Glenn Beck on Tuesday presented “We Will Not Conform,” a unique production airing live in over 600 theaters across America. The show was described as an interactive “night of action” to fight Common Core, a controversial set of educational standards that some say will gravely impact the future of America’s children.
Beck brought together experts from all fields — from parents to educators to lawmakers — and asked them to create real, tangible strategies in their areas of expertise to combat Common Core.
The final action plan, in addition to all of the information presented, was posted online at commoncorefails.com shortly after the show.
One of the main ideas presented, which will likely be discussed further in future days, was boycotting high-stakes standardized testing.
“If you stop the fuel, you stop the machine,” Kathleen Jasper, a former assistant principal in Florida who recently quit her job to protest changes to America’s education system, explained.
“Tonight is about more than one person, one political ideology, or any one policy,” Beck said. “Tonight is about people of all different backgrounds and beliefs coming together to fix a failing institution.”
What was most unique about the event, perhaps, is the technology that enabled theatergoers to participate in the strategy being crafted. Throughout the show, theatergoers were asked to use their cellphones to vote on the best way forward, and their input helped craft the final action plan.
Featured speakers included Michelle Malkin, Dana Loesch, David Barton, Pat Gray, and Brian Glicklich, each of whom led a “working group” in their field of expertise.
The first working group, “Research and Resources,” was led by author and political commentator Michelle Malkin, who said: “You can’t go out into battle unless you’re armed first with all of the intellectual ammunition you need to fight that battle.”
Among other topics, the group emphasized the importance of reading Common Core’s “foundational documents.”
“The very first thing that … the conform-imposing regimes … do is say, ‘Well you’re not an expert! You don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Malkin said.
But the fiery political commentator said that anyone and everyone can become an expert on Common Core.
“Our kids are not anybody else’s guinea pigs,” Malkin said of the standards, adding that it is “educational malpractice” to believe otherwise.
The second working group, “Grassroots,” was led by Blaze TV host Dana Loesch.
“Once you know the vitals, it’s time to start acting,” Loesch began. “But where do you start? What’s effective and what’s a waste of time? How do you connect with other grassroots groups in your area and then plug into larger organizations?”
Loesch covered the importance of social media, in addition to how to effectively reach out to state and local officials.
According to the audience, which voted in a poll, 62 percent found Twitter to be the most effective way to spread the word about Common Core, while 17 percent preferred Facebook.
The third working group, “Politics,” was led by historian David Barton, and covered tactics and strategies for fighting Common Core at each level of government.
Barton said there are “three specific actions” that must be done in “every single state,” and the first is “doing your own homework” on Common Core.
Second, Barton said that people must “get organized,” and one particularly useful tactic is having an identifiable trait about your organization. Often, that trait can be as simple as wearing the same color shirt at events. Politicians see that, and it makes a difference, Barton said.
Third, FreedomWorks’ Matt Kibbe, who was part of the group, said people must “always, always, always show up.”
“The day after you repeal Common Core, you keep showing up,” Kibbe said. “The bad guys are going to come back and try to take another bite at the apple.”
The fourth working group, “Alternatives,” delved into alternatives to Common Core, which included charter schools, online schooling, and homeschooling.
Led by Glenn Beck’s radio co-host Pat Gray, who started his own school, the group explored options for parents who do not want their children “sucked in” to the “swamp” of public education standards.
“As Glenn was saying, you don’t have to be a genius, you don’t have to have a college degree in teaching in order to homeschool your kids,” Gray said, explaining that the “scariest” part is taking the first step.
Gray also spoke with Jay Spencer of Liberty Online Academy, who said an online education is less than $2,500 per year per student, and in many ways, it often “frees up” parents to be more involved in the education of their children, since they don’t have to plan all of the logistics.
Beck could not praise homeschooling or Liberty University Online highly enough, but warned: “We can’t pull our kids out and then not care about what’s happening to everybody else … because are all Americans.”
The fifth working group, “Messaging,” was led by crisis and public relations expert Brian Glicklich.
Beck said Glicklich has been a friend of his for over a decade, and while he can’t reveal any of the cases Glicklich has been involved in, “he’s the guy when a company or a celebrity has real, serious problems, he’s the guy that makes them all go away.”
Glicklich told the audience that “what you say and how you say it can be just as important as the words themselves,” and told participants to remember that those behind Common Core have had “years of advanced planning and unlimited budgets to deliver the message they want.”
One thing Glicklich often tells his clients is that “[you] can be angry or effective, but rarely both at the same time.”
“People listen to people who are like them, people who are relateable, so you need to start every conversation with a relationship,” Glicklich said. “Your child related to their child, your thoughts related to theirs.”
Glicklich told participants to “get to an early common ground” in a conversation, saying “when people start saying yes, they keep saying yes.”
He also said that, if you’re just not finding ground with someone, “disengage rather than fight.”
“There’s nothing worse than taking someone who just feels differently than you do and turning them into an enemy,” he concluded.
The event will re-air again on July 29 in movie theaters across America.
Glennbeck.com posted live updates throughout the event, which you can review below:
This post has been updated.