Two candidates speak out on Common Core

After the arrest of and subsequent publicity over Robert Small’s unauthorized questioning of Common Core at a Baltimore forum, the incident has attracted statements from two GOP gubernatorial contenders.

David Craig mentioned the arrest in a preamble to his statement, but refrained from directly referencing the incident in his official remarks:

The value in public meetings – whether it is about Common Core or any other policy issue affecting a community – is giving people the opportunity to speak. It is a long tradition that goes back to the founding principles of our country and occurs in county and municipal forums to this day. When speech is limited or meetings are overly scripted, it tends to cause angst among all who are involved.

The Common Core national education standard is controversial and for good reason. It slipped under the radar in Maryland three years ago and there are serious concerns about it, many of which are being raised for the first time. School administrators should be holding public forums like the one in Baltimore County, but these officials will actually learn more by encouraging a robust debate and the exchange of ideas. Their ultimate constituents are students and their parents and those voices must be heard.

Angst? I would have to say Mr. Small was a) pretty upset and b) had a good point, not to mention pretty solid grounds for legal action of his own. It was noted at our meeting last night (which, by the way, no one was ejected from) that it was fortunate someone was taping the meeting or we may have never known fully about the incident because it would have been excused by the mainstream media as never happening.

On the other hand, Delegate Ron George is going to try more definitive action as only he (among the contenders) can do:

I have opposed Common Core from its onset. Parents have the right to have their voices heard in all matters concerning the education of their children. This is a vast overreach by the federal government that should not even be considered until it has been thoroughly vetted by parents.

It is very clear to me that Common Core is nothing but an attempt by the federal government to take control over our children’s education and to force parents to sit on the sideline. It is outrageous and I intend to fight it with all of my energy.

It’s very clear to me, though, that whatever bill George introduces, it will be locked in the committee chairman’s drawer. He’ll be lucky to get a hearing after all the controversy, which Democrats aren’t going to want going into 2014. (Of course, once the bill is introduced we can freely call the committee chair and demand action. Most likely a bill such as this would land in George’s Ways and Means Committee and its Chair Delegate Sheila Hixson, but they may switch it over because George is a sponsor and it would be a hot potato.)

But then the question comes from the vetting process. Unfortunately, out of a public school classroom of 15 to 20 kids, you might – maybe – have one set of parents who follows Common Core and cares enough to ask questions, Hopefully this arrest will startle a few more, but it’s worth mentioning that only one other observer complained at that poorly-run meeting. Many of those who protest Common Core don’t have kids in the public schools, so they don’t have a say at the PTA meetings and other events where those parents might attend.

So the question to ask is really: what was wrong with the curriculum we had? One thing which bothers people about Common Core is that it prepares children for community college as opposed to a college-prep lesson plan. Parents – at least the ones who care and don’t use their kids as a means to milk more freebies out of the government while they watch Dr. Phil – would just like to have their kids taught the basics, like reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Pink Floyd once sang “we don’t need no education.” But what they truly meant was “we don’t need no thought control.” Double negatives aside, let’s teach kids critical thinking and not how to pass a standardized test.

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