleman thinks a standardized test is really a great model of life, where there’s always just one correct answer, one correct path, one correct reading, and life is about showing that you have it (or telling other people to have it).

 

Sadly, it often seems that what David Coleman doesn’t know about literature is what David Coleman doesn’t know about being human in the world. Life is not a bubble test. There is a richness and variety in human experience that Coleman simply does not recognize nor allow for. His view of knowledge, learning, understanding, and experience is cramped and tiny. It’s unfortunate that circumstances have allowed him such unfettered power over the very idea of what an educated person should be. It’s like making a person who sees only black and white the High Minister of National Art.

Steven Singer is a teacher. This post comes from his blog. It was tweeted by the Badass Teachers Association.

He writes that the best evidence against the Common Core can be found in the classroom. The Common Core is based on close reading and the “New Criticism,” which discounts the thoughts, feelings, and life experiences of the reader.

Visit Singer’s classroom in this post and find out how his students interact with what they read. Close reading is meaningless to them. They react from their heart and their gut. They think and they feel, and that is how reading comes alive for them.

Singer leads a Socratic Seminar for troubled teens.

He writes:

“If Coleman and the architects of Common Core could be in my classroom, they might see the error of their ways.

“Allowing students ownership of the text – allowing them to take their proper place as part of a complex relationship between the text, author and the world – is so much more engaging an experience than just being an authorial archeologist.

“When we insist on strict adherence to the author’s message – and only that – we create a false objectivity. Language Arts is a subject that is at most times open to interpretation. But Coleman makes it a guessing game to get the “right answer.”

“Literature is not math. We shouldn’t try to turn it into something it isn’t.

“This is why at the beginning of the year, my students take my innocent questions about the meaning of a text as an affront. They see me as just another adult trying to trick them. They assume I’m trying to get them to guess what I’m thinking – about what the author was thinking. There has to be only one true answer, they suppose, and if they haven’t been good at guessing it in the past, why try now?

“It takes a while, but through lessons like the Socratic Seminar, I try to broaden their horizons, to show them that they have a vital place in this dynamic. Without a reader, a text is nothing but words on paper. Without a larger societal context, those words lack their full meaning……

“Coleman and the Common Core designers would know that if they had ever led a classroom of students. But hardly any of them are educators. They’re bureaucrats, politicians and millionaire philanthropists.

“They’re missing the true picture.

“Because the best evidence against Common Core is denied them.

“Because the best evidence against Common Core is in the classroom.”

David Coleman, as everyone knows, is the architect of the Common Core. He is hot stuff.

Peter Goodman, observer of Néw York politics, saw Coleman strutting and preening. He says he wanted to be a high school teacher, but went to McKinsey instead. Then he became an eduentrepreneur and started the Grow Network, which was a way to track student performance data. The word on the street is that he sold it to McGraw-Hill for $14 million. Then he started Student Achievement Partners, which played the lead role in writing the Common Core.

Goodman attended the famous meeting at which Colemanade his infamous statement. Goodman writes:

“As my mind was wandering I was jolted upright, Coleman told us,

“…the most popular form of writing in American high schools today …it is personal writing. It is either the exposition of a personal opinion, or, it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem … as you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.”

Goodman recently heard Coleman—now CEO of the College Board–describe the new and redesigned SAT.

Goodman said:

“The revolution that rolled over New York State over the results of the Common Core state tests will be dwarfed by the tsunami of parent anger if hordes of students “fail” the redesigned SAT. As the SAT team projected “old” SAT questions and “new” SAT questions eyes rolled. The room was packed with principals and superintendents and scores of people with PhDs after their names. Had we all suddenly undergone a plague of “dumbness” or is it the new SAT?

“How many thousands of dollars in tutoring fees will parents have to spend to prepare their urchins? And, how about the kids who can’t afford $100 an hour tutors? The current yawning achievement gap will become a chasm.

“Regent Tallon is fond of referring to the “folks cross the street,” on the other side of Washington Avenue, where the legislative and the executive branches of state government are housed. As parents railed against the state tests legislators and the governor squirmed, the public’s angst was directed at government officials who have to stand for election every two years.

“As College Board revenue shrinks and colleges and state governments retreat the overseers of the SAT will be looking at the bottom line.

“One of the lessons of history is that reforms imposed from above without buy-in from below are doomed and ignoring history has dire consequences.

“Perhaps David Coleman should consider his original career choice – a high school teacher.”

