David Coleman’s Politeness Doesn’t Equal Honesty

coleman1Following-up on the post I wrote a couple of days ago about Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association sharing recap of a conversation he had with David Coleman about the Common Core.

Missouri Education Watchdog makes a great point – we really can’t trust what David Coleman has to say because he’ll tell you what he thinks you want to hear.

For instance regarding data collection. Farris wrote:

When he asked me why I thought that the Common Core was worse than other standards, I indicated that one of my chief concerns was the creation of the database that would track students throughout their educational career.

His answer surprised me. 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. We talked about many other details, but these were some of the most important.

It should surprise him, but unfortunately it really isn’t true. I posted in June about a speech Coleman gave on student data.


He seemed to like the database just fine then, an excerpt of a transcript from his speech courtesy of Missouri Education Watchdog.

That is to put this more forcefully for those of us who debate this matter, we all have to I think in our field wonder at, be scared by, the findings of my unrelated but mighty predecessor Coleman [Coleman Report 1969] and I’m with a lot of people who understand the stuff so I’m wading into dangerous territory, but as I understand the Coleman report of 1969 I believe, what he devastatingly finds through extensive research is that schools do not matter in changing, largely except for some, in changing the poverty of children. What I mean by that is rather than our dream that public schooling is a force, a substantial one of opportunity and changing the differences between wealthy and poor, that public schooling does not has such power. It largely recapitulates the same income effects we see outside of school.

Tom is that a fair summary? Think about that guys, I just want to pause. Imagine if someone came here and said, not you’re an education reform community, you’re going to go changing the world, go! [Instead] they said, you are irrelevant. All your efforts are for naught.

What we can discover about your kids before they enter your institution is the same as those they leave. You live in a fantasy world in which you imagine yourself changing kids’ lives but the combined effect of your action is zero. Better if you were to live a life of leisure and not to work so hard.

I’d just think that sometimes when something is so stunning we repress it. Does that make any sense? When a finding is so scary it’s like by far the highest quality piece of research, so it’s like this is like a real problem to us. So in the years after Coleman, right where where this is finding that schools can’t change the force of poverty overall, there’s a stunning additional finding which is it’s not schools that can but individual teachers—but not if you treat them the same—that’s the problem. Right, this kind of reference for teachers. Which we all should share cannot blind us to the fact that they’re materially different and there’s a top quartile of teachers that bring substantial change in students’ lives.

That actually seems to offer a effects: we only have to see how durable they are over time, but seems to offer effects that breathe on the achievement gap.What I’m trying to say here it is it’s not that the teachers and effective ones haven’t had an effect, but it’s large enough that we should take it seriously in responding to the achievement gap.

I say this because we pursue a lot of education reforms even though their effects are so incremental, so small that while they may be significant in a statistical sense they have no real bearing on the life chances of children.

Why, the achievement gap? If you estimate it, 36 points roughly on a scale of 100 correct? If you look at many education reforms, people are like great, we invested all this money, it’s a couple of points it’s it’s significant. Let’s do more of it. Imagine you’re thirty-six points back and we got a bunch of adults were like we’re so great Johnny’s on path, he’s one or two points more ahead than he used to be.

But teacher effects are roughly ten points between the top quartile and the bottom quartile and we do have to see how they’re sustained. But I just wanna make clear we have to pay attention when we’re using data and evidence to measure the effect as well as the strength of the evidence.

He seems fine with data collection, but even if what he said to Farris is true – those behind the Common Core now plan to use it for data collection and this is from Coleman’s lips as told by Farris.

Anyway the lesson here, as Missouri Education Watchdog puts it, and I concur, is to “be careful not to confuse polite tone or professional demeanor with honesty.”

6 thoughts on “David Coleman’s Politeness Doesn’t Equal Honesty

  1. There are states with the data requirements without the Common Core, although it seems to necessitate it. The “real” place where the data sets show up is in the ESEA Flexibility documents. Further, because teacher evaluations in closing achievement gaps will include consideration of the teacher’s use of data to drive student learning, the data process is in place irrespective of a state’s use of the Common Core.

  2. Mr. Vander Hart, thanks for your post pointing out Coleman did in fact gild the lily when he told Farris he didn’t like data either.

    I wanted to let you know (not to blow my own horn, but to give credit where it is due) that I translated the original Coleman video and Missouri Education Watchdog picked it up and appropriately credited my blog, Potter Williams Report as the originator.

    See link to my post: http://potterwilliamsreport.com/2013/06/16/20130616.aspx

    Thanks for spreading the message!

    Ann Kane

  3. I am glad we are working on not being suckers…..not that I don’t wish for sociopathic Marxists, Darwinists, and holier than thou British style uperclass snobs to read Adam Smith and finally accept the truth ….we are all created equal….of course I wish they would start loving our kids and finding Jesus….but heavon knows we must be realistic. Common Core complete with data mining and Chicago math is just the latest tightening of the “slavery of the mind” noose. They have been plotting for a very long time. We should stop expecting Major Hassan to love Western Civilization too. Political correctness and being suckers is like cancer.

Comments are closed.