David Coleman, the Most Influential Education Figure You've Never Heard Of

Common Core Author Is Redesigning the SATs and AP Program

thinkstock

By Joy Resmovits

Published August 25, 2013, issue of August 30, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

As a boy growing up in downtown Manhattan with a college president for a mother and psychiatrist for a father, David Coleman often had lively and lacerating dinner table conversations.

“My parents, while both working, were home every night at dinner,” said Coleman, now 43. The family wasn’t satisfied with easy repartee. If Coleman went to a movie or read a book, his parents wanted to know what he learned from the experience. Coleman often found himself arguing a point before he took the first bite, an eagerness that both charmed and aggravated his parents.

David Coleman
college board
David Coleman

“They cared more about the quality of what I did and the engagement with ideas than they did about other measures of success,” he said, speaking in his brightly-lit Columbus Circle office, where a black-and-white Martin Luther King Jr. photograph hangs on the wall. When Coleman heard stories about other parents who paid their kids to get good grades, he said, “I just thought how lucky I was.”

Today, Coleman, a Jewish man with colorful socks who speaks at an urgent clip, is the most influential education figure you’ve never heard of. As president of the College Board, a national education company, he is redesigning the SAT, the standardized test which high school seniors take for college admission, and he is expanding the Advanced Placement program, which offers college-level classes and tests for high school students.

He is perhaps best known as the architect of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, meant to bring divergent state learning goals into alignment. Public schools in 47 states will begin teaching the Core in English Language Arts this fall. But as standardized testing increasingly comes under attack, and as teachers and politicians from both the left and right try to roll back the Common Core, it’s unclear what Coleman’s legacy will be.

The controversy over Common Core has become particularly fraught as states adopt the learning goals. In Alabama, for instance, a Republican political activist recently compared the adoption of the core to Adolf Hitler’s indoctrination of German citizens. While few states have dropped the Core entirely, several have distanced themselves from the program by withdrawing from the consortia charged with developing assessments to measure student achievement under the Core.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.