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HSLDA’s “cobelligerency” with David Coleman on Common Core

Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)  hosted a webinar with College Board President, David Coleman, last Friday.  If you were hoping for a take-down of Coleman it didn’t happen.  The email sent out by HSLDA President Mike Smith before the event gave us a hint at the tone,

At this time, we have not seen any evidence that the redesigned SAT will harm homeschoolers in any way. David Coleman, the president of the College Board, and his team have been incredibly helpful in providing us with comprehensive information about the redesigned SAT, and we are continuing our review.

How HSLDA  can say there is “no evidence” of harm “at this time”  is confusing and misleading.  The test isn’t out yet and the “harm” isn’t just in content, but with the data tracking, and the way exams factor in the P-20 European style education reforms.   Lindsay Burke at the Heritage Foundation articulated many of the concerns with the SAT that she believes will affect “non-Common Core states, private schools, and homeschoolers.”

I talked to an HSLDA representative at length about the webinar on Monday.  In my opinion, HSLDA apears to be listening to Coleman and his Gates paid hack Mark Rodgers, when they should be listening to Churchill instead.

‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.’ Winston Churchill

HSLDA appears to think that by engaging Coleman they can keep the test “safe” for homeschoolers. Naive or deceived? I’m not sure which. But Coleman doesn’t give a “S#@%” what any of us think or feel. That’s his famous quote. And yet, HSLDA thinks they can work with him to make sure homeschoolers are not harmed.

HSLDA constantly reminds us that they are against the Common Core.  Philosophically that could be a true statement.   But the fact that they have to keep reminding us means that they are doing things that make it appear to be the exact opposite.  The webinar is the latest example in their confusing history.

The webinar began with Mark Rodgers, a consultant who has done work for Bill Gates, warmly welcoming Coleman.  Rodgers is the head of the Clapham Group and I was told by HSLDA that Coleman is his client.    Rodgers put on a symposium at Wheaton College in the Spring of 2013 with Coleman hoping to convince Christian leaders to find the good in Common Core.   It appears to have worked.  Christianity Today proclaimed  “The Good News of the Common Core.” and in essence declared the Common Core the the coming messiah for bible literacy.  Find common ground and disarm the opposition is their tactic.

Coleman is a slick salesman and with the help of Rodgers it appears they are using “cobelligerency” as an argument to persuade people to their side.

In June of 2013, Rodgers wrote a blog post  titled, Cobeligerency and the College Board,

“Wilberforce coined the term “cobelligerency” to describe his willingness to  work with people he disagreed with on specific causes they shared common concern over.  Several years ago, on a project I worked with for the Gates Foundation, I met David Coleman, currently head of The College Board.  Although we may disagree on a a number of issues, we did agree on C. S. Lewis’ analysis of the decline in reading expressed in his book An Experiment in Criticism.”

Farris did not attend the event but he had a cordial conversations with  Coleman a few months later.  Has HSLDA or Farris adopted the “cobelligerency” mindset with the College Board as well?  Farris wrote,

He acknowledged some good ideas that I shared, and I did the same.

I strongly oppose the Common Core for reasons I shared with him in detail. But I want to do my best to avoid demonizing those who promote it. He is motivated by what he truly thinks is best for education and for kids. I think his plans are unwise, especially when coupled with government coercion. But I will not question either his motives or his character.

We came away believing that each of us is acting in good faith. I think we make better policy decisions when we avoid the invective and simply look to the substance. That much, David Coleman and I have in common..

But, but many say they made the movie Building the Machine. Doesn’t that count for something?  Indeed they did. But it was a documentary that presented both sides and ended with the charge, “So, regardless of which side you support in the reformation of America’s schools…Be involved.”    Is that the charge you would expect from a defense attorney trying to win his case?  Not at all.  I’m told that even some within HSLDA believed the movie was weak and a mistake.   But at least they presented both sides and some of our best voices against Common Core like  Joy Pullmann, Sandra Stotstky, and Ze’ev Wurman were featured.

The webinar was a a one-hour infomercial for Coleman to spew his propaganda unchallenged by experts.  I’m told by those on the call, (it was members only) that Coleman actually apologized for not including homeschoolers in the discussions on Common Core and promised to include a “founding document.”  How humble and gracious of him!  Regrettably, the credibility of HSLDA combined with Coleman’s  fork-tongued rhetoric  appears to have worked on some homeschoolers.   After listening to Coleman, one homeschool blogger wrote,

“First of all, I’m hopeful that Mr. Coleman is honest and forthright about his claims with regard to the new SAT and its independence from Common Core.  Assuming this, I think many home educators should breathe a sigh of relief about changes to the SAT. If you are focused on establishing a good foundation for your students in math, reading and writing, then your student should be well-prepared for the SAT. “

Blasting  homeschoolers with the message that there is “no evidence that the redesigned SAT will harm homeschoolers in any way.” is misleading and mitigates one of the strongest arguments homeschoolers have to fight the Common Core: testing and data.   But hey, at least we found common ground on the founding documents! The case that the SAT will harm homeschoolers is easily made using the words and actions of Gates and Coleman.

  • Gates said, “When the tests are aligned to the Common standards, the curriculum will line up as well.”   Does HSLDA know and believe this? They should they posted that exact quote on the Building the Machine FaceBook page on May 14, 2014.
  • Coleman said , “”If you put something on an assessment in my view you are ethically obligated to take responsibility that kids will practice it 100 times.” And then there’s the harm caused by data collection.  Coleman loves data and how it can will be used in education to drive the reforms he wants to see.

Why is HSLDA playing the game instead of fighting it?  Why are they blasting the others sides message instead?  The pro-cc side has deep pockets thanks to Gates, the feds and others.  HSLDA relies on membership dues, trusting that the attorneys are representing and defending their interests.  But are they?    Does a good defense attorney present both sides?  No! they are hired to represent their client.   Why are homeschoolers paying for this kind of “defense?l?”

I was once told that Coleman doesn’t want to “rile” up homeschoolers. Thanks to HSLDA he is getting his way. As a homeschool mom of six who has been in the trenches fighting this for years, the blatant undermining by HSLDA on this is a betrayal of trust.  Are they appeasing Coleman to protect their interests at the expense of homeschoolers and educational freedom?  It could be their need for approval from College Board for Advanced Prep distinction at Patrick Henry Prep, the Romeike case, the Constitutional Convention, the Parental Rights Amendments, or something else entirely but something appears to be interfering with the ability to fight the Common Core with clarity and strength. I was around when School-to-Work was defeated in the 90′s.  HSDLA was strong in the fight.   I’m wondering now, where is the HSLDA of old?

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Karen Braun also blogs at Stop Common Core in Michigan and Spunkyhomeschool

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