Kids Are Humans, Not Machines, New Documentary Critiquing Common Core Says

Screengrab of trailer for 'Building the Machine,' a documentary about the Common Core.
Screengrab of trailer for "Building the Machine," a documentary about the Common Core. | (Photo: screengrab, Home School Legal Defense Association)

The Common Core State Standards Initiative treats kids like little machines on an assembly line to "college or career readiness," rather than as unique human beings, each with different gifts and aspirations, a new documentary, "Building the Machine," claims.

2 photos(Photo: HSLDA)"Building the Machine"

A short version, under 40 minutes, was released Monday and is available on YouTube. (You can watch it below.) A longer version will be released sometime this summer.

The film is made by the Home School Legal Defense Association and directed by Ian Reid, who has worked on documentaries for The Heritage Foundation and Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

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"Building the Machine" begins with an account of how the Common Core came to be adopted by 45 states. Many experts, most of them critics of the standards, are interviewed.

The film does give voice to the critics, however, mostly through Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The best defense of the standards are the standards themselves, Petrilli says. "They are good standards," he asserts as he encourages the audience to read the standards before deciding whether they approve of them.

Three of the lead authors of the Common Core, David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, were asked to be interviewed. Two of them declined and one never responded, the film claims.

Two members of the Common Core Validation Committee were also interviewed: Dr. Sandra Stotsky, former senior associate commissioner of education in Massachusetts, and Dr. James Milgram, emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University.

Through Milgram and Stotsky, viewers learn that the validation committee members were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement to never speak about what happened in their meeting. Of the original 30 committee members, five did not approve of the standards, including Milgram and Stotsky, the only math and English language arts experts, respectively, on the committee.

When the Validation Committee report was released, though, only the 25 signers were mentioned. There was no acknowledgment of dissent in their ranks.

"These people have not been forthcoming," Milgram says of those responsible for the Common Core.

Watch the full documentary here:

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