In a joint meeting with the Carroll County commissioners and the Board of Education Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Richard Rothschild said repeatedly that Carroll County should resist adhering to the state's Common Core Curriculum even if it means taking the federal government to court.
"My position is we should try to get out of it (Common Core standards requirements)," Rothschild told the Board. "There are laws in America that prevent the nationalization or federalization of education."
The two boards met Tuesday to discuss education in Carroll County. Commissioner Doug Howard said the meeting was specifically to talk about education issues outside of funding and buildings.
Carroll County Public School (CCPS) Superintendent Stephen Guthrie told the commissioners that CCPS is in the process of adapting the state's Common Core standards, as required by state law.
According to the Maryland State Department of Education website, Common Core is "a set of shared goals and expectations for what students should understand and be able to do in grades K-12 in order to be prepared for success in college and the workplace."
CCPS Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Steve Johnson explained that Common Core is based on an internationally benchmarked curriculum, created by a national group of educators and organizations.
Commissioner Doug Howard questioned how a curriculum designed at the national level is right for students in Carroll County.
"How do we know this constitutes something that is desirable for us?" Howard asked.
Guthrie said that the Common Core establishes the skill set students need to learn for assessments but that Carroll County educators create the curriculum that dictates how the skills are taught and what resources are used.
Johnson added that there is a 75 percent match with Common Core standards and Carroll County's current curriculum so although there were adjustments made, Johnson said that adapting to Common Core did not require a comprehensive overhaul of what Carroll County already has in place.
"We had to make some adjustments but the bottom line is I'm not sure we have the autonomy to say 'no'," Johnson said. "I mean our kids get a Maryland state high school diploma so we have to comply with the graduation requirements of the state of Maryland."
Once the state adopted the Common Core, it became law that all 24 school districts had to adhere to the standards, according to Guthrie.
Rothschild said that the federal government "bribes" states into accepting national standards.
"After they [standards] were created, the Obama adminstration created Race to the Top and they bribed all the states into accepting it...we now have exactly what is prohibited by law--the defacto national control over education," Rothschild said. "Then what's gonna happen is since the federal government incented states to accept this, more and more grants will come out that are conditional ... it will turn our schools into propoganda institutes for government and we should be resisting them."
Board of Education member Gary Bauer responded saying that the federal government does not dictate the curriculum, rather just provides funding to states.
"The federal government does not dictate anything, the federal government provides money to the states," Bauer said. "If [states] don't take the money, [states] can do whatever they want to do."
Rothschild responded saying that states are forced to accept the federal standards because they are strapped for cash.
"We are setting ourselves up to be controlled and manipulated. Once this defacto nationalization goes into effect, they will control us, they will control our state curriculum, they will control our local curriculum, they will change the curriculum by holding back grant money unless we capitulate to them," Rothschild said. "If we don' stop this, we're gonna look back 10 years from now and say 'oh my God, why didn't we stop this,' we need to try to stop this."
Commissioner Dave Roush said it is a matter of state taxpayer money being taken from the state.
"The $250 milion the state is getting [for education from the federal government] didn't come out of the sky, it came from taxpayers, many of them who are in Maryland," Roush said. "So take Maryland taxpayer's money and say 'well we'll give it back to you for your education if you do what we want, if you don't, we're gonna ship all that money out to some other state' and we'll just be poor."
Rothschild said local curriculum decisions should be made by local educators and citizens.
"I think we should file suit to try to stop Common Core so that we retain autonomy in our county to teach the way our experts think is best, not the way the federal government thinks," Rothschild said. "Just because something is law doesn't mean it can't be challenged ... the defacto federalization of education is not tolerable to me, I know where this is going."