Beck is right that conformity is hurting schools, but he’s got the cause of it all wrong. Two chapters into the book and you realize the whole book isBeck is right that conformity is hurting schools, but he’s got the cause of it all wrong. Two chapters into the book and you realize the whole book is just an offensive attack on unions, with very little substance all all concerning the Common Core. He didn’t write this book because he cares about education and students, he wrote this because he’s trying to chip away at a Democratic stronghold donor. More politics. What a shame.
With nearly twenty years in education, I gave this book a chance because I thought maybe this guy was really onto something this time, but I was disappointed by his hyperbole, ad hominem, and non sequituir chapters. This book is plagued with generalities and logic fallacies. He goes on and on about unions (obviously because he doesn’t think even the great teachers should have their healthcare benefits paid for). He drops Good teacher and Bad teacher throughout the book without actually defining what a good or bad teacher is. Judging by his examples of unions, bad teachers are those who can’t pass along kids who shouldn’t be passing, which is really at the root of the No Child Left Behind mediocrity.
Beck bites himself when he writes on page 17 "…forty five states spent more on education as a percentage of their total budget than Massachusetts, yet Massachusetts finished first in average ACT scores all there years.” If that’s the case, Beck is praising one of the strongest union states out there. But besides contradicting his whole entire book in one sentence, there are some other problems with what Beck asserts in that statement: 1) he is assuming the ACT is the only measurement of success, 2) he fails to acknowledge that many more students take the SAT or no test at all than those who take the ACT and 3) standardized tests are as cookie cutter conforming as it gets.
Other big problems with the book: no in-text citations, probably because he is plagiarizing various sources and the sources he does use are non credible websites and blogs. Did he take a research class in college? Not the fact-based book it claims to be on the back cover.
It’s not very hard to get into teacher college, you don’t have to do well to graduate, Beck says, but hey, he’s not bashing teachers. A few paragraphs later, and what do you know, it’s the unions fault again for not stopping teacher colleges from destroying education by accepting the lower tier graduates. Obama is always there to blame too, as he periodicaly takes hits at the president and community organziers. There is a hyper obsession with unions in this book, even though most schools in the U.S. are not unionized, and the many of the least educated states are completely non union.
Early on in the book he makes the claim that folks who haven’t been to war shouldn’t be allowed to protest war if folks who haven’t been teachers in the classroom aren't allowed to protest education. This doesn’t sound like the Beck from the Bush/Cheney years who used to stand at a chalk board lecturing us about how evil Gore and Kerry were? In fact, where was all this big bad government talk when the Bush administration was ravaging our economy and sending us off to war (based on decisions from those who had never served). I don’t think you can compare protesting a war that kills people and costs billions with the job of being a teacher. But really judging by what he’s written in this book, he demonstrates a gaping lack of understanding for what goes on in schools. Anyone can read blogs and splice together outrageous headlines from twenty years ago, but only Glen Beck can package it up and make a million dollars off of it.
This book is great for someone who knows nothing about education, but for the person who has studied the field and knows the facts, every paragraph will produce a grimace or a chuckle because he’s so far off. Take his lack of definition of Common Core. He seems too confident in what the Core is doing and why it was created, but he has no idea what it even is. Apparently to Beck, Arnie Duncan, Obama, Bill Gates, oh and unions, are laughably the creators of Common Core.
Amazingly, Beck takes the Math road of claiming we’re not doing enough math and Common Core is robbing our kids of math. In the real world grueling and unnecessary math is being pushed by states, contributing to drop out rates, and getting far more promotion and funding than language and social studies. I wonder how much math Beck took in high school and college. In one of his last pushes in the book, he promotes elearning and etexts, amazingly after bashing Bill Gates for several chapters and blaming him for Common Core. He claims e-texts are more effective for learning, but every study I’ve read actually shows print texts lead to greater comprehension. So again, either he’s terribly misifnroemd or he’s just taking a contribution from someone.
