ELLICOTT CITY, Md. – I’m giving the new Common Core documentary Building the Machine five out of five stars, and not just because I’m in it — or rather a news clip of me being carried out of a public forum back in September is.
I’m giving it five stars for taking away the last excuse any parent could have for not knowing exactly what Common Core is and how it came to be. Released online on March 31st, the 39-minute documentary is still free and is must-see viewing.
My favorite part is the clip of Dr. Jason Zimba, lead writer of the math standards, explaining Common Core’s definition of college-readiness: “The goal of the Common Core standards isn’t to prepare our children for world class universities; it’s to prepare them for community college.” Actually, that’s not his quote — it’s mine in Ann Miller’s You Tube video of me that made the news. What Zimba said is:
“The definition of readiness, I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimum of college readiness — the colleges that most kids go to, but not that what most parents probably aspire to…It’s not only not for STEM, it’s not for selective colleges like UC-Berkeley.”
In other words, as I told the audience at my local forum, they’re not preparing them for Harvard.
The difference between Zimba and me? (Other than I was arrested and charged with a crime for stating essentially the same thing.) “Dr.” Zimba, lead writer for the Common Core math standards, is in the fraternity of higher academia and was personally invited to speak before the Massachusetts Board of Education in 2010. “Mr.” Small responded to a general public invitation to attend a state-sponsored education forum billed as “your chance to get answers to your Common Core questions,” then told to not to speak. Not only that, Dr. Zimba’s privileged status allows him to change the truth by denying what he’s recorded as saying is what he actually said. In a 2013 commentary, he stated:
“[I]t’s factually incorrect to say, as these critics frequently claim, that the definition of college readiness in the Common Core is pegged to a community college level.
The conceit of those in the fraternity — who are also government’s public policy makers and advisors — seems to be the truth is whatever they say it is. As an average dad — you know, the product of our heretofore-failing public school standards they aim to fix with Common Core — I can expect no respect from such privileged elitists who believe I’m not qualified to know what’s best for my children and don’t deserve to have any say in their education. Academics who refuse to chug the frat house cool-aid are allowed their respect, but marginalized by consensus.
That’s really the point of Common Core. Its masterminds don’t respect parents, they don’t want our input, and they certainly don’t want us to be in control of our children’s education. Heck, they don’t even respect the thirty members of the Common Core standards validation committee whom they required to sign an agreement never to disclose what took place. They just want dissenters and naysayers out of the way. They have a world to change, and anyone with the gall to question what children are being taught in our public schools and how is considered a problem and a threat. After all, why else would the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) use their time and money to produce a documentary about what’s going on with the public school system much less offer it for free online? They explain on their website:
Early in 2009, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) began researching the Common Core in depth to gauge its would-be effect upon home schooling families. Our team realized the national significance of this reform not only for public schools, but also for private schools and home schools. HSLDA’s in-house film crew set out to create Building the Machine, the first investigative documentary about the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Home schooling is the ultimate control one can exercise over his or her child’s education, and average parents have been doing it successfully pretty much since the beginning of time. Common Core isn’t fixing anything; it’s simply a means for big government social engineers and their corporate cronies to exercise power and control over what children learn so they can control their future. HSLDA’s excellent documentary makes clear that it is pretty much the opposite of everything state school officials and those pro-Common Core commercials now saturating basic cable sell it as being. To consumers of public education “caveat emptor,” that is, “let the buyer beware” could be the moral to take from HSLDA’s film.
The film does a better job than I was able to do getting the word out that Common Core standards will very soon lead to a boom in community college matriculation rates. Students and their parents should adjust expectations accordingly. Although, considering Common Core’s brain trust and their most vigorous supporters are products of our nation’s more selective colleges and universities, I think there may be a silver lining in the savings potential. Comparing the credit-value-per-dollar of a two-year associate’s degree against a four-year bachelor’s from places like Berkeley or Harvard shows a lot more quality for the buck, at least until the laws of supply and demand put upward pressure on community college tuition rates. I’m more concerned, as every American should be, by the outright dishonesty of Common Core architects and proponents who, facing pushback, are stepping up their national propaganda campaign. It’s a deception that the movie expertly unmasks.
Perhaps the biggest revelation may be that the 30 members on the Common Core validation committee, who were supposed to give the standards their blessing, were required to sign statements of confidentiality and, according to Dr. Sandra Stotsky, “agree never to discuss what took place.” This was in striking contrast to all other civic committees she’d been involved in, which were subject to sunshine laws. Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, the only English language arts and mathematics specialists, respectively, on the committee were two of five members who refused to sign off their approval on the standards. They were subsequently expunged from the record as Common Core moved forward, and should probably be thankful they haven’t been arrested for speaking out.
Common Core isn’t an honest effort to raise the standards of reading, writing, and arithmetic; it’s a marketing campaign. Its architects and proponents, like David Coleman (president of The College Board which controls the entry point into college by controlling the entrance exams), Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, presidential aspirant Jeb Bush, and most state governors and their education minions are drastically overselling its virtues. It’s becoming more and more obvious to parents who’ve been scratching their heads over math assignments that bear little resemblance to math that Common Core isn’t about giving their children a shot at an Ivy League education or Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics career. The question remains, what is it really preparing them for?
Building the Machine may not have all the answers, but it arms parents with the information they need to ask informed questions at their next Board of Education meeting, state legislative hearing, or education forum. Whether viewed online for free or purchased on DVD, Building the Machine is a movie parents can’t afford to miss.