Voices From The Readers

Non-Profit Helping
Overcome Cuts

The article by Shawn Soper on sequester impacts on Assateague Island National Seashore and your editorial comments were well put but don’t tell the whole story.

Over the past two decades, budget cuts by Congress have also affected all national parks so the financial situation for “American’s greatest idea” is much more dire than just the sequester impacts. Some local citizens recognized this situation about five years ago and formed a non-profit friends group for Assateague Island National Seashore known as the Assateague Island Alliance (AIA). Funds raised by AIA are used to help the Park.

Examples of ways AIA funds have been used include transporting a horse to a rehab center, stipends for seasonal interns and park volunteers, funding the horse contraceptive program, paying for interpretative equipment repair, funding school bus transportation where budget cuts were keeping children for field trips to Assateague and this year fund raising for window blinds in the education center.

Any local resident or visitor who loves Assateague Island and would like to help out the Park should contact AIA at [email protected].  Any donations made directly to the park are required by law to go into the general fund and be used by all national parks. We have a very special place that this community needs to protect with or without federal funding.

Join AIA and help make a difference.
Carolyn Cummins
Ocean City

Disturbed By Council
Parking Approach

At the June 3, Mayor and Council Meeting, the paid parking issue was a hot topic of conversation, once again. The many sides of this issue were debated for quite some time with the usual defensive posture of some on the council that the matter had been of deep concern to the council during its budget discussions earlier this year.

council members pointed out that these discussions took place in public meetings open to anyone wishing to attend. The council’s argument raises the obvious question of the appropriateness of such a serious and contentious issue being pursued during the course of budget discussions, rather than in a public hearing, a more appropriate setting for policy discussion and council decision making.

This contentious issue impacts the whole town, its residents, property owners (both resident and non-resident alike), commercial/business owners, and even our visitors. That the matter was discussed openly during council budget discussions is not an issue, the appropriateness of the council’s action stemming from those discussions and its decision to proceed is the issue. That’s what public hearings are designed to do, inform the public of major policy issues and provide a forum for public discussion and input before the council acts.

We know the council works hard and diligently on our behalf and does its best to be open and fair to its many constituencies, that’s what they were elected to do, but spare us the holier than thou attitude on display by some on the council that evening.

I respectfully suggest the council seriously consider delaying implementation of the ordinance until such time as a public hearing can be convened, notwithstanding the fact that the meters are already on order.

Joe Moran
Ocean City

Slow Down Common
Core Implementation

Recently, Worcester County School Board (WCBOE) president made it clear, the board plans to fully implement Common Core State Standards for Education (CCSS) by the end of next year.

Many people have not heard of CCSS. For those that have researched CCSS, most do not like what they have learned. According to Truth in American Education, 16 states are in some form of discussion to or are withdrawing from CCSS.

Nine US Senators signed a letter directed to the Senate Appropriations Committee calling for defunding of CCSS. Thirty-four US Congressmen, including our representative, Andy Harris, signed a letter to the US Dept. of Education expressing concerns with the implementation of CCSS and the manner in which the federal government collects and distributes student data.

The RNC passed a resolution rejecting CCSS stating that the RNC recognizes CCSS for what it is, an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children. American Federation of Teachers (the second largest teacher associations in the US) president recently stated, “CC changes are being made nationwide without anything close to adequate preparation is a failure of leadership, a sign of a broken accountability system and worse, an abdication of our moral responsibility to kids, particularly poor kids.”

A recent Maryland State Education Association Survey indicated that 82% of Maryland teachers believe significant challenges remain to understanding and implementing CCSS in our schools.

The MSEA president stated, “We can’t close our eyes and hope for the best. This survey should be a wakeup call for more focus, more professional development, and more consideration of how to implement these changes successfully.”

Public policy organizations such as Heritage Group, Cato Institute, American Principal Project, Heartland Institute and Freedom Works as well as parents across the United States are opposed to Common Core State Standards.

Maybe the WCBOE needs to slow down, conduct town hall type, public information meetings to provide the taxpayers that are paying for this untried experiment lacking legitimacy and empirical study, the opportunity to openingly ask questions of our elected board.

During the last WCBOE meeting, it was stated that this train (CCSS) has left the station and is moving on. It appears that many states and regions are trying to get off the train before it wrecks. Why in the world did WCBOE hop on this train when we were supposed to be the best school system in the state, leading a state that is supposed to be number one in education in the entire country?

Every parent should be asking why are we sacrificing our children for a free ride on the Race To The Top (stimulus money) train without knowing or worse yet asking where the train in headed.

Kellee Kennett

New Standards Will
Only Hurt Children

“Common Core Standards will cause suffering, not learning, for many, many young children,” states Dr. Carla Horwitz of the Yale Child Study Center.

A Washington Post article, “A tough Critique of Common Core on early childhood education (1/29/13) reads, that when the CC standards were first revealed in March 2010, many early childhood educators and researchers were shocked. “The people who wrote these standards do not appear to have any background in child development or early childhood education,” wrote Stephanie Feeney, chair of the Advocacy Committee of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.

The promoters of the Common Core Standards (CCS) claim they are based in research. They are not. There is no convincing research, for example, showing that certain skills or bits of knowledge, if mastered in kindergarten will lead to later success in school. Two recent studies show that direct instruction can actually limit young children’s learning. At best, the standards reflect guesswork, not cognitive or developmental science. This is not surprising, particularly in K3 standards because of the 135 people on the panel that wrote and review the CCS not one of them was K3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional. It’s bad enough to set up committees to make policy on matters they know little or nothing about. But it’s worse to conceal and distort the public reaction to those policies. And that’s exactly what happened. Take a look at the summary of “public feedback” posted on the Core Standards website. It is grossly misleading.

First of all, calling the feedback “public” is wrong: the organizers of the standards would not make public the nearly 10,000 comments they say they received from citizens. The summary quotes 24 respondents – less than 1/4 of 1 percent of the total – selectively chosen to back up their interpretation of the results.

But they don’t even mention a critically important statement opposing the K3 standards, signed by more than 500 early childhood professionals. The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative was signed by educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers, including many of the most prominent members of those fields.

Their statement reads in part: We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children … The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades … .We therefore call on the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to suspend their current drafting of standards for children in kindergarten through grade three. They did not.

Worcester County School Board is quickly moving forward with implementing CCS. If this Washington Post article is correct, maybe we need to slow down and schedule public information meetings so parents and taxpayers (who are paying $75 million of the proposed county budget towards education) can ask questions.

The Washington Post article concludes, “Our first task as a society is to protect our children. The imposition of these standards endangers them.”

Fran Gebhart