Posts Tagged ‘David Coleman’

A Chronicle of Echoes by Mercedes Schneider Reviewed by Patrick Walsh

September 19, 2014

Duncan To Marry Common Core Standards

March 13, 2014
Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stunned much of official Washington today when he announced that he plans to legally marry the Common Core State Standards “sometime in the very near future.” Mr. Duncan made his announcement at a press conference in the Rose Garden, surrounded by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, former CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund.

Reporters appeared to be momentarily silenced by what many considered the strangeness of the statement but quickly recovered and questioned both the timing of Duncan’s announcement and the authenticity of Duncan’s motives, as well as the legality of the act itself.
Duncan denied that the wedding was a symbolic gesture or a publicity stunt designed
to draw attention away from the volcanic parental rejection of the CCSS across
the country, especially in New York State.

“This is about love, said Duncan, his voice at times cracking with emotion and his eyes appearing to tear. “True and abiding love. And there’s no doubt in my
mind that the love I feel for the Core, the Core
feels for all the children of America, every last one of
them and especially those we want to help close the achievement gap.”

Duncan acknowledged that there are legal challenges in the unprecedented mating of man and document but, with Attorney General Eric Holder’s blessing, is determined to “ break new ground in the civil rights issue of our time.” Duncan links the proposed union to the larger struggle. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times,
education is the civil rights issue of our age. Our marriage is just another Rosa Parks’ moment on our way to helping all of our children become college and career ready.” Duncan, still legally married to Karen Luann Duncan, acknowledged that before the marriage to the Common Core could take place he had to first divorce his current wife. Holder is said to be personally involved in this process which he is prepared to expedite.

Duncan would neither deny nor confirm the rumor that Andrew Cuomo offered the use of the Governors mansion in Albany New York for the ceremony but did acknowledge that Cuomo would be a guest at the wedding.
A press release from the Department of Education revealed that the ceremony would be a gala and star-studded event with guests including Mark Zuckerberg, Wendy Kopp, Randi Weingarten, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Bloomberg, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Bill and Melinda Gates, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Bono, Eli Broad, David Coleman, Rupert Murdoch, John Legend, Jeb Bush, Thomas Friedman, Kid Rock, Bill Keller, Corey Booker, Whitney Tilson, Caroline Kennedy, as well as President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The ceremony will be presided over by President Obama. David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core Standards, will give away the bride. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Educators Association will serve as best man while American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten has agreed to be the maid of honor.

The event will take place in an undisclosed location and will be funded in its entirety by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Note: This post is dedicated to the pea-heads in both the DOE and the NYPD who thought it a good idea to throw my courageous friend and colleague Francesco Portelos in jail for 33 hours for writing a piece as silly as this. Good thinking fellas! These are strange and terrifying times in which we dwell and we need more than ever to look after each other.

More on the Common Core: Does “College and Career Readiness” Mean Being Educated ?

February 21, 2014

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I suppose I have heard the phrase “college and career ready” a couple of thousand times in the last year or so. Outside of a national uprising that would send the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards back to whence they came,
I’m quite certain that, along with “rigor” and “critical thinking,” I will hear some variation of these words a few thousands times more in the next year or two. Making American students “college and career ready”, you understand, is what the Common Core State Standards are all about. (Well, that and making billions of dollars for Common Core curriculum writing companies, Common Core aligned textbook companies, Common Core aligned test making companies and Common Core computer software companies to grade the Common Core tests.)

As a goal at any rate, who can argue with making American students “career and college ready?”
“Not I”, said the Grey Goose.

And what’s more, according to its devotees, the CCSS can somehow tell if a student is on tract for “college and career readiness” as early as kindergarten! (Psssssssst. A word to the wise: most kindergarteners are not on track for “college and career”, almost certainly due to a “bad teacher” who must be removed post haste. )

Again, as a goal, who could argue with that?

Not I said the Red Hen!

(And, yes, they do seem to actually believe this madness.)

Putting aside for the moment the fact that the knowledge and skills required to have “a career” ( a career in what you may ask ? Plumbing? Carpentry? Sales? Pizza delivery person? Nurse ? ) and those needed for the demands of college are very, different things, indeed. But somehow, in some way that has yet to be explained, the magical Common Core can be applied to both.

Quite the trick.

Having never seen anything remotely approximating a definition, I myself am not really sure what it means to be “college and career ready.” I suspect being college ready has everything to do reducing or eliminating the need of inner city freshman college students for remedial courses in English and math; a need that “reformers”, as is their habit with dealing with inner city problems, have falsely insinuated is a nation-wide crisis. Still, I’m not sure. I’m also not sure how the “rigor” and “critical thinking” induced by the CCSS can possibly be measured by standardized tests which are marked by computers, which is yet another corporate windfall created by the Common Core.

Oh well, life is teeming with mysteries and there are millions of things I’m not sure about but what can you do?

