Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's a Small World, Isn't It?

Last week a chance encounter gave credence to the idiom, it’s a small world. What do you think the chances are of encountering a national educational figure while vacationing? Upon arrival to Mohonk Mountain House last week, I spotted David Coleman, co-architect of the Common Core, sitting on the same veranda as me. What a small world! From first glance, my interest peaked. I wondered who Coleman's colleagues were and what was driving the spirited conversation. Since I was hurrying to a yoga class, I had no time to inquire.

My husband, however, decided that he preferred a peaceful afternoon on the veranda, enjoying the beauty of the Catskill Mountains. While relaxing, he overheard a snippet of the Coleman group's discussion that focused on "THE data" for college and career readiness as it pertained to the achievement gap. After hearing about this, my curiosity was further aroused. Perhaps, a brief meeting with Coleman could lead to information about the trajectory of teaching and learning for my readership. With this in mind, I approached the front desk to inquire if there was an educational conference scheduled at Mohonk. There wasn't, but College Board was holding a series of meetings. Now the puzzle pieces were fitting.

Later that afternoon I spotted Coleman running along the lake, right under my balcony. Of course, I could not call out to him as if I was leaning from a Brooklyn window. Instead, I decided to take a walk on the grounds, thinking I might bump into the gentleman. Of course, nothing happens as you envision it. On day two, I once again saw Coleman. This time he was strolling the halls of the grand hotel alone. Thinking that this was just the right time, I decided to approach him. I extended my hand to engage in pleasantries while refreshing his memory about the times we met at NYS NTI trainings. Graciously, Coleman listened, giving me a few moments of his time. Being the editor of Long Island Language Arts Council's newsletter, I hoped to garner a piece of information on the Common Core. My bravado afforded me a scoop. Coleman was eager to share a “tidbit” that I could bring back to LILAC's readership. He noted that a new document on the standards would be put in print in the near future. He elaborated that he and Sue Pimentel once again collaborated to publish their latest thinking on the Common Core Standards. The document will soon appear on achievethecore.org

When traveling to Mohonk Mountain House, I had no idea that I would have an opportunity to speak with the man who crafted the Common Core State Standards. Was the veranda conversation between Coleman and colleagues a timely one about the imminent release of the 3-8 testing data with respect to the achievement gap? I cannot answer that but I do know that after watching the video, NYS 2013 school test scores plunge on LI, statewide, and seeing the headlines in Newsday, my conversation with David Coleman would have been fashioned in a different way. At any rate, this chance encounter did prove to me that the world of education is a small one after all.