The College Board and its president, David Coleman, have been accused of using the Parkland, Florida, shooting to promote its Advanced Placement (AP) program.
Coleman, who was the “architect” of the Common Core standards prior to his current position, emailed members of the College Board – education professionals at both the K-12 and college levels – regarding the horrific shooting on February 14.
As Education Week observed, in his letter, Coleman noted a speech by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez, and wrote that her address was “infused with references to her AP Government class.”
“I am compelled to share the unadulterated, impassioned voice of a student, drawing on her education as both shield and sword in the aftermath of terrible events,” Coleman said.
Moving onto student David Hogg, Coleman notes that a reporter who interviewed him wrote: “In the past year, Hogg’s interest in journalism has grown stronger. His AP U.S. History class recently learned about the Pentagon Papers and the role journalists – ‘the fourth check on the government,’ he said – play in the United States.”
“David Hogg’s words honor Advanced Placement teachers everywhere, for they reflect their power to open worlds and futures to students,” Coleman said.
Coleman’s letter led to a firestorm of criticism from education professionals at all levels.
Education Week reports:
Coleman’s letter prompted Jennifer Pfannerstill, a biology teacher at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Ill., to resign her position Thursday afternoon as chair of the College Board’s science academic advisory committee. She also quit the company’s academic advisory council.
“I cannot advocate for, and stand by, [an] organization that in one of our nation’s times of trial, would question the very students who allow them to exist and would promote itself as the only program to teach students how to use evidence,” she wrote in an open letter to Coleman and other College Board leaders and members.
Other education professionals took to Twitter to express their alarm at the letter:
Dr. Kim Harvey, Director of Admissions at the State University of New York Geneseo, tweeted, “No words. What was @College Board thinking?”
— Dr. Kim Harvey (@KHarv28) February 22, 2018
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Andrew Palumbo tweeted, “In all seriousness, who are the individuals at the @College Board that wrote and approved of the sending of this message?! Absolutely disgusted with the horrible judgement”:
In all seriousness, who are the individuals at the @CollegeBoard that wrote and approved the sending of this message?!
Absolutely disgusted with the horrible judgement. An apology should be made immediately in addition to fixing the mistakes that would allow this to be sent. pic.twitter.com/bbETbcaMm9
— Andrew B. Palumbo (@InsideAdmission) February 21, 2018
Jon Boeckenstedt, the Associate Vice President for enrollment management and marketing at DePaul University, took to Twitter to say, “Did you try to turn a national tragedy into a promotional opportunity? I’ve seldom seen something in poorer taste”:
Seriously, @CollegeBoard How many people did you have take a look at that email that David Coleman just sent about the Florida shooting? Did you try to turn a national tragedy into a promotional opportunity? I've seldom seen something in poorer taste.
— Jon Boeckenstedt (@JonBoeckenstedt) February 21, 2018
Others added their criticism on Twitter:
Is this really the right moment to extol the virtues of the AP Program? https://t.co/VK8XdAI5jQ
— Eric Hoover (@erichoov) February 22, 2018
@collegeboard email using parkland kids to pat urself on back is beyond insensitive
— mindy stecklow (@MindyStecklow) February 22, 2018
— Jared C (@Minus423) February 22, 2018
Tone deaf, self serving, narcissistic and worse. Stunning day for @CollegeBoard – seems the entire college admissions world is waiting for an apology. #EMchat #CollegeAdmissions pic.twitter.com/iDO2APeVQV
— Mark Campbell (@markcampbell) February 22, 2018
On Thursday, the College Board issued an apology.
“This past week, our hearts have ached for the students, educators, and families in Broward County,” the organization said, reports Education Week. “The purpose of our letter to members was to put the focus on the remarkable students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to share their voices. We sincerely apologize that our words have taken the focus away from the needs of their community at this terrible time.”
Coleman has been the focus of much controversy since his plan to design the Common Core standards as a means to shrink the achievement gap. When he became president of the College Board, he proceeded to align the SAT with the Common Core as well. The Advanced Placement programs have also been altered, as “culture warrior” Stanley Kurtz explained to Breitbart News in 2015.
“What’s happening is the College Board is issuing these long curriculum guidelines for every single one of its AP courses,” Kurtz warned. “AP U.S. History (APUSH) was just one of the earliest ones. Now, the College Board has released a curriculum framework for AP European History, and that one is every bit as bad as the original APUSH framework.”
“In a sense, if David Coleman’s Common Core falls apart … he can achieve all of his ends and maybe even more successfully through controlling the AP program,” said Kurtz, whose writing has appeared at National Review and the Wall Street Journal.
Kurtz warned about the leftward bent of the APUSH program, and said this about the AP European History framework:
AP European History focuses on the evils of colonialism and the supposed evils of capitalism, and it has very little to say about the problems of socialism. It has very little to say about religion — and when it does it’s negative — and very little to say about the development of representative democracy, which used to be a focus. We used to study the Magna Carta and the development of Parliament in England. In future years, we’ll have a framework on U.S. Government and Politics, World History, Literature — eventually the whole curriculum.
Breitbart News reported in December the decline in performance of U.S. students on international testing measures following years of the use of the Common Core standards.
“We seem to be declining as other education systems record larger gains on the assessment,” said Peggy G. Carr, acting commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics, according to the Washington Post. “This is a trend we’ve seen on other international assessments in which the U.S. participates.”
Education Dive also reported:
In the years since most states have adopted the Common Core standards, reading achievement has declined among America’s 4th-graders, both in terms of the average score as well as in comparison to their peers in other countries, according to the results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced today.
“What we see since the Common Core took over is that our educational achievement is actually deteriorating rather than just being unable to keep up,” Ze’ev Wurman, a former George W. Bush U.S. Education Department senior policy adviser, told Breitbart News.
“One wonders for how long will the states – and Gates-funded educational researchers – keep the charade that Common Core standards are ‘rigorous’ and ‘demanding’ in view of the deteriorating reality hitting their faces,” Wurman added. “At some point even all the Bill Gates billions thrown at propping up this mediocre and ill-conceived educational disaster should not justify harming the future of millions of children.”