Although Peter Greene teaches in Pennsylvania, he decided to review New York state’s curriculum guides about the Common Core standards. He pulls them apart and shows that they tell teachers to do what they were already doing, or they make demands that have no evidence to support them.

It is a hilarious deconstruction of engageNY, the state education department’s prized curriculum.

Greene concludes:

“So there you have it, in brief. EngageNY’s interpretation of the Core– one part useless foolishness, one part stuff that isn’t actually in the CCSS, and one part pedagogy that any non-brain-dead teacher was already using. Thank goodness the CCSS are here to save us.”

Peter Green watched a 30-minute interview of David Coleman at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

The big news from the interview is that Coleman doesn’t demonized critics of the CCSS and thinks it’s a big mistake to treat all critics as crazies and/or liars.

But what fascinates Green is Coleman’s self-regard, and also his strange idea that it is up to certain special people to fix our institutions.

Coleman trsponds to a question by interviewer Jane Stoddard Williams about Bill Gates’ admission that despite his best efforts, he has not yet reformed education:

“Coleman imagines that Gates is bothered that he hasn’t moved the needle enough, and Coleman thinks it’s very brave and decent to admit that. And for those of you hoping to see Coleman 2.0, I’ll point out that neither Coleman nor Williams addresses the question of why, in a democracy, a really rich private citizen should be taking on personal responsibility for a function of federal, state and local government without the benefit of, say, voters asking him to do so.”

David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core standards, believes that students should analyze difficult text as written, without reference to context or their personal reactions. This blogger disagrees. His blog is vigornotrigor, though you might be tempted to call it Wag the Dog. However, if you google Wag the Dog, you will never find it.

He includes a video of David Coleman, New York State Commissioner John King, and a member of the State Education Department staff named Kate Gerson discussing how to teach Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Coleman, who has never been a teacher, says:

“The first question is for kids as readers, how much can they draw from the text itself, you always want to ask yourself, how can they make do…I think we as readers often decide what can I skip. In other words, I don’t fully get this, but I get it enough to keep moving. I think it’s Ok to say that because you can’t read complicated things without choosing, there are some references that you don’t quite get, that you are not going to follow up on.”

And further:

“These speakers clearly do not realize that many of our slow learning, at-risk, and learning disabled middle school students are not developmentally ready and experienced enough independent readers to make such critical judgment calls when it comes to complex informational text.

“Coleman and crew also fail to grasp that students’ thoughts and feelings matter a great deal. Successful teachers at any grade level are genuinely interested in their students’ lives and the classroom is a safe and welcoming environment where each person’s thoughts and feelings are highly valued and respected.

“Trust is an essential ingredient of good teaching and it will flourish in the classroom when the teacher takes time to learn about the individual needs and interests of each student…..

“Learning unfolds in a safe environment that rewards and values curiosity, innovation, imagination, and risk-taking. A properly designed and implemented education program will nurture student confidence rather than fear, and cultivate hope rather than despair.

“The CCSS close reading strategy demands that all students independently “dive into” and master complex informational text and teachers are discouraged from answering student questions or introducing and reviewing prior knowledge with them.

“This unproven approach directly contradicts Bloom’s Taxonomy which has clearly demonstrated that students will first acquire knowledge before they can progress to comprehension and understanding.

He concludes:

“From an educator’s perspective, the importance of text is not simply how well students can comprehend a reading passage, but how the ideas, ideals, and values expressed in the text are internalized and then implemented by students in real life situations.

“Another way of looking at this issue is to simply ask, what would Martin Luther King, Jr. want our students to do?

“Spend two weeks deconstructing and dissecting the nuance and subtlety of his words and how well he supported his claims, or two weeks applying and teaching his principles in our schools and local communities?”

New York City and Néw York State have enthusiastically embraced the Common Core standards.

In the background, however, is a simmering–one might say boiling battle between literacy guru Lucy Calkins of Teachers College and Common Core architect David Coleman about teaching reading. Calkins supports balanced literacy, Coleman supports close reading.

The city and state adopted materials based on Coleman’s model lesson about teaching the Getysburg Address by analyzing the text.

Calkins described Coleman’s model as “a horrible lesson.” She called him “an expert in branding.” She points out that Coleman is not an educator and has never taught.

NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina has experience with balanced literacy. Her support may tilt the balance to Calkins, who has a devoted following and whose work was in favor during the Klein administration when Farina was deputy chancellor.

