The Film

Building the Machine introduces the public to the Common Core States Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and its effects on our children’s education. The original documentary is now part of an extended 3-DVD set that includes parent interviews and six supplementary episodes. Together, these segments tell the Common Core’s story in the words of leading educational experts, including members of the Common Core Validation Committee, along with parents, teachers, and a social worker. Everyone—parents, officials, and the American public—should be involved in this national decision regardless of their political persuasion.

What is the common core?

The Common Core is the largest systemic reform of American public education in recent history. What started as a collaboration between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to reevaluate and nationalize America’s education standards has become one of the most controversial—and yet, unheard of—issues in the American public.

In 2010, 45 states adopted the Common Core, but according to a May 2013 Gallup Poll, 62% of Americans said they had never heard of the Common Core. Prominent groups and public figures have broken traditional party lines over the issue, leaving many wondering where they should stand.

Find out more about the Common Core: hslda.org/commoncore

why does hslda care about the common core?

Early in 2009, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) began researching the Common Core in depth to gauge its would-be effect upon homeschooling families. Our team realized the national significance of this reform not only for public schools, but also for private schools and homeschools. HSLDA’s in-house film crew set out to create Building the Machine, the first investigative documentary about the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

After more than a year of research and production, we present the story of the Common Core through the voices of those who know it best.


We invite you to watch our film and then explore the issues for yourself.


They believe that the standards are rigorous, even though they cant tell you what makes for a rigorous or non-rigorous standard.
–Sandra Stotsky
(speaking about advocates of the Common Core Standards)

The filmmakers

Ian Reid | Director

As Director of Film & Visual Media at HSLDA, Ian Reid led the development of Building the Machine from inception and early research to final cut.

His past credits include working on multiple feature films and documentaries and directing national television and online spots for numerous organizations including the Heritage Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Convention of States project. His work has taken him from the inner offices of Washington, D.C., to the glacial slopes of Mt. Rainier to the ancient corridors of old Jerusalem.


Suzanne Stephens | Producer

Home School Legal Defense Association Director of Communications Suzanne Stephens is privileged to work with an exceptional team of dedicated and talented people who together produce informative, engaging, and creative products across all forms of media. She is producer for HSLDA’s audio and visual media projects, which include HSLDA’s daily radio program Home School Heartbeat (1991–present), You Can Homeschool (2006), and An Introduction to Policy Debate (2012). Suzanne holds a B.A. in English Literature from Wheaton College.


Ben Botkin | Composer

Benjamin Botkin started composing for film and visual media in 2005, and has since composed the music for several feature, documentary, short, and promotional films, and has given lectures on film scoring. He is entirely self-taught in composition, arrangement, and orchestration.