The Board of Carroll County Commissioners will host a forum on the Common Core State Standards Nov. 4 despite concerns from some board members and parents that the event is more of a political rally.
Commissioner Richard Rothschild, who has been spearheading the scheduling of the event, said the intent of the forum is for commissioners to hear citizen concerns and presentations from educators with "differing opinions" on Common Core.
"We're moving from a state sponsored infomercial to a forum where differing views are presented," Rothschild said, comparing the commissioners forum to those offered by the state department of education in recent months.
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.
Mount Airy resident Rita Misra spoke out against the forum during public comment of the commissioners' Oct. 24 meeting expressing concerns that the presenters have no experience with the local school system and that the event will unnecessarily politicizes the issue.
Misra said she found it "kind of odd and hypocritical" that the commissioners will move forward without a local expert involved.
"They're bringing in outside people representing one viewpoint," she said. "The way this is being done is very divisive for our community in general."
Speakers at the forum are expected to include 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, and Jerome Dancis, associate mathematics professor at the University of Maryland.
"These are not political people," Rothschild said. "These are educators, people involved with the Common Core,"
The county will not be paying any speaking fees for the guests, although it will cover about $400 in traveling expenses for one speaker, according to Rothschild.
Carroll County Public Schools officials have been invited to participate in the forum, but have declined the invitation, according to spokeswoman Carey Gaddis.
Commissioners President Doug Howard called the forum a "terrible idea," adding that his biggest concern is that issues raised will not apply locally to Carroll County.
Howard and Commissioner Haven Shoemaker voted against hosting the forum Oct. 17.
"If we're going to have it, I'd be remiss not to attend," Howard said.
Carroll Values Education, a local parent advocacy group, is also opposed to the forum, according to its founder Bob Lord.
Carroll Values Education is not to be confused with Carroll Values Educational Freedom and Excellence, which was recently formed to oppose the implementation of Common Core in Carroll County.
Lord said he views this as a political rally, adding that the invitees are against the Common Core and there is no objective voice.
"This is the role of our school board and any concerns [with Common Core] should be directed to our Board of Education," he said.
The forum is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in room K-100 at Carroll Community College.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun