School board adopts 7 'exit outcomes'


C Strong opposition from a group of mostly conservative, Christian parents led to a compromise yesterday as the Carroll County school board unanimously approved the controversial "exit outcomes," seven broad standards by which students -- and the curriculum -- will be measured.

The outcomes stay, but the "dissident" parents will be in on the process of deriving more specific standards for each subject area and course.

More than 40 people spoke for almost two hours during a six-hour school board meeting yesterday at North Carroll High School.

Although some parents were concerned mostly with whether the standards would improve academics, the majority of those who objected said the outcomes encroached on their rights as parents to teach their children values.

"If we're being accused of teaching values, I guess we're guilty," said Brian Lockard, deputy superintendent. Those values, he said, include honesty, respect for others, pride in work and being on time.

Former board member Cheryl McFalls of Manchester said she was concerned the standards would open the door to including homosexuality under the heading of "multicultural" education.

The outcomes were drafted last fall after a conference of 700 educators, parents and business people voted on what they thought students should know, be like and be able to do by the time they graduate. The seven standards include being able communicators, collaborative workers, life-long learners, involved citizens and perceptive problem-solvers.

No parents objected to the standard which says, "Able communicators are individuals who can access, acquire, analyze and evaluate information to manage an ever-expanding body of knowledge through the exchange of ideas and information," although some have criticized the wordiness.

But Mrs. McFalls and several other parents objected to the standard which says, "Individuals with a positive self-concept [can] develop one's strengths, respect themselves and others, assume responsibility, express emotions constructively and develop wellness, to provide the foundation for personal fulfillment."

"My concern is whose values will be the determining factor on our children's outcomes," said Gary Buchman of Silver Run Valley Road. "People are being taught socialist values."

Mr. Buchman said schools have deteriorated since 30 years ago, "when we took God out of our system. Now we've created a vacuum that only humanistic and socialistic teaching can fill."

Carolyn McKenzie, president of the Carroll Council of PTAs, disagreed with those who decried the school system's inclusion of values such as respect and tolerance.

"Values have always been a part of education," Mrs. McKenzie said. The elementary report card, she said, has room for things such as "able to show respect for others."

She said she felt the board has given ample opportunity to parents to be involved in the process. She has been on several of the committees that have worked on the standards over the past year.

Kathleen Hamblet, president of the Winfield PTA, supported the "outcomes."

"This is a formula for success for me and my children," she said. "Then I read in the paper and hear that this [will teach my] children to become monsters, to be godless, to be I-don't-know-what.

"This can co-exist peacefully with grading, with a firm grounding in the basics of education."

Several of the parents said they fear the outcomes will lead to abolishing an A-B-C-D-F grading system, but school administrators have said that would happen only if the Board of Education votes to do so later.

The opponents urged the board to table its vote until next month, but only two of the five, Joseph Mish and Scott Stone, voted to table.

Those two agreed to pass the outcomes only after Mr. Mish secured from Superintendent R. Edward Shilling a promise that five to 10 of the "dissidents," as Mr. Mish called them, would be drafted onto a committee that will begin doing more specific work on the new standards.

That committee, which already has more than 150 people on it, will start next month a three-day process of examining how the current curriculum matches up to the outcomes.

The committee of staff and parents will first look at each subject area, such as science, social studies and English, and develop about six outcomes for each. They will then do the same for each course, and even down to each unit within a course.

For example, Dr. Lockard said, the committee could take the outcome of "able communicators" and interpret it for science as: "Students will demonstrate an ability to interpret and explain information generated by their exploration of scientific phenomena."

The committee would then say what that would mean for chemistry, biology and physics, he said.

"Once that's done, the people will know what we're talking about," Dr. Lockard said.

Marc Damashek, a Hampstead parent, opposed the process of the outcomes, saying the board was writing a "blank check" by approving the broad standards before the details are filled in.

Board member Ann M. Ballard said the board would approve those specific changes as committees develop them.

"We need to get moving on this," she said.

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