The Architect of Common Core, David Coleman (AKA The Man Behind the Curtain)

September 10, 2013 at 5:00 am / by

About Macey France

Oregon PolitiChick Macey France is co-founder of the Stop Common Core in Oregon and is working with parents across the state to educate and help them to learn how to advocate for their children's education.… More

Whenever I think of David Coleman, Common Core’s architect, I always get a visual of the Great and Powerful Oz proclaiming, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”  Pay no attention to the man creating the illusion of fewer, clearer, higher standards. Pay no attention to the man responsible for the change of the entire American educational system.

They call him “the Most Influential  Education Figure You’ve Never Heard Of.” Many pieces have portrayed him as a Jewish man with colorful socks who speaks at an urgent clip. As a child who grew up in downtown Manhattan with a college president for a mother and psychiatrist for a father, they verbally sparred at the dinner table, often having discussions about books he read and movies he saw.

His parents cared more about the quality of what he did then by other traditional measures of success, he says. What a wonderful picture of childhood ala Coleman.

Make no mistake, though, he has an agenda. What is his agenda? Transforming the American education system to fit his lofty ideas of what “real” education is. And it has nothing to do with learning useful skills to help you, say, write a cohesive and grammatically correct resume or long division.

After high school, Coleman attended Yale, where he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to the University of Oxford. Upon returning to New York, from Oxford, he applied to a high school teaching job and was turned down. He ended up working for a consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, where he advised public schools and became a fixture at New York City Department of Education meetings.

You know what they say, “If you can’t do, teach”. I don’t buy that. But in this case, if you can’t teach, you create an entire national set of educational standards to be used in virtually every American classroom. That makes sense, no? Who better than someone who has never had any K-12 experience, at all?

Fast forward to the “now” Coleman who in a conversation with David Farris, president of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, said that he didn’t like the database all that well. “It was not originally part of the Common Core, but other people have seized the opportunity to make a centralized data collection effort through the implementation of the Common Core.” This was in response to Farris’s position on the Statewide Longitudinal Database which will collect every piece of information it can on your child, your child’s teacher and yourself and put it in a huge data hub, going directly to the federal government.

Oh, but hold that thought, Mr. Coleman! What is this piece we find on Missouri Education Watchdog? It’s a small video where Coleman discusses his love of the Strategic Data Project, which not coincidentally, is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation is currently paying large amounts of money, in the form of grants, to different educational resources across the nation for their support of the Common Core. In other words, they’re pushing Common Core as hard as a drug dealer pushes crack. No, Coleman loves data collection. He points out that data collection is a huge reason behind Obama winning the presidency. They were able to collect and research data on segments of the country that they could then strategically target with Obama ads, in order to hopefully garner more votes.

Let’s recap what we have so far. We have discovered the quirky Coleman with the colorful socks. We have found the Coleman who never taught in a classroom. We have the double talking Coleman who tells Farris he is uncomfortable with data collection, yet touts its virtues as an “untapped national resource” in a speech to data analysts in Boston.

Let’s move on to the foul-mouthed Coleman. In a presentation to the New York State Department of Education in 2011, we find Coleman discussing popular types of writing in high school. One of the most popular with be what he refers to as “personal” writing. This is what David Coleman has to say to those pesky, self-involved teens:  “As you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a sh** about what you feel or what you think.”

He has an opinion on what he sees as the watered down curriculum that is in American classrooms currently.

“I’m scared of rewarding bullsh**,” he says.

Quirky, never taught a day in his life, double speaking, data loving, foul-mouthed, and now president of the College Board where he is working on rewriting the SATs to align with the Common Core.

But it gets better folks. Perhaps my favorite version of Coleman can be seen in this video. This is the Coleman we caught with his pants down, so to speak.

This is the David Coleman who completely debunks the Common Core advocates’ claims that the nation’s governors got together and created these standards themselves.

Watch as he brags about having to convince governor’s in adopting these standards:

I don’t know about you, but this video makes me positively giddy. It sounds like the people promoting Common Core have lied about one of the most fundamental aspects of the initiative. The guy who was one of the main architects of the standards lies about his not being comfortable with data collection. And they all deny the intrusive data mining happening from birth to career.

This leads me to ask you one question:  Do you really want these kinds of people in charge of your children’s education?

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Macey France

Oregon PolitiChick Macey France is co-founder of the Stop Common Core in Oregon and is working with parents across the state to educate and help them to learn how to advocate for their children's education. Macey has spoken at many Common Core informational meetings across the state of Oregon. Macey’s articles on Common Core have been picked up by various news outlets and she has been a guest on many radio shows across the nation. Macey’s article about The Bluest Eye was featured on a panel on Al Jazeera America and was nominated for a CPAC Blogger Award for Best Sunlight Post of 2013. Macey is a strong conservative with libertarian leanings, making her more of a "conservatarian." Preserving the constitutional and moral values of that this great nation was founded on for her children is her priority. She is a stay at home mom of two boys who are now in elementary school. As a mom who has always been interested in politics, religion and all of the taboo subjects, she has always had a lot to say about the state of the nation. When she realized the Common Core Standards were not only bad news for children but a government coup over education, she decided to fight back and is now considered one of the nation's leading experts on all-things-Common Core. When she's not having uncomfortable arguments with strangers on Facebook she can be found spending time with her husband of 15 years and two sons. Find Macey France on Facebook and Twitter: @MaceyFrancePC

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  1. Pushfoot says:

    This article needs a proofreader, big time. Particularly if you are going to indicate that a goal of education should be the ability to “write a cohesive and grammatically correct resume,” you should be very critical of your own writing prior to publication. (The very sentence from which I took the quote is a good example.)

    • Pushfoot says:

      Please understand, I am not pointing this out because of disagreement with your premise. I just feel strongly that an article about educational issues should be as carefully presented as possible, that the message behind it doesn’t get lost behind distracting grammar. I’m not a professional proofreader, but (or maybe “therefore?”) here are a few of the errors I found most glaring, with my suggested corrections:

      “His parents cared more about the quality of what he did then by other traditional measures of success, he says.” — Change “then by” to “than about” and this sentence makes a lot more sense.

      “And it has nothing to do with learning useful skills to help you, say, write a cohesive and grammatically correct resume or long division.” — You need a verb before “long division.” I’d suggest “perform” or “solve.”

      “Upon returning to New York, from Oxford, he applied to a high school teaching job and was turned down.” — Remove the comma following “New York,” and change “applied to” into “applied for.”

      ‘You know what they say, “If you can’t do, teach”.’ — Period inside the quotation marks, please. I think a colon would be better than the comma before the quote, also, but the comma is fine.

      “One of the most popular with be what he refers to as “personal” writing.” — I think “with” was meant to be “would.”

      “Watch as he brags about having to convince governor’s in adopting these standards:” — Drop the apostrophe, change “in adopting” to “to adopt.”

      There are other things that, had I been consulted prior to publication, I would have suggested as rewrites, but those would be matters of taste more than actual errors.

      If you make the edits that I suggest, I would not object to having my comments removed from the page. I’m not sharing these to get attention; I just want your article to punch with all the power of your passion.

      • jamesrwilliams says:

        Attacking the article instead of attacking the problem is deliberate blindness which leads to self inflicted ignorance. Sounds like you’re attempting to direct the readers attention to faults of the author rather than the faults of the subject. How long have you been a liberal democrat?

        • Pushfoot says:

          How I would love to show this reply to my family and friends, to ask whether they agree with your assessment of my political leanings.

          My longer post, which I imagine received enough “down” votes that Politichicks deleted it, was not directed to readers but to the author. My hope was that she would take it in the spirit in which it was intended, one of camaraderie and helpfulness, hopefully correct the errors, and delete my post. I even suggested that she delete it because I didn’t want her errors OR my corrections to detract from her message.

          When did we reach a point that all attempts to correct problems are treated as an attack? Is this what comes of students being told that there are no wrong answers, of everyone receiving a trophy whether their efforts are good enough or not? The world tells us that a child’s fragile ego must be coddled and protected from all abuses — and correction suddenly became treated as an abuse. Walk the hallways of your elementary school, and you will see children’s writings posted on the walls, backward letters and bad grammar, with no mark of correction on it lest the child’s ego be hurt. And I’m not talking about just the Kindergarten hall. Teaching has turned into back-patting. “Good effort, Jimmy!” “Great ideas!”

          And you, Mr. Williams, have just stood up and said that this is the way it should be.

          I believe there are wrong answers. Common Core is an excellent example of a wrong answer. War with Syria? Wrong answer. Obamacare? Wrong answer.

          I believe that good communication requires skill. I believe that there is value behind traditional English and punctuation. I believe that words have power, and the right words have more power. I believe that teaching involves correction as well as encouragement.

          Liberal Democrat. Ha ha ha! Thank you for giving me something laugh about today.

      • GAD says:

        I wish you had taken the time you spent on this to tweet or write to a legislator, BoE member or Principal. That might just make a difference to this fight.

        I am however glad you noticed the passion Macey writes with. She is making a difference every day, she pours her heart and soul into this fight. I want to read and feel the passion and I don’t really care about whether a comma is missing or not. Because of her passion and determination she is a star in my eyes, and I am proud to stand by her in this fight.

        Please free to correct my grammar too.

