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Carroll education meeting centers around Common Core

Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Guthrie and school board president Virginia Harrison didn't outline specific topics to be discussed at their trio of town meetings scheduled in coming months.

For their first meeting Monday, perhaps it should have been advertised as a discussion on the Common Core State Standards.

About 25 people, a combination of county residents and school officials, attended the town meeting at Cranberry Station Elementary School. The meeting was the first of three scheduled to create an open dialogue between the school system and the community to discuss education topics and issues.

After a brief introduction, Guthrie opened the meeting for questions, which led to a 45-minute debate on the Common Core, allowing concerned citizens plenty of time to tee off on the new standards.

At times, critics voiced their frustrations comparing the standards to the Affordable Care Act, Agenda 21, and even slavery, an attempt to illustrate that not all laws should be followed.

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 fully implemented in Carroll County Public Schools, according to Guthrie.

Guthrie said he supports the standards, but his concerns lie with the three-year timeframe in which schools have to implement the standards and the technology needed, which Carroll does not have, to offer new assessments.

"The biggest flaw in education reform is the timeline," Guthrie said."I do not have a problem with the Core standards as they were set."

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steve Johnson added that the school system has posted videos online of elementary math lessons to help parents understand curriculum changes.

The videos can be viewed at http://video.carrollk12.org/ElementaryMath/ParentalResources.

Additional information regarding the Common Core can be found on the school system's website at http://www.carrollk12.org/instruction/instruction/mdeducation/default.asp.

Although no issues were scheduled to be discussed at the meeting, Guthrie said as soon as he saw the crowd Tuesday, he knew the conversation would center around Common Core.

"I was happy to see them here," he said. "I'm happy to have this dialogue on education reform."

In topics unrelated to the Common Core, Guthrie said the school system has "great concern" regarding the discipline regulations approved Tuesday by the State Board of Education.

School officials have said that the new regulations would philosophically change how students are disciplined in Carroll County.

But Guthrie said Tuesday that the school system would take the state school board at its word that these regulations are guidelines.

He added that he would not recommend the county board of education to change "one thing" in its discipline regulations.

Guthrie did advise that if the state Board of Education moved to approve a revised student code of conduct, the school system would be the concerned about the effects that would have.

The school system is in the process of creating a bring your own device (BYOD) policy for students to enhance technology in the classroom, but Guthrie said that is "resource driven" with no timeframe attached to when it may become a reality.

Regarding the school facilities report, Guthrie said it is too early to discuss any possible actions in response to the report by MGT of America.

The Board of Education is set to discuss the report Feb. 12, but decisions by the board on any of the recommendations would undergo a year-long public process.

Additional meetings with Guthrie and Harrison are as follows:

• Tuesday, April 1 – Oklahoma Road Middle School

• Wednesday, May 21 – Shiloh Middle School

Meetings are scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m.

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