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175 of 216 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing and Solving the Problems of America's Ailing Public Education System
A Review of Conform: Exposing the truth about Common Core and Public Education"(2014) by Glenn Beck and Kyle Olson

This is not a heavy book and it is an easy read. Clearly written and logically argued this is the book on education to read if one was to pick only one for 2014! The liberal pundits may disagree and in tandem with the usual public education...
Published 3 months ago by Dr. Miguel Faria

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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed fan #2
1. I was interested in the book because I wanted to know --with hard examples--EXACTLY what this 'Common Core' IS. Finally on pg 94, two examples (only) were quickly discussed. I felt mislead (maybe my fault).
2. Those first 90 pages involve teacher bashing (and union bashing). Beck attempts to smear teachers as pushing for Common Core, but I know many teachers...
Published 2 months ago by D. P. Jestic


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175 of 216 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing and Solving the Problems of America's Ailing Public Education System, May 6, 2014
This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
A Review of Conform: Exposing the truth about Common Core and Public Education"(2014) by Glenn Beck and Kyle Olson

This is not a heavy book and it is an easy read. Clearly written and logically argued this is the book on education to read if one was to pick only one for 2014! The liberal pundits may disagree and in tandem with the usual public education officials, they may try to sabotage this book. Their assertion will be that there is only one problem: we just do not spend enough on public education and not "investing" sufficiently in the future of our children! Allegedly, nothing is intrinsically wrong with the system, only we need to spend more money to improve the children's ailing self-esteem and "clarify values"!

The trend and statistics reveal the grim picture of a worsening situation despite increasing educational spending. In 1945, public school spending, nationwide, per pupil was $974. By 1992, this amount had risen to $5,216 (all $ figures in 1992 dollars). Despite a 5 times rise in per pupil spending (concomitant with a 2.5 times rise in salary for teachers), the results have been dismally disappointing. From 1950 to 1992, we have witnessed a 25 point drop in the SAT math scores and a 50 point drop in the SAT verbal scores, and they have continued to plummet and remain at the bottom of the barrel since that time.

And so the goals of public education have been perverted so that standards have been lowered to the lowest common denominator so that everyone is able to perform well and "no one is left behind." The truth is true academic excellence is no longer pursued; most important is not offending the sensitivities and "hurting" the self-esteem of underachievers, sometimes disrupting youths. This same dumbing down in education phenomena seem to be ubiquitous in the public education system, with the remarkable exception of charter online schools, such as K12 Cyber Academy in my own state of Georgia.

Beck does a great job dismantling common education myths propounded and parroted by the troika of liberal pundits, the public education officials, and the teachers unions:

That teachers unions put kids first — they don't; they put the union and the teachers ahead of the children, as they did in my own state of Georgia fighting tooth and nail against school choice and charter schools.

That "homes-schooled kid suffer both academically and socially" — they don't; homes-schooled children perform way better academically and suffer no social ill effects. On the contrary, these kids are less likely to become delinquents than public schooled children and drop outs!

That "we can't reform public schools until we eradicate poverty"—nonsense. This is circular logic. We need to exert more local control, expand school choice, and promote more competition, to reform and improve public education. Better education and family cohesion are essential to reduce poverty.

Glenn Beck is right: "The more the federal government has inserted itself into public education over the years, the worse our kid have fared." And yet like James Madison I can not lay my finger on that article of the Constitution or anywhere in that venerable document where the power is granted to the federal government to immerse itself in public education. Simply, that power is not authorized; it has been arrogated to themselves and then dispensed by political demagogues to the teachers' unions and bureaucrats.

"Conform: Exposing the truth about Common Core and Public Education"(2014) is categorically recommended to those Americans who are concerned with the status of the public education system and want to see it improved. And those with kids in the system and want to find a better way. After all there is no issue more important than the education and the future of our children. And nothing will be done until you force the politicians to act. Get into the act, but first buy this book, and read it!