But what is not so mysterious is the not –so- subtle reduction of all schools, save those of the children of the elite, to what are essentially job training programs as opposed to, say, educational institutions. And this reduction is also at work, at an ever escalating and disturbing rate, in colleges and universities: in all but the elite colleges and universities, departments of philosophy, theology, art, language, theatre, and science have all been radically reduced or eliminated altogether. Everything, that is, that has deepened and widened the human imagination and allowed civilization to make its slow, circuitous, often bloody emergence from the pit of “the war of one man against all men ” to a dignified life worth living.

This is not at all to diminish the practical aspects of education. Every parent wishes, at the very least, to see their child prepared to go to work in a decent job for decent money. With work comes dignity and a place in the world. A world without work, even temporarily, can be utterly demoralizing, that much more in America where we work longer and harder than any industrialized nation. I know. I have been unemployed – thankfully for short periods — and it is brutal.

That said, allow me to also say that there is something morally criminal in reducing the idea of education, for all but the children of the elite, to job training. If you think I exaggerate, ponder the following remarkable sentiment from non-teacher and educational entrepreneur David Coleman, considered the architect of the Common Core, at a formal presentation of the New York State Department of Education in April 2011:
“As you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think”.

In the other countries in which I’ve lived it was simply understood that an educated person would know at least something of the subjects above and their vital importance in making life worth living. I’d bet ten to one that any child educated in Ireland will not merely know math and science but, for example, can recite poems by Yeats in their entirety and know why they are important. Ten to one that any child educated in Spain will know who Miguel de Unamuno was and what he brought into the world. Ten to one every child in Greece knows who Sappho was. What’s more, no teacher in his or her right mind believes that the study of the work of such people will help students find jobs. But that’s not the point. And that’s not the purpose of education. At any rate, it is not the only purpose and in a world where work is vanishing due to some of the same forces that are driving “education reform” — globalization and the technological takeover of everything that can be taken over — it could be argued that it is not even one that is possible.

Which leads me to my central question: Does being “college and career ready” and being educated mean the same thing? Are they even the same goals?

I think not. And not merely because I have never heard the Common Core cheerleaders once use the word “educated.” I think not because I have read the Common Core State Standards and, even putting aside the entire monstrous package deal that goes with them, I find them largely appalling. I understand completely why they are so relentlessly endorsed by the Business Round Table and the like. I understand completely that they are completely the product of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Certain questions, it seems to me, are eternally open. The question of what it means to be educated is one of them. I humbly submit a few of my thoughts on this question and invite you to add your own.

An educated person would understand that job training and education are radically different endeavors.
An educated person would have the ability to not merely choose between Coke and Pepsi but the ability to critique a system that produces such a “choice. ”

An educated person understands that technology is not science and data is information and not knowledge and that knowledge is not wisdom.

An educated person understands that technology is never value free.

An educated person would understand, on some level, the meaning of the statement “All philosophy is commentary on Plato. ” They would also know how such a statement could apply to all of the other arts and sciences.
An educated person would have at least some rudimentary knowledge of the great narratives, both secular and religious, that have shaped our world, institutions and consciousness.

An educated person would know the definitions of the words “sublime” and “transcendent “ and, even at the age of 10, be capable of articulating examples of both.

An educated person would not confuse data with reality.

An educated person would know that participation is vital in the establishment and maintenance of a functioning democracy. They would know too that when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance, “ he was not talking about external enemies.

Above all, an educated person would have an understanding of what is happening to him or her, why it is happening and who and what are making it happen and be able to articulate a response to what they see.

I invite you to send your own ideas on the same.

Reign of Error – Book Review – Truthdig

December 6, 2013

Reign of Error – Book Review – Truthdig.

Are New York Times Opinion Writers Too Coddled?

November 25, 2013


For the fourth time in as many months the stately New York Times, “the paper of record “ and all that, has published yet another remarkably uninformed opinion piece attempting to defend the deceptively named Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by discrediting those who refuse to genuflect before them.

A vast and unprecedented national experiment on American’s children, paved by sound bites and steamrolled into reality by billionaires and testing companies, the recently implemented CCSS has been furiously rejected by an ever-increasing army of parents, disgusted and dismayed at what it is doing to their children. The standards, you could say, are going over like a lead zeppelin. Except that is, at institutions like the New York Times whose writers see light where parents see darkness and crazed Tea Partiers where others see concerned parents.

And once again the New York Times, here in the person of Frank Bruni, comes to the rescue with an article titled, “Are Kids Too Coddled? ” Like every one who attempts to defend an untested experiment, Bruni, like NYT’s writers Bill Keller, Paul Krugman and Charles Blow before him, has very few hands to play. One is to repeat ad nauseum the standards creators’ stated goals of inducing critical thinking skills, making students college and career ready (as if they are the same thing) and preparing them to compete for jobs in the super savage new global economy. One must repeat these aspirations as if they are hard proven facts. Indeed, as if constant repetition makes them into hard proven facts. As of now, defenders have nothing to offer but hope, a quality that has lost a lot of its market value following the election of Barack Obama. A second strategy, and one favored by the Times and Arne Duncan, is to attack the credibility of all those who dare question the Most Holy and Sacred Core.

