CHICAGO - If there is one issue the left and right seem to agree on, it is their mutual dislike of Common Core. In 2009, when the program was first introduced as part of the $3.5 billion federal education grant program called "Race to the Top," states desperate for education dollars bought in wholeheartedly, many without understanding exactly what they had joined.
The Common Core standards were accepted by 45 states almost immediately, without a full grasp of the changes that were coming. National figures like Microsoft's Bill Gates and Florida's former governor Jeb Bush emphasized the need for American children academically competitive with students around the world.
Although states like Illinois had developed their own public school curriculum standards over the years, the Race to the Top federal grant money laid claim on state schools, requiring nationalized standards.
College testing companies such as ACT and SAT found their tests would need to reflect the Common Core national standards as well. Students focused on careers rather than college would be required to meet the same academic standards. That meant the standards would be lowered until they were achievable by all students in the public school system - including private and home school students.
The resulting education system is complicated and mysterious, but the Common Core standards - if its organizers are effective - will be implemented nationwide and affect all students living in America. An education overhaul initiated and implemented in Washington DC that will require all American children participate - some say to the detriment of the nation's education system, others say creating a vast improvement.
Home School Legal Defense Association presents both sides of the Common Core debate in a new 39 minute documentary released Monday online and available to all for viewing.
In "Building the Machine," experts - both supportive and critical of the national standards - are featured. That means parents who've been fighting Common Core in their states will be frustrated with the documentary's final product while those who are learniing about Common Core for the first time will feel as if they're just drunk from a firehose of hard-hitting facts.
Illinois is currently debating whether the state should delay implementing the Common Core curriculum. Obama and Arne Duncan fans will cheer Common Core's top down approach to education, while parents resenting an elitist education mindset will chafe that HSLDA's approach was not more condemning.
Take time to watch HSLDA's "Building the Machine" documentary and form your own opinions about America's education dilemma - and then, as the film encourages, get involved.