From our friend Robert Shepherd, who may have watched the famous video in which David Coleman–architect of the Commin Core standards, now President of the College Board, which administers the SAT, original treasurer if Muchelle Rrhee’s StudentsFirst–uttered his immortal line about how no one “gives a &@(@” what you feel or think. This was his strong denunciation of personal expository writing. One of the best responses was written by Rebecca Wallace-Segall, a teacher of creative writing, who explained how important it is to allow and encourage young people to find and use their own voices. She wrote: “And where will we be as a nation if we graduate a generation of young people who can write an academic paper on the Civil War but have no power to convey the human experience?”

For David Coleman, in Honor of Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

The very talented Peter Greene recently posted a humorous piece comparing Rheeformish language to a poop sandwich–nastiness wrapped in glowing phrases (e.g., “higher standards”). I generally love Peter’s writing, but I’ve never been fond of scatological humor. I’m not sure why I have this distaste (other than for the obvious reasons), since I consider swearing one of the most useful and engaging of the many boons conferred upon us by speech.

I once read, in “The American Scholar,” I think, or perhaps it was in “Verbatim,” a tragic report on the paucity of dedicated swear words in classical Latin. The Romans were always envious of the subtlety of the Greek tongue, of its rich resources for philosophical and literary purposes, but the Greeks were even less well endowed with profanities than the Romans were. The poor Romans had to result to graffiti, which they did with wild and glorious abandon, while the Greeks stuck to salacious decoration of vases.

I have a nice little collection of books on cursing in various languages. French, Spanish, German, Italian–the modern European languages, generally–are rich mines of lively expressions. But our language, which has been so promiscuous through the centuries, has to be the finest for cursing that we apes have yet developed. We English speakers are blessed with borrowed riches, there, that speakers of other tongues can only dream of.

So, when I watch a David Coleman video, there’s a lot for me to say, and a lot of choice language to say it with.

Those of you who are English teachers will be familiar with the Homeric catalog. It’s a literary technique that is basically a list. The simple list isn’t much to write home about, you might think, but this humble trope can be extraordinarily effective. Consider the following trove of treasures. What are these all names of? (Take a guess. Don’t cheat. The answer is below.)

Green Darner
Roseate Skimmer
Great Pondhawk
Ringed Cascader
Comet Darner
Banded Pennant
Orange Emperor
Banded Groundling
Black Percher
Little Scarlet
Tau Emerald
Southern Yellowjack
Vagrant Darter
Beautiful Demoiselle
Large Red
Mercury Bluet
Eastern Spectre
Somber Goldenring

Back to my dreams of properly cursing Coleman and the Core, of dumping the full Homeric catalog of English invective on them.

I have wanted to do so on Diane Ravitch’s blog, but Diane doesn’t allow such language in her living room, and I respect that. So I am sending this post, re Coleman and the Core, thinking that perhaps Diane won’t mind a little Shakespeare. (After all, it’s almost Shakespeare’s birthday. His 450th. Happy birthday, Willie!)

Let’s begin with some adjectives:

Artless, beslubbering, bootless, churlish, craven, dissembling, errant, fawning, forward, gleeking, impertinent, loggerheaded, mammering, merkin-faced, mewling, qualling, rank, reeky, rougish, pleeny, scurvie, venomed, villainous, warped and weedy,

And then add some compound participles:

beef-witted, boil-brained, dismal-dreaming, earth-vexing, fen-sucked, folly-fallen, idle-headed, rude-growing, spur-galled, . . .
And round it all off with a noun (pick any one that you please):

Bum-baily
Canker-blossom
Clotpole
Coxcomb
Codpiece
Dewberry
Flap-dragon
Foot-licker
Hugger-mugger
Lout
Mammet
Minnow
Miscreant
Moldwarp
Nut-hock
Puttock
Pumpion
Skainsmate
Varlet

Or, if you want whole statements from the Bard himself:

“Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of the Nile.” (worms = snakes)

“Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.”

“You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!”

“You starvelling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, you bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish–O for breath to utter what is like thee!-you tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck!”

“Thou sycophantic, merkin-faced varlet.”

“Thou cream-faced loon!”

There. Glad I got that out of my system.

BTW. Those are names of dragonflies, above. Beautiful, aren’t they? Shakespeare loved odd names of things. Scholars have shown that he used in writing a wider vocabulary than any other author who has ever wrote in our glorious tongue. Again, happy birthday, Willie. What fools those Ed Deformers be!

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