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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.
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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.
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on August 11, 2015
I see that one other person gave one star, and I completely agree with her review. This book was a great disappointment. Let me say that I am against Common Core, and I believe educational decisions should be made at the local or state level, so much of the information in the book supports my views. However, I was appalled at the way teachers are portrayed in the opening chapters of the book. I've taught for 45 years, and 29 of those were in primary education. I was a great teacher, as were most of my colleagues. This book portrays "teachers' unions" as bad guys. Well, maybe they are in some places, but they simply do not have that much influence in Texas. We like it that way. Except for a few years in the early years of my career, I didn't even belong to a national organization. My point is that this book portrays educators in a very bad light, and it is offensive and outrageous. The book also says that anybody, not just teachers, should be making decisions about education. Well, yes and no. (By the way, I am under no illusion that Glenn Beck actually wrote this book.) Do you tell your doctor how to practice medicine? Do you tell your pharmacist how to fill your prescription? Do you tell your attorney how to argue your case in court? No. What the book fails to recognize is that teachers are professionals, and most of the time, we do know what is best for our students.

The information on Common Core was useful, but I think a lot more could be said. Since I have also done educational writing for test-prep publishers, I can confirm that much of the push for Common Core is just to line publishers' pockets. A lot of changes that politicians try to push down our throats have nothing to do with actually improving education; the politicians are in bed with the publishers.

As far as writing style is concerned, there were too many general statements and opinions that were not supported by facts. The quality of the writing is very poor, and, frankly, appears to have been ghost-written with the purpose of simply making a few dollars.
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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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on December 5, 2015
Quite informative read on Common Core and the "Controllists"; comprised of the teacher unions, progressive media, and state legislators.

The author, Glenn Beck, takes the reader through the intricacies on Common Core and its stymied practices. This includes its tenured teachers, (permanent job status), last in - first out, the goliath teacher unions and their monopoly to student learning. It appears that teachers, many of whom are forced to partake and join the Unions, have little to no influence on what's actually taught in the classroom. The bar has been lowered and the static/archaic scholastic standards are then measured for federal compliance and rewarded with taxpayer dollars. Incentives likewise are few and far between for the movers and shakers of this industry. No wonder why a lot of the vibrant, intellectually gifted teachers choose to leave this profession. How sad.

Apparently the almighty buck comes into the fray when parents decide to home school and/or send their children off to private schools. When students from public schools jump ship and pursue education via charter schools, or home schooling, the gravy train of money begins to evaporate. Glenn Beck shares with the reader that over 2,000,000 students are now being home schooled with better academic results than their counterparts in state-run schools. Also best practices are shared to include Finland's educational system, (worst to first), and how Wisconsin made some fantastic changes at limiting Union interference and incentivizing teachers at their own tradecraft; doing away with last in, first out. Teachers now need to excel, as the hiring and firing is streamlined for the consumer driven student population.

Summing things up, school choice seems to be the winner here. Competition has always reigned supreme and will prove its worth in spades to the consumer.
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on June 4, 2014
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.
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on May 16, 2014
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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on August 26, 2014
I have gained some valuable information from this book. Yes, I know, who likes Glen Beck. Let me tell you however, that some states which adopted Common Core, fervently wish they had not. Our best creative teachers are stifled by the "cookie cutter" requirements. There is an agenda behind "CC" that invades individual and family privacy, and applies a label to your child which follows them for the rest of their life.
Common Core is spending millions on advertising and "Common Core" approved books (Yikes!) Yes, it all sounds really "progressive" and all, but watch out when you hear that word. "Progressive's" are the political group who want to do your thinking for you. They think they know what is best for you and most of all for your children.
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on May 14, 2014
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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on August 31, 2014
If you have any children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, or even expect to have children attending school, for the sake of our Nation, READ CONFORM! You will be shocked at what is being done in our schools to delete creativity in all its forms and even our Nation's history! All it will take to create little robots with no original thoughts, is to do nothing and allow COMMON CORE to continue its insidious plan.

Please read this well investigated and informed book and do something about it before it is too late. This is NOT the time to be a couch potato, letting "whatever may come" happen.
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