Bruni was inspired to action by parental reaction against Arne Duncan’s latest insult. You know, the one about the “white suburban moms” whose kids the Common Core is exposing as “not as brilliant as they thought they were.”
Bruni looks not at the CCSS itself, of which he apparently knows only what is claimed for it in press releases, but instead follows “the fevered lamentations over the Common Core” to “ look hard at some of the complaints from the parents and teachers and factor in the modern cult of self-esteem.”

In short order, Bruin determines that the problem with the CCSS is not with the CCSS itself – a self evident impossibility for New York Times opinion writers — but that parents are surrendering to the impulse to coddle their kids.


Even as I share Mr. Bruni’s disdain for the once faddish “cult of self esteem, “ I can honestly say that I have seen very, very, little evidence of such a cult in all my years teaching. What I see daily, however, is lots, and lots and lots of evidence of the cult of the Common Core. That which one shall not question. That which thou shall obey. That which knoweth all. And as for coddling, musing over their anemic arguments, I could not help but wonder if the editors of the Times are coddling their opinion writers — at least when they are writing about the Common Core.

I’m not joking. Consider Bruni’s article. Bruni begins with an anecdotal story about a silly decision made by administrators at a school near Boston, fattens it up with more meaningless anecdotes about sports leagues where no one loses and high schools with 30 valedictorians that have no conceivable connection with the rage and disgust parents feel about the effects of the CCSS on their kids. Or the intrinsic data mining. Or the high stakes testing that are part and parcel with the scheme and of which Bruni says nada. Zilch. Nothing.
As a non-coddling editor (or even a high school English teacher) I would never accept Bruni’s specious attempt to wed the wholly unconnected scenarios. I’d send him back to work. Not, it seems, the Times.

Consider that the Times were apparently fine with the fact that the only two people Bruni actually bothered to speak to — education entrepreneur and “architect of the Common Core” David Coleman and Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy — could not have been more predicable or less challenging interviewees. Or had greater stakes in seeing criticisms of the CCSS dismissed as political lunacy or psychological weakness.

Were the editors of the Times worried that talking to real parents who have concluded that the CC is damaging to their children might be damaging to Bruni’s self esteem?
Consider Bruni’s s bi-partisan expansion of nut-job opponents of the CCSS complementing fellow Times writer Bill Keller’s earlier depictions of CCSS opponents,as Tea Partiers. Were the editors concerned that indisputable facts from some of the “ left-wing paranoiacs” ( Diane Ravitch, for example, along with millions of American parents) who Bruni sees “imagining some conspiracy to ultimately privatize education and create a new frontier of profits for money-mad plutocrats, — (many of whom who are named as benefactors of Tucker’s NCEE and every other “reformer” front group) “might shatter Bruni’s fragile sense of reality ?
Note to Bruni: Former Assistant Secretary of Education and Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error, is subtitled, The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.)

Are the editors of the Times so concerned with sheltering the psyches of their opinion writers that they allow them to publish on vast, far reaching and shadowy issues like the CCSS while not requiring them to do the slightest bit of research into who funded such programs and why? And how they dare impose such a thing on an entire nation without as much as a field test ?

Will America be allowing pharmaceutical companies to do the same if desired by Bill Gates and the Business Round Table ?

I don’t know about you but such lousy writing and thinking sure smells like coddling to me.

Addendum: I learned only after I had written this piece that Bruni is a food critic, a fact that partially explains his complete ignorance of the subject on which he pontificated but does not excuse his arrogance. The fact that the New York Times allowed a food critic ample space in which to babble on about education is merely a continuation of their unstated but apparent belief that just about everyone is an expert on education excepting the people actually engaged in it on a daily basis, which is to say, teachers or, through their children, parents.

Post script: Herein is a link to an article in a mainstream news outlet reporting a secret meeting of millionaires and billionaires, among them Gates, Bloomberg and Jeb Bush, all whom are deeply involved and invested in “education reform. Mr. Gates claimed the meeting concerned the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which it may well have done. But anyone who has been in anyway following anything that has been done in education for the past decade knows the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation has bankrolled and largely dictated just about every aspect of it. They also know that Arne Duncan takes his marching orders from Gates and that the Common Core is largely the product of Gates and his Foundation. Indeed, it is impossible to conceive of “education reform” without the Foundation. This, despite the fact that Gates is a private citizen and the DOE is a vital public trust.
Given this, I would love to hear Mr. Bruni and anyone else who speaks so contemptuously of “left wing paranoia” explain this little gathering of concerned citizens.