Thursday, June 26, 2014

Coleman and Occam's Razor

Mark at West Coast Stat Views:

One of the challenges that management consultants often face is trying to sell a very expensive product or service to a company that is capable of providing something similar internally at a much lower cost. For this reason, firms like McKinsey are very good at driving a wedge between top level management and the rest of the company. If you can convince high level executives that the people two or three tiers below them are incompetent and/or untrustworthy, you can justify charging exorbitant fees for things could that which can be done cheaply and quickly in-house.

At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, Coleman approach to Common Core follow this template exactly. He had a set of radical (and by some standards rather flaky) changes he wanted to make in American education. Instead of building support through research or grassroots lobbying, he approached one of the world's richest and most powerful former CEOs and, having secured his support, mounted a tremendously effective charm offensive on the press.

I'm coming around to this view as the simplest and most likely explanation of the origin of the Common Core standards, that Coleman somehow managed to convince, well, everyone, more or less, that they should let him manage the writing of the standards, and they just reflect his amateur understanding of the problem domain.

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