192 of 237 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
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.
120 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
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.
58 of 76 people found the following review helpful
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!
161 of 223 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2014
"We're not spending enough money! That's why schools are failing!" No, as Beck shows, more money isn't the answer. Maybe if all that money "spent" actually went to the students and making better teachers we'd have a better situation. Conform is a troubling book that details how politics, unions and special interests have put students on the bottom of the priority list. If you are parent and care about your child's education, this book is for you. If you don't have kids, or homeschool your kids, this book is also for you, because you tax money supports these schools. Also, homeschoolers, you are the single biggest threat to every come against the failed education system. They know it and are gunning for you.
Education shouldn't be a partisan issue. As Beck reveals, politicians on both sides have blindly supported education initiatives not worth the paper they are written on. No longer are your kids to be taught, but to be indoctrinated to faitful servants to elite few in Washington. This should bother you, regardless of your politics. Children are being used as guinea pigs and robots. If the way the government approaches education - including saying you have little say in your child's education - doesn't upset you, nothing will.
79 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great book on the "Common Core" agenda. It's just the facts laid out in an easy to read book. A lot of people will disregard the book because of the Glenn's name but it really is a solid book with facts. You read it and draw your own conclusion.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Excellent book gives me a different perspective than what is generally preached over the airways. Thanks Glenn
37 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
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.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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.