        • Pushfoot says:

          It looks like when I deleted a reply earlier, I deleted the wrong one. The one I thought I deleted, for some reason now shows as a guest post, which probably means I can’t delete it now. In the reply which I thought I deleted, I wrongly attributed Mr. Williams’ “liberal Democrat” to you. I realized it almost immediately after writing it, then scrolled back down… and apparently deleted the wrong reply. Yes, two more lovely big mistakes of my own.

          I don’t normally correct grammar uninvited, and I do my best to ignore it in comments and replies because I know that they are generally written quickly, passionately, without a lot of time to reread and self-edit. Your grammar was fine, as you know.

          What I meant to leave here was (a) you are right; I do need to make efforts to “fight the fight” myself. I have not felt knowledgeable about Common Core because all of my sources are second-hand, at best, therefore I have not written anyone in authority. Your call to action is leading me to finally take the steps to begin researching for myself, instead of just reading articles and blogs. I also meant to say (b) thank you for not responding to me with venom.

          For the record, I am a stay-at-home mom, with children in high school, middle school, and Kindergarten. From what I have seen written about Common Core, it scares me. I worry about the lies that my children are told in school. I worry most about the things they don’t tell me, the lies they have learned to accept so much that they don’t stand out as something to be questioned. My husband is anti-home schooling, and there is no money for private schools.

          I feel like I am in an ocean of Common Core up to my eyes, only able to breathe between waves. I’m desperate to protect my children from the danger but I don’t know how, my own footing is unsecured, and the distant voices I hear are shouting about the danger of the water — which I already know — but they don’t tell me where to go to get out of it. I don’t know where to go for original sources. I don’t know where to go for support. Close to me I only hear, “You’re not a very strong swimmer; why don’t you let us take your children? We’ll keep them safe, and even teach them to swim. Our way.”

          I am scared, and overwhelmed.

          • GAD says:

            Pushfoot, first of all I respect the fact that you have apologized to Macey so publicly. That takes a lot of guts.

            Secondly, you have come to the right place for support. Macey is part of a much larger Stop Common Core family and we have each others back. We can always use another family member so our door is wide open for you to come and visit.

            My wife and I were in the same situation as you about 6 months ago. We ended up starting a FB Group “Stop Common Core in New York State” and creating an informational web site just for parents who are finding their feet and are overwhelmed like we were. Please feel free to join us or go to the CC Links page on our web site and see which FB group/page is most suitable for you based on your location.

            Still not sure, contact me via our web site and we will steer you right.

          • Pushfoot says:

            Thank you for the link to your website, and for your kind words. Macey’s forgiveness and your acceptance have brought tears to my eyes this evening. I have literally felt sick since I realized just how ugly my words had been.

            I will definitely be studying some of the materials you have on your site, and now I’ve found a group for Ohio, too, so I can get involved in the fight in my own backyard as well. There is a big vote Thursday or Friday. I’ve got to learn some things quickly.

    • Anne Miller says:

      Pushfoot, grammatical and spelling errors grate on my nerves (especially when they’re my own) like nails on a chalkboard. That’s just the kind of OCD’d person I am. It’s MY issue. Letting it get in the way of such an urgent message as this expressed so brilliantly as Macey France has is like throwing away a diamond because it got a smudge on it. It’s value doesn’t change and it can still cut through almost anything (including the CC propaganda machine which David Coleman designed and operates). And when you clean it up, it only sparkles more beautifully. Macey can auto correct her spelling and grammar with the click of a button and her article is still a gem. “That’s why they put erasers on pencils.”

      The real problem here is that people like you spend your time strutting your spelling and grammatical prowess while the likes of David Coleman takes over the entire educational system of the country from the national level. Why don’t you start looking at something that really matters?

      Bravo Macey!!

  2. Lydia says:

    Macey, thank you for the important work that you do in exposing the players behind Common Core…great article!

  3. Julie K says:

    Great article Macey! So many of so called “education reformers” have spent 0 hours in the classroom. We have a whole slew of them teaching our up and coming classroom teachers in our universities and colleges. Sounds like Coleman is your typical liberal elitists who feels he knows far better than what teachers and parents know what actually works to educate our children.

    • Macey says:

      None of my article counts because the grammar Nazi has exposed me as the ignorant hick that I am. ;)

      • Julie K says:

        I just ignore and move on. In fact wouldn’t it be nice if there was an ignore button!! :)

      • Pushfoot says:

        Macey, I am so sorry. Whether or not you believe it, it wasn’t intended as an “exposure.” I don’t think you are an ignorant hick.

        Writers for YEARS have had the shield of editors to help them, to protect their messages. Now the Internet has come along and wiped that away, and at the same time we have been indoctrinated that any correction is a slap in the face. It isn’t. This wasn’t meant to be.

        I honestly wrote what I did in the hopes that I could use my skills to help you. I don’t have the knowledge that you do about Common Core. I greatly respect your efforts to expose it. I appreciate your sharing what you have learned about Mr. Coleman, and I hope that everyone in the United States reads it, that he is exposed for the humbug that he is.

        I’m sorry.

        • Macey says:

          Thank you for that, Pushfoot. I hate when typos slip through or when I see that I should have changed something. My problem is that I had written 3 pieces that day and that was my last one…my eye wasn’t as critical at that point.
          We’re very accustomed to people pointing out mistakes and they usually do so because they disagree with what we wrote and that is why we are on the defensive with those things.
          All is well. Thanks so much for such a sincere apology.

        • jocasseejo says:

          I teach my children that being able to apologize is truly the better part of valor :-)

  4. Parent Led Reform Oregon says:

    Macey, you hit it out of the ballpark with this one! Great job on exposing the Great and Powerful Oz of Education!

  5. GAD says:

    Macey, just keep on doing what you do best, expose the underbelly of this beast. People need to know who the architects are of Common Core so they can understand how we got into this mess. Don’t let BigFoot, sorry PushFoot, put you off. This is not about grammar but about passion, commitment and dedication. You have plenty of that, and THAT will make the difference. Keep up the good fight, right there with you.

    • Guest says:

      My father gave me the nickname Pushfoot because I was so slow to do anything as a child. Today I am slowly putting my Pushfoot into my mouth.

      I’m really not the scumbag I sound like in that post. I apologize to Macey, and to you, GAD, because when I read your reply to me I had not gone back and re-read the only part of what I wrote that still stands. It’s no wonder you thought I was a liberal Democrat.

  6. Bill says:

    Since we have filled almost all of the elected offices with people who have never held a job, never served in defense of the country, only 30% can answer the very basic questions on the Constitution but never use that knowledge, college instructors with anti American radicals, that teach their opinion rather than the subject they are paid to teach, and college graduates who find it impossible to name the three branches of government, prez, vice prez, speaker of the house, and not one supreme court justice. Plus a college graduate today can not pass an eighth grade history test from 1900.
    And then we come to the data mining and the use the government will use it for. A short time ago I saw an interview with several psychologists employed by the government to study the data in question. Although they admitted they were not at the goal of the study, they did estimate just a few more years. What is the goal? To study and forecast the students future. Who will attain what level of education, what vocation will be allowed, “worker bees”, or “elites”.
    But we the people have nothing to worry about. The government will take care of everything.

    • Annie says:

      You might not realize it but your criticism of our students’ lack of knowledge is a vote to go to common core. What you are saying is that our current education system is failing. That’s what common core says. Your dislike of government is shading your views.

  7. Common Sense says:

    A group of people created standards that you don’t like. What do you want the standards to be?

    • A Teacher AND AMom says:

      I’d love to hear the answer to this question. If you don’t want “him” in charge of your kids’ education, who DO you want? Who do you think has been in charge of their education until now? Parents claim they have no “control” with the CCSS, my question is, how much control have you ever had?

  8. thefog says:

    The quirky bass playing Christian man (Huckabee) with the colorful facial expressions is defending CC on his Manhattan based national T.V. program. Sorry, one cheap shot deserves another.

  9. thefog says:

    The quirky, bass playing Christian minister (Huckabee) with the colorful facial expressions is using his Manhattan based national T.V. show to defend CC. Sorry, one cheap shot deserves another. Religious Jews, homeschooling Jews, and Conservative Jews do not identify with Coleman and do not want CC. Coleman is Jewish like Hilary is Christian. You just threw that in there to fan the flames and scapegoat Jews. 99% of Americans are Gentile.

  10. awkingsley says:

    U.S, Foreign Policy is also its Domestic Policy. That policy is to encourage factions, in order to destroy the government. End cohesiveness to gain control. Unfortunately, many Jewish people are Marxist Liberals in their politics. Now, one of those types has attacked the education system.

  11. finishstrongdoc says:

    Everyone talks about “control” as if there were some big mystery about who has it and why it is possessed. What you’re really talking about is power. And power is, by Constitutional mandate, from the people. Now, if someone were to usurp the people’s power, it would have to come from taking it from parents’ power to be the first teachers of their children. All you have to do to accomplish that is simply to take the power in your own small group’s hands and change the standards by which children and teachers are measured, and viola, you have that power. The homeschooling movement is the only buffer against this usurpation of power. As long as people have to pay heavy taxes and now heavy fees to afford health insurance, they will not have the time, energy nor, frankly, the inclination to think about anything other than working to afford the basic necessities of life, plus support the burdens imposed upon them by the Welfare State. The teachers, like the Big Brother Government, ostensibly work for the people. In reality, however, now the people work for the state. Welcome to Amerika, the Land of the Fee and the Home of the Slaves.

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