Structurally, this book is so unorganized, you’d think a twenty-year-old first-time writer was compiling his random journal entries on education. Chapter 20 suddenly turns into an entirely second book about homeschooling. Wait, I thought this book was about public education. It’s really about how Beck wants to shut down unions (hence Democrats) and have more parents homeschool their kids (which doesn't necessarily stop the dumbing down of kids). It’s so disappointing to see just another know nothing blantantly paint education as a Democrat vs Republican world of politics. If you want a serious book about Common Core, check out some of the other ones on Amazon like Children of the Corn, but there are far bigger problems in education than Common Core. If schools are “Marxist brainwashing factories” as Beck asserts then there are far greater problems to focus on than a national standard that simply asks schools to raise their standards. If you're looking for a book written by a real educator about the dumbing down of students see anything by John Taylor Gatto or E.D. Hirsch or Diane Ravitch. ...more
Excellent look inside a theme-based approach to the study of literature and history. Tinberg and Weisberger clearly outline their successful approachExcellent look inside a theme-based approach to the study of literature and history. Tinberg and Weisberger clearly outline their successful approach to teaching a team-taught subject rich course, so this book holds something for teachers and learners, even if you're not a Holocaust scholar. But this book will also inform you why the authors chose this heavy subject and why the course is so successful at their college. Anyone interested in theme-based, team taught, and interdisciplinary courses would benefit from the template Tinberg and Weisberger offer here. ...more
Deresiewicz shares a lot of great observations about both elite and non-elite students and schools. The elite education is not what it is made out toDeresiewicz shares a lot of great observations about both elite and non-elite students and schools. The elite education is not what it is made out to be yet they are the ones who control society. Deresiewicz says it well when he writes: “Anyone who tells you that the sole purpose of education is the acquisition of netoiable skills is attempting to reduce you to a productive employee at work, a gullible consumer in the market, and a docile subject of the state” (79). My only problem is there are some subjective points that seem clouded by his own experiences. I appreciate his awareness of his own privilege, but it's not enough to save the book from losing a star. Furthermore, the final chapters go off into a political rambling--apparently no one is doing anything worthy to run America the right way. Remarkably, he never really gets into his title's own metaphor other than a brief mention of how everyone in college looks the same now. ...more
The most unscholarly book that has ever labelled others unscholarly. There were so many other areas of education he could have criticized, but he pickThe most unscholarly book that has ever labelled others unscholarly. There were so many other areas of education he could have criticized, but he picked ones that were just opinionated political attacks. The only conspiracy in this book was the author. ...more
So there are great points in this book, but there are also some problems:
The authors rely on student evaluations for some of their judgements of faculSo there are great points in this book, but there are also some problems:
The authors rely on student evaluations for some of their judgements of faculty. It should be a given that a population of students who do not live up to the higher expectations of a good teacher may not treat that faculty member well. It should also be noted that in most situations students rate faculty on these evaluations before their final grades are tallied; therefore, a student who did fairly good bit thinks they did poorly may take out their self disappointment on the faculty member. For these reasons, a student portfolio is a better way to judge a teacher's success.
The book is overly judgmental and makes various hasty generalizations such as a top ten list of colleges. Did they visit every college in the nation?
A call for fewer sabbaticals may be a call for more teaching and less research, but what about creative endeavors that refresh a faculty member?
Some of the highlights of this book:
The call for less research and more focus on teaching is appreciated.
Committees can be busy work and can take away from teaching.
End exploitation of adjuncts! These faculty members often have the same exact academic credentials as full-timers but get 1/6 the pay. Obviously this is a catch 22 because if you hire more full-timers and have less adjuncts you're either going to have full-timers who get paid significantly less or you're going to have major budget problems. Adjunct pay and benefits could be improved or these positions could be limited to those who already have full-time positions elsewhere.
Another plus is the book's call for administrators to be public servants. ...more