Parents prepare fight on school standards New goals seen as meddlesome


About 75 Carroll County parents last night formed a group to fight the school board's decision to include controversial "exit outcomes" in the classroom curriculum.

The group, meeting at the Faith Community Bible Church outside of Union Mills, discussed several tactics, including asking the five-member school board to rescind its decision or appealing the decision to Maryland Board of Education.

The parents' group appointed committees to make phone calls to lobby support for their efforts, write letters to newspapers and elected officials, and collect a package of materials to educate others about the standards.

"School boards can be fought, but it won't be easy," said Tom Shaffer, who conducted the informal meeting. "Many of us have complained and written letters to newspapers. They've all been nice, but they haven't done us any good."

Mr. Shaffer said parents must be unified in their efforts to block some of the board's proposed standards for students, who would be affected by the outcomes throughout their schooling.

Despite opposition from some parents, the Carroll school board earlier this month unanimously approved the exit outcomes, seven broad standards by which students -- and the curriculum -- will be measured.

Most opponents at the parents' meeting said they believe the outcomes would encroach on their rights as parents to teach their children values. Others expressed concerns about whether the standards would improve academics and change the current grading system.

The outcomes were drafted last fall after a conference of 700 local 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 standards include being able communicators, collaborative workers, lifelong learners, involved citizens and perceptive problem solvers.

"I've spoken to a lot of people who don't know why we're opposed to it," said the Rev. Gary Buchman. He urged the group to educate others. "[Education] needs to be an issue," he said.

Tim Ferguson, a Mount Airy resident who plans to file as a state Senate candidate, said he would make "exit outcomes" an issue in his campaign. He said the standards have failed in other school districts across the nation.

He urged parents to take recourse by running for school board positions and ousting current members. If he is elected, Mr. Ferguson said he would urge legislation to limit school board members to two-year terms.

"If you keep them on a short leash, when parents squawk they will listen," Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. Shaffer urged parents to voice their opposition to the proposed outcomes at Commissioner Julia W. Gouge's monthly public meeting at 1 p.m. today in Room 300A of the County Office Building.

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