The reviewer Dr. Miguel Faria is a retired Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, medical historian, and an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He is the author of numerous articles on politics, history, and science, including "Stalin's Mysterious Death" (2011) and "The Political Spectrum -- From the Extreme Right and Anarchism to the Extreme Left and Communism" (2011.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed fan #2, June 20, 2014
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1. I was interested in the book because I wanted to know --with hard examples--EXACTLY what this 'Common Core' IS. Finally on pg 94, two examples (only) were quickly discussed. I felt mislead (maybe my fault).
2. Those first 90 pages involve teacher bashing (and union bashing). Beck attempts to smear teachers as pushing for Common Core, but I know many teachers who oppose it, and many--even those in UNIONS-- who freely vote 'conservative.'
3.- He indicates that unions get union-favorable candidates elected to school boards so their agenda is rubber stamped. Not where I live, and Beck's book has example after example of the boards NOT rubber stamping (when he wants to make the point that citizens are fed up).
4-I refuse to take such a book seriously if it does not use data or interviews from current teachers, or why so many idealistic teachers abruptly leave the field. Why are we afraid to ask teachers, "What frustrates your teaching goals?," "How could the learning environment be improved?," "What do you see as the problem?" What negative changes have you seen in the last 10-20 years? When the premise is 'teachers must be the enemy--they're UNION,'you're avoiding input from those on the front line. Suddenly, everyone else is an expert.
5.-I'm married to a teacher. I'm sick of analytical discussions that dance around the myriad issues that affect education, then resort to the usual teacher (and union) bashing. I know of no industry or human endeavor where the instructor is at risk for termination when the learner fails--except education. Don't you shake your head watching someone's kids run amuck in stores and restaurants? Yeah, me too. You think that changes at the schoolhouse door?
His quote from pg 147: "The bottom line is that the quality of a home school education is very much like the quality of any other education: it comes down to....the instructors." Socio-economic status, absentee parents, discipline (or lack of), school policy toward disruption, poverty, gang activity, dysfunctional families, child abuse, drugs, developmental disabilities...all get a pass, because Beck told you "the bottom line" is the instructor. So simple,right?
6-Was somewhat confused by the chapter headings (Example: Chapter 3:"Public Schools Are Underfunded." He argues the opposite. All chapter headings are opposite of his opinion, so I got thrown off. A casual browser reading the table of contents most assuredly will, also.
7.-Inconsistencies. Example: he warns about new philosophies suggesting schools become community centers with expanded hours...because (he thinks) the teachers unions want this for sinister purposes. But couldn't this very well assist slow learners, latchkey kids, kids from dysfunctional homes. If everything is going to involve abstract arguments about power, control, or who may win, we'll never find a solution (and we'll look like Congress!) Not every supporter is a Clower-Piven operative. And wouldn't it be inconsistent to paint teachers as lazy under-performers then bash them again for daring to WANT to spend more time on teaching?
I'm WITH Beck--against federal gov't intrusion in the education process, so it's painful to bash his book, but it simply doesn't measure up to the kind of analysis we've come to expect from Beck.
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111 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference, May 6, 2014
This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
An "educational read" pardon the pun. As usual, the obvious - the first one star review did not read the book and is just a Glenn Beck hater wanting to bring the rating down. If the reviewer had read the book - every fact is footnoted - not created by Mr. Beck. Read the book and do your own research if you have any doubt - especially about the dollars spent on education in the U.S. and the results - you will be shaking your head.
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53 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glenn Beck makes a compelling case to reject Common Core, May 8, 2014
This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
Before Glenn Back started discussing "Common Core" on his radio program more than a year ago I was totally unfamiliar with it. Over the past several months more and more information has been trickling out about this insidious curriculum that is being touted by all the usual suspects on the Left. Now Glenn Beck and his co-author Kyle Olson present a comprehensive and devastating critique of this rather dubious educational initiative in their important new book "Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education". Here you will discover all of the sordid details and learn all of the powerful special interests promoting this program. They say that knowledge is power and my guess is that once you learn the facts you will join the growing number of Americans who are calling for the rejection of this extremely dangerous approach. Make no mistake about it... the future of our kids is at stake. The Founders well understood that education was best done at the state and local level. "Conform" is written in language that everyone can understand and as other reviewers have pointed out it is meticulously documented. It is the best way I know to quickly get up to speed on this monumentally important issue. By all means, read it and then pass it on to family, friends and neighbors. Highly recommended!
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150 of 204 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Fan, May 14, 2014
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This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
I will be upfront and say that I listen to Glenn Beck when I get the chance. I am a former teacher and strong advocate against Common Core and have read many books and material about the history of education, and education reform and have a deep understanding of these issues. I also taught for 16 years before deciding to stay home with my toddler son to homeschool him.

