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Momentum growing for new ‘core’ standards and their architect

A couple of weekends ago, with temperatures climbing toward 90 degrees, 1,400 school administrators stuffed into a non-air conditioned high school auditorium and listened to education officials talk policy.

“Energetic” isn’t the first thing that springs to mind from that scene, but that’s just how Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and other attending principals characterized it yesterday.

“The energy in that room was off the chart. Truly off the chart,” Walcott said on NY1 last night. He and principals had described the event in similar terms at a press conference earlier in the day.

So what exactly went on inside Brooklyn Technical High School during the June 4 conference for principals?

Besides a virtuoso performance by an all-freshman string quartet to welcome the audience, much of the excitement surrounded a presentation by David Coleman, a charismatic and self-effacing speaker who helped write the new academic standards being rolled out by the Department of Education.

Coleman, a public school product who attended P.S. 41, I.S. 70 and Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, is the founder and CEO of Student Achievement Partners, LLC, a kind-of think tank of education leaders to improve student achievement. His standards, known as Common Core, have been adopted by 48 states and he spends much of his time promoting them in speeches to principals and administrators. A video of a presentation he made in April has been shown during teacher training sessions in schools across the city.

Coleman joined the DOE’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, and education consultant Charlotte Danielson at the conference to form a trio of heavyweights whose vision will help steer education policy in New York City over the next several years. The city is using Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” to guide its new teaching standards.

Coleman’s presentation touched on Common Core’s specific demands, such as a deeper focus on just a couple of math topics per school year and a greater emphasis on informational text readings versus literary text. Students, he said, should be able to “read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter” if they are proficient in Common Core standards.

Watch the whole thing here.