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Exposing and Solving the Problems of America's Ailing Public Education System
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.