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David Coleman Was Born With A Silver Foot in his Mouth

David Coleman Was Born With A Silver Foot in his Mouth

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Published by Patrick Finn
David Coleman' elite background makes him a poor judge what excellent English Language Arts teachers coin most public school classroom.
David Coleman' elite background makes him a poor judge what excellent English Language Arts teachers coin most public school classroom.

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Published by: Patrick Finn on Mar 12, 2014
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03/12/2014

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 1
D
AVID
C
OLEMAN
S
ILVER
F
OOT
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11
D
AVID
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OLEMAN
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ORN WITH A
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OUTH
 Patrick J. Finn David Coleman, the current president of the College Board and the force behind the Common Core State Standards, grew up in downtown Manhattan as the son of a psychiatrist and a college  president. He attended Stuyvesant, a select New York City public high school where only three  percent of students who apply are admitted. He earned a
 bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Yale, a  bachelor’s in English literature at
Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar)
and a master’s in
ancient  philosophy at Cambridge. In a 2013 address to an International Reading Association meeting, Coleman stated that he felt like a piñata, he had been so battered in recent months by English language arts experts (that is
teachers
 of reading of and
teachers
 English language arts and their professional associations). He referred
several times to the “intemperate
 
language” he had used (the topic
of  Last week's Monday Morning Essay) that may have been the source of some of the tension. According to a March 2014,  New York Times article this intemperate language,
cemented his reputation among some as both insensitive and radical, the sort of self-righteous know-it-all who claimed to see something no one
else did.”
 
The tension erupted when Coleman and Susan Pimental published a paper entitled
“Publisher’s
Criteria for Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy
” It
 is highly significant that this paper is directed to the publishing industry (Education/Corporation Complex), which I believe is the intended benefactor of this new set of standards with their attendant need for teaching materials, teacher in-service training, tests, test-preparation and tutoring. The authors claimed the paper was based on
consultation with the literacy research community
. When it drew
an outcry from the literacy research community that was stunned by the authors’ ignorance of the
research and informed practice English Language Arts Coleman and Pimental revised the paper claiming once again that it was based on
consultation with the literacy research community
. Are there two such communities with diametrically opposed views? Coleman, with his elite background, seems to be wholly obliviousness to who students in the vast majority of American schools are. He has disparaged pre-reading activities such as discussing vocabulary that students might find troubling in a text and discussing the historical or geographic knowledge
that will enhance the readers’ understanding of the text. He claims activities like this
rob the students of the pleasure and excitement of discovering information from reading the selection itself. In his defense, he read from a letter from a letter from Walter Kintsch stating that is
hard to know how much background is needed, that it’s an individual th
ing, but it should not be over done. Well, none of us saw that coming. Critics have also accused Coleman of not understanding the concept of
students’
motivation (or lack of motivation, much less student resistance), He insists that he does, and to prove it he describes a classroom activity for teaching the
Gettysburg Address,
a very short text where the
 
word
dedicate
 appears six times. He would have students discuss the differences in meaning, nuance, implication, and so on of
dedicate
each time it appears. He suggests
that this kind of “close reading” of the
document be addressed for the entirety of three successive class periods, and he says finally to his International Reading Association audience
, “We would all be very interested.”
 
Lucy Calkins, the founding director of the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University’s

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