The first third of the book talks about the ills of the teacher union, tenure, and the other horrible things that teachers do that are wrong. Beck must not have had a discussion with a teacher that really cared about children and was very effective at what she did. As a teacher, I was not able to be effective because of the administration above me. The vice principals, principals, area superintendents, superintendents, and other central office administrators who made the decisions on what I could and could not do. Sadly in the 16 years that I taught the principal who was a teacher the longest was only in the classroom for 8 years. Most were only in the classroom for 4-6 years. I had two superintendents with no education experience who took orders from the city's mayor and several principals and superintendents who were gym teachers by trade and never taught a child how to read and would not have a clue how to approach it they were forced to have to complete such an exercise.

By page 50, he's gushing over Teach for America teachers. A program that I know well, because of having the opportunity to work with teachers in the program and knowing several first hand. Teach for America teachers have a 2 year commitment. They have a few week training in the summer before they are sent to their assignment. Often what they are teaching is not close to what they majored in. For example, I know first hand of a drama major who taught middle school science. I wonder if Beck would want such a teacher for his children, The Marxist factories (colleges) that Beck refers to influence TFA teachers just as much as a teacher who goes through traditional certification, but I guess he wasn't able to put those dots together. Maybe Beck needed to do more research for his book as Stanford and Pearson have a new way to certification edTPA. This will have the same exact results as the medical licensing he discusses-it will drive up costs. Or that Bill Gates financially supports TFA.

The part of the book that is actually about Common Core is mediocre at best. 'He glosses over important players in the Common Core game not giving their full background. A clear picture of how we got to Common Core will not be gotten from Conform and neither will a clear picture of what Common Core is.

His ideas for reform are similar to Bill Gates. Charters, Choice, TFA teachers, and merit pay. All laughable, as they only offer more issues in education. Real education of children will only happen with local schools being controled with local dollars and local elections, and little if any state and no federal funds involved.

If you are wanting to understand education reform and common core go and buy a different book. Conform simply does not the cut the mustard for improving education or making education better. It doesn't even connect the dots the way this former Beck fan is used to him doing.
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78 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fearmonger?, May 6, 2014
This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
Footnotes and actual source documents from many school districts.Once again a democrat that does no homework or research for themself.This is a great book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EVERY PARENT SHOULD READ IT, June 5, 2014
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This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
EVERY PARENT SHOULD READ IT!! If you want to get a clue as to what is instore for us down the government control of every aspect of our lives. It's time to be proactive for our childrens' sake. Please read this informative book and then attend local school board meetings and make your voice heard!!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Common Core severely misrepresented by Beck, July 22, 2014
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This review is from: Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Paperback)
As a teacher who has taught in Christian and Catholic schools for twenty years, I cannot speak to the accuracy or inaccuracy of Glenn Beck's accounts of public school teachers' unions and sex education. However, as a reading teacher for kindergarten through 8th grade who uses Common Core, I can tell you that his accounting of Common Core is full of inaccuracies and rarely hits at the truth. This is not a short review, because Glenn Beck's book is not short on misinformation on Common Core. There may be only five actual chapters dealing with Common Core, but each chapter is replete with misinformation.

Glenn Beck wants everyone to think that it is a ".. fabrication that Common Core is a 'state-led' effort…" (p. 81) Look at what the states say about this in their introductions to the Common Core: "Developing the new standards has been a state-led initiative…" (Illinois) "was a state-led effort…" (Alabama) "written and developed by professional educators and education experts from across the United States and agreed upon in 2010 through a state led initiative…" (Florida) "…a set of higher expectations…that were developed by state leaders to ensure that every student graduates high school prepared for the future." (Idaho) I have called the National Governors Association to check, and I was told that they were approached by the state governors. Governors also have stated that the impetus for Common Core came from them. Or view an article such as (http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/articles/2014/02/27/the-history-of-common-core-state-standards) which gives the history of the Common Core Standards beginning. Yet Glenn Beck states, "This was no state-led effort." (p. 86)

Over and over again he talks about the "dumbing-down of America…" (xii) He however never mentions which standards he would cite to prove this. Maybe it is RI.12.9 (12th grade) "Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U. S. documents of historical and literary significant (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features." Could this be a good illustration of what he is saying when he says, "…this Common Core experiment is really about: creating workers, not thinkers?" (p. 90) or "Common Core is how you create an economy of dronelike workers, not an economy of thinkers, doers, and innovators." (p. 96)

How about this 8th grade writing standard: "Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation." (W.8.8) Surely that will spread "the academic wealth around so that every state's schools are equally mediocre." (p. 77)

Here's a kindergarten standard: "With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories." (RL.K.9) This also he would classify as one of the "…nationalized, dumbed-down Common Core learning standards…" (p. 101)

Each level has "Compare and contrast" standards. These requires thinking because the student has to understand one character (or event or book content) and compare it to another that he also has to understand. Here's a fifth grade one: "Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g. mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics." (RL.5.9)

Contrary to Glenn Beck's assessment I would call much of the Common Core Standards as rigorous. There is a lot of thinking going on. Look at all the standards that start with "Evaluate," "Analyze," "Explain," etc. But Glenn Beck insists, "The progressives' overall plan for K-12 education is to…slow down the learning process so that everyone can keep up." (p. 96)

He clearly states, "…standards instruct schools to not teach algebra until ninth grade." (p. 91) However the introduction to the Common Core Math Standards clearly states, "The K-7 standards contain the prerequisites to prepare students for Algebra I by 8th grade, and the standards are designed to permit states to continue existing policies concerning Algebra I in 8th grade." I believe this falsehood was started in the article "Controlling Education from the Top" by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins. I have found over 30 pieces of misinformation in their article, but the falsehoods their article contains continue to be spread. (For a copy of their 30 plus pieces of misinformation you can request that from my e-mail: phxazsmiths@att.net)

He continually calls it a "one-size-fits-all learning standards…" (p. 82) However, if you read Appendix A of the standards you will see that they freely admit that students may be "well above" or "well below grade band level and need additional support.". But, on the other hand we also need to acknowledge that all students whether they intend to be minimum wage earners or corporate presidents need to learn to read, write, do math, comprehend what they read, be able to convey their thoughts in words, etc. These skills are all addressed in the Common Core Standards. The governors wanted all students to be prepared enough for a job or higher education without having to have remedial instruction as they were seeing their students needing.

Glen Beck writes about "…everyone will be learning the same things as decided by the same source." (p. 103) and about a "…national curriculum…" (p. 103) This actually will not be true. Let me explain. Even though every student may be striving to be able to find the main idea in a selection there may be 1,000s of ways to teach this skill. We have lots of good charter schools in Arizona. The Academy of Math and Science may have students reading articles about cloud formations to find the main idea. The Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center may have students reading articles about which horses make the best race horses. The Arizona School for the Arts may have students finding the main idea in an article about Van Gogh. (And I am still in the letter A in the list of the Phoenix area charter schools. All the other schools could have articles based on their students' affinities also.)

You just have to input a standard (RL.2.3 or W.3.2) into Google and you will find a myriad of ways to teach that same standard. Just look at any specific standard in the Teacher's Reading Toolkit at readtennessee.org and you will find suggestions for media, teaching strategies, lesson and unit plans, activities/centers, and assessments. Students will not be all doing the same assignment at the same time (unless this is the order from the principal).

The article "Critics' math doesn't add up" by Jason Zimba at (http://edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/critics-math-doesnt-add-up.html) contradicts what Glenn Beck says about him and others on pages 91-93. I am also tired of hearing Michelle Malkin's fuzzy math quote when there are standards such as 2.OA.B.2 ("…By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.") and 3.OA.C.7 ("…By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers."

Others that Glenn Beck quotes as authorities seem to have their own agendas and problems with the truth. Sandra Stotsky seems to have made a career going around presenting against Common Core. "Sandra Stotsky's Baseless Common Core Mythmaking" points out some of the mischaracterizations that she promotes. (http://dropoutnation.net/2013/06/21/more-common-core-mythmaking-sandra-stotsky-and-pioneer-institute-division/) "Stotsky Pounds the Table" also addresses her "misinformation and falsehoods." (http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/stotsky-pounds-the-table.html)

Terrence Moore is another person making money on anti-Common Core speaking and writing that Beck wants us to trust. Under his video found at (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCoOv_DwaAk) someone called chshistoryteacher has posted comments numerous times and totaling around 90 lines worth debunking most all of what Dr. Moore says. He states, "Virtually nothing Moore asserts is accurate."

Glenn Beck says, "Common Core instructs teachers to present 'informational texts' - such as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address - without any background information or context." (p. 95) What he is talking about is a curriculum - not part of the standards. People trying to bash Common Core are doing this same tactic often. They find a page in a curriculum that their local school is using and say Common Core is bad because they have issues with the curriculum. The curriculum and the standards are two very different things. If someone does not like a curriculum, then they should choose another one. There are more than 100 choices of published curricula to go with the Common Core Standards.

Beck talks about 400 pieces of data being gathered on children. I have asked several people for a place where this is happening, and no one has been able to supply me with an answer. As a Title I teacher I don't think this is even in the realm of possibility. We ask for 6 items of information to be able to help students. Often the pages come back with several categories blank. Teachers are busy people, and if they don't fill in 6 items about a few selected students, can we really assume that they will have 400 items filled out on all our students? I have called my state's Education Department and I was told that they do not collect information on political party, gun ownership, voting history, etc. (This is contrary to what Glenn Beck would have us believe on pages 108-109.)

Sol Wood warns people what will come if the Common Core Standards are stopped, "…it won't be a glorious return to the academic traditionalism that you and I favor. The demise of the Common Core would instead mean a return to the wasteland of progressive education."

There are other falsehoods that Beck presents in his book, but I hope that what I have commented on will give you a glimpse of how Beck is regurgitating a lot of misinformation that he has gathered from people who have been discredited.

In using the kindergarten through 8th grade Common Core Standards I have found myself in agreement with the 84% of Arizona teachers who are enthused about the standards and the 83% who see them as beneficial to our students. ("What Do Teachers Think About Arizona's College & Career Ready Standards?" found at http://www.expectmorearizona.org/blog/2014/02/27/teachers-think-arizonas-college-career-ready-standards/ and "Arizona Teachers Are Enthusiastic About the Implementation of the Common Core, Even as They Acknowledge Challenges Ahead" found at http://www.scholastic.com/primarysources/az-2.htm)

Some of the good things about Common Core Standards: 1) They are high standards. 2) They have good phonics standards. (Phonics has not always been included in past standards.) 3) They have students doing a lot of thinking. 4) They have students reading several United States founding documents.

Please pray with me that the truth will be revealed. I continue to pray that the truth will come out about Benghazi, the IRS, and about the great deal of misinformation circulating about Common Core.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Public Education has Issues, May 16, 2014
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It’s pretty much common knowledge that public education in America has issues. Many people are very much opposed to Common Core, whether because they understand what is really is or because they just think they do. Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education by Glenn Beck attempts to address and explain the problems and give ideas on how to fix it. Unfortunately, I felt like the book fell a bit short of its goal.

Most of the examples given felt like scary, this is the worst that has happened sorts of things. I don’t disagree with many of the points of the book (such as the problems with teacher’s unions). I just didn’t feel like the arguments were super well done and I really felt like the solutions were extremely lacking (and this may be partly because Glenn Beck’s kids are homeschooled so they aren’t even in the “system” – two of my kids are homeschooled as well, but I have two in public school and even if I didn’t, good public education is important no matter how your own kids are educated). Conform was good, but it definitely wasn’t great or overly useful. The best part, as with all Glenn Beck books, was the extensive section at the back with all the sources and references for what was written in the book to, as Beck always insists, not take his word for it, but to do your own research and form your own final conclusions.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb documentary on today's educational objectives, May 24, 2014
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This book is not much "Beck...." more a fully referenced, footnoted document that outlines the intent of today's educational system. It will blow your mind with its unemotional, factual presentation. It will scare your socks off with its clarity of purpose. It will terrify you with your helplessness in making a difference. It will sadden you when contemplating the losses in effecting the only visible alternative, home schooling.
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