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Carroll commissioners' common core forum draws a crowd

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The Board of Carroll County Commissioners attracted more than 100 people to Carroll Community College Monday night for their four-hour presentation of "differing views" on the Common Core State Standards.

Commissioners hosted the forum despite concerns from two commissioners and some parents that it might serve only as a political rally.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild had said the forum would serve an alternative to state-sponsored forums held in recent months, adding that the state "infomercials" presented only one side of the topic.

"The bottom line is we offered a balanced forum," Rothschild said after Monday's event.

The Common Core State Standards are education standards required by state law that are intended to increase student performance in math and language arts. Maryland is one of 45 states along with the District of Columbia to adopt the standards.

Curriculum aligning to the standards for math and English is currently instilled in all grades within Carroll County Public Schools to varying degrees.

Speakers at the forum questioned the need for the standards, the qualifications of those who wrote the standards, and whether the standards will lead to better results for students.

Speakers included Denny Gulick, a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland, College Park; Sandra Stotsky, a member of a Common Core validation committee; Christopher Tienken, an assistant professor of Education Administration at Seton Hall University; Jill Stine, senior faculty of the Common Core Institute; and Jerome Dancis, associate mathematics professor at the University of Maryland.

Speakers rarely mentioned how the standards impacted Carroll County specifically, instead referring to broader issues with the standards.

Members of Carroll Values Educational Freedom and Excellence, a parent organization recently formed to oppose the implementation of Common Core in Carroll County, also raised concerns that the school system is embracing a philosophy that students should be global citizens and that cursive is not a big enough emphasis in today's classes.

Commissioners President Doug Howard, who voted against hosting the forum, said afterward that he thought it was good to hear residents' concerns, but questioned what effect the forum had.

"It certainly didn't do any harm," Howard said. "I think we're left with the same challenges as before."

Carroll County Public Schools was invited to participate in the forum, but declined.

Superintendent Steve Guthrie and Board of Education member Virginia Harrison did attend the event.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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