Posted by: Tracy Barsamian | August 5, 2014

The Common Core and the Future of Education

our education system

Have you seen the Common Core movie – Building the Machine? First, I’d like to point out that it was created by the Homeschool Legal Defense Agency (HSLDA). I’m not entirely sure if that fact makes the movie more or less credible. What proves the movie’s credibility is the team of experts the documentary assembled.  The strongest voices in the Building the Machine movie were the content experts on the Common Core Validation Committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky (representing language arts) and Dr. Jim Milgram (representing mathematics), both of whom refused to approve the Common Core standards.

Let’s start with Dr. Stotsky.  Let me tell ‘ya, she HATES the common core. In fact, it appears that she is dedicated to defeating the Common Core.  In her article entitled:  Suggestions for Emasculating the Common Core, Dr. Stotsky writes,

“Gates, Duncan, Fordham et al misunderstood from the beginning who the strongest critics of Common Core would be.  Just because they successfully sold Common Core as a workforce development panacea to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce didn’t mean that mothers across the country were going to give up fighting for their children’s education when they saw what was being taught to their children in the name of Common Core.  Every year of education their kids lose, the angrier they get.  And the Gates-funded or influenced sources have fired their last cannons.

We will probably never know why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agreed to support secondary school standards in reading, mathematics, and science that will lead to a workforce incapable of the critical thinking and deeper learning to be found in well-constructed robots.  But they must know now that half of the states that were seduced into adopting Common Core’s standards and assessments are trying to get out of the sticky jar of molasses they were dropped into by their state board of education, governor, or commissioner of education and staff (or all of them together).  Maybe these folks thought they were getting a free lunch in exchange for a free set of standards constructed by ‘education experts.'”  You can read the rest of the article here.

Turning to the mathematics content expert, Dr. Jim Milgram…while watching the following segment of the movie, I think I may have stopped breathing…


Interviewer asks Professor Milgram:  “so why wouldn’t we want to, at least, raise the standards for 90 percent of the states and then, maybe down the road, in a few years, we can do something else that even, you know, that furthers that improvement?”


Professor Milgram, Mathematician, Stanford University & Common Core Validation Committee Member responds:  “How much time do you think we have? I don’t know, it’s hard for me to estimate. I was thinking initially when I started in on this weird odyssey into education, I know there’s a catastrophe coming on the horizon, but I also was pretty confident that it was gonna be after I was gone. Not anymore.”


Dr. Milgrim’s words really stuck with me. I watched the movie in the spring and while I had to search to find the quote these several months later, I remembered the gist of his statement. And when I was poking around the Alternatives to School site a few weeks ago, his words came flooding back to me as I read the Transforming Education:  A Vision for the Future page.


“With each passing year, more families are taking their children out of standard schools and turning to home-based self-directed learning, or democratic schools or resource centers. Greater awareness of educational facts and options will turn the stream into a current. An important thing to keep in mind now is that a mass-scale transformation that puts people in charge of their own learning is not only possible but inevitable. Scientists have found that a tipping point occurs when some 15 percent of people adopt a new belief; after that, it spreads like wildfire. At that point, standard public and private schools that have resisted change will either have to reinvent themselves or become irrelevant. The journey to the tipping point has already begun and is gaining momentum. The only question is how quickly we can get there, for the sake of our children and our society. In the words of Victor Hugo, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.”


Maybe the “catastrophe” that Dr. Milgram fears won’t be a catastrophe at all? Maybe the Common Core, instead of turning our children into human robots, will actually spark a revolution in American Education. Maybe Dr. Stotsky is right – the Common Core is going to push moms over the edge. We’re not gonna stand for this sh*t anymore. We’re gonna take back control of our children’s educations. The Common Core may well catapult us past that fifteen percent mark of self-directed learners – and alternatives to school will begin to spread like wildfire! I say BRING ON THE RAPIDS OF CHANGE!!  And, if a mass-scale educational transformation turns our neighborhood into a homeschooling mecca, well…then, I’d say thank you, Common Core!!


  1. Great post, Tracy! I’ve been thinking the same thing lately: that maybe Common Core is the system’s own undoing.

    • That’s an even better title for the post — Common Core: The System’s Own Undoing. LOVE it!

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