Voices From The Readers

Why Common Core
Should Aggravate
You should be furious about the new national curriculum, Common Core State Standards (CCSS), being implemented this year. Let’s ignore the fact that Common Core standards are developmentally inappropriate for young children, or that Common Core amounts to a disservice to our students; it puts them at least two years behind their peers in high-performing countries and leaves them ill-prepared for authentic college or university course work. I won’t even talk about how students will now be tracked from preschool through college and into the workforce.
You should be furious about Common Core because you have just lost control over your schools.
CCSS were written by unaccountable, unelected “experts.” Not educators, parents, or local school boards. CCSS are copyrighted, and therefore cannot be changed or altered. States are only allowed to add up to 15% content to the curriculum, but that extra 15% won’t be included on the PARCC (assessment) test. Thanks to Maryland’s recent Education Reform Act, 20% of a teacher’s performance rating will be based on their school’s PARCC test average. It’s doubtful that teachers, whose performance is partly determined by their students test grades, will spend much time on the added material.
Maryland’s Race To The Top (RTTT) application references a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Worcester County School district, along with 21 others in Maryland, ensuring their commitment to all aspects of Common Core. Maryland’s RTTT application was dated May 30, 2010. The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously on May 22, 2010 to endorse the standards, even though the official CCSS were not released until June 2, 2010. Our local and state boards of education committed our county and our state to Common Core before the standards were even released.
What happened to our voice? What happens if parents or teachers determine that some aspect of Common Core isn’t working or they have an issue or concern with the curriculum? There will be no one to call. Not the local school principal, the superintendent, county school board, the state superintendent, legislators, or the governor. No one in the state has the power to change any standard.
So who does have control over Common Core standards and the ability to revise them if they aren’t working? CCSS are owned and copyrighted by The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). These are both non-governmental organizations that are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Parents will have no way of knowing the identities and positions of the people in charge of the standards their children are being taught.
Why has so much power and control over our education system been put into the hands of an anonymous few? Why should you be furious about Common Core? Because Common Core is education without representation.
Laura Dover
Pocomoke City

Disturbed By Article
Your coverage of the fatal accident on Route 50 in West Ocean City on Sept. 20 was well-written and informative; in fact, so informative that I have to question why your reporter felt it necessary to include Jerold Sharoff’s legal troubles, especially now that Mr. Sharoff is no longer able to address both the charges and the information included in your reportage.
The Sharoff family is grieving; trying to make sense of the loss of their loved one so suddenly, tragically and more than anything else, senselessly. I didn’t know Mr. Sharoff, and I don’t know his family, so I can only imagine how they must feel. By bringing into your article information that is now moot, you took the focus off the real criminal element — the driver of the full-size, red Ford F-150 pickup who struck Mr. Sharoff, fled the scene of the accident not knowing the extent of Mr. Sharoff’s injuries, and, as of this letter, has failed to come forward to acknowledge what he/she has done. My condolences to the Sharoff family.
Gail Schuler
Ocean City

Partners Thanked
We, the Banquet Committee of the Germantown Heritage School, Berlin Maryland, would like to thank our community partners for an outstandingly successful banquet held on Sept. 14. You are the reason we succeed.
Special thanks to Berlin Mayor Gee Williams and Town Council, Worcester County Tourism Department and Director Lisa Challenger, Senator James Mathias, Jr. and Thom Gulyas and ACE printing for all of your support.
Thank you to Dr. Clara L. Small, our speaker and to the support staff, Henrys’ Catering, every ticket holder, and community member, the Germantown Heritage School Banquet would not have been an overwhelming success without each of you again we say thank you.
Gabriel Purnell
(The writer is the chair of the banquet committee.)

Board Losing Authority
Why is the Ocean Pines Board permitting its governing and fiscal authority to be usurped? Why has the general manager been allowed to make change orders beyond his authority? Why, after making such changes, has his authority been raised from $15,000 to $40,000? Why is he being allowed to change community-approved plans for the appearance of the new Yacht Club? Who’s in charge here? What happened to promises to make the Board more responsive and responsible?
The Board must answer these questions and take back control of the operation of Ocean Pines. Board members must be fiscally responsible leaders and decision makers while abiding by all the governing documents for the operation of a home owners association provided by the Maryland Homeowners Association Act and Ocean Pines. The hired general manager should not be making determinations on spending beyond those necessary for the everyday running of the community. This isn’t River City but we have our own Professor Harold Hill selling us a band with seventy-six trombones.
Gloria Moyer
Ocean Pines

Stand By Your Pan
How often has the doorbell rung or a child interrupted you while you were cooking, causing you to forget about the chicken you left sizzling on the stove – until smoke filled the house?
If this scenario or a similar one sounds familiar to you, you may want to think about it a little more because it’s likely that you, a friend or family member has run the risk of having a dangerous fire.
As a Fire Safety Inspector for the Ocean City Fire Department, Office of the Fire Marshal, I often talk to people about the ways they can stay safe in their homes or businesses. Too often, we have that talk after they’ve suffered a damaging fire.
It’s my hope that people reading this article won’t have to learn the hard way. If I could give just one fire warning, I’d say, “Keep an eye on what you fry.”
Why? Because cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The latest statistics from NFPA say U.S. Fire Departments responded to an estimated annual average of 156,600 cooking-related fires between 2007-2011.
We’re joining forces with NFPA and thousands of other fire departments across North America to commemorate Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12th, “Prevent Kitchen Fires.” The theme reminds us that leaving cooking unattended and other unsafe kitchen practices are a recipe for disaster.
Often when we’re called to a cooking-related fire, the residents tell us they only left the kitchen for a few minutes. Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. The bottom line is that there’s really no safe period of time for the cook to step away from a hot stove. A few key points to remember:
Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the room even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
If you have a fire in your microwave, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. If in doubt, get out of the home and call the fire department
Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, do not remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire. If the fire does not go out, get out of the home and call the fire department.
If an oven fire starts, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. If the fire does not go out, get out of the home and call the fire department.
A cooking fire can quickly turn deadly. I have seen many homes destroyed and people injured by fires that could have been easily avoided. Please heed these simple safety rules and keep you and your family safe!
Ryan L. Whittington
Ocean City
(The writer is a member of the Ocean City Office of the Fire Marshal.)

Smoking Area At
Sunfest Needed
As ex-smokers, my husband and I fully understand it’s not that easy to be denied a cigarette when you need it, but we’ve always tried to be considerate of the people we were around.
That was not the case at the outdoor music venue during Sunfest. We tried to enjoy the talent but found it very difficult to breath with being surrounded by chain smokers. As I overheard one person say, “why would anyone complain, there’s a wonderful breeze” and that’s just the point. The breeze blew the smoke right into our faces. The tables were so close together, there was no way to get around it.
In a venue where there’s people next to each other, since it’s obvious many of the smokers didn’t seem to care about offending non-smokers, it would be nice to cordon off a section allotted for smokers or make the immediate area around the stage for non-smokers. I’m not interested in taking away smoker’s rights. I just would like to have the right to enjoy what OC has to offer without being overcome with the smoke. At least at the beach, I can move.
My only option here was to leave and not get to enjoy the music.
Nancy Lower
Ocean City

Removing Citizen
From Meeting Wrong
(The following letter was addressed to the Ocean City Mayor and Council.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, The recent decision of the Council President to expel a citizen of our community from a council meeting must be addressed. As one who has frequently attended council meetings over the past 30 years, I am aghast at such action, with hardly a whimper from the mayor or most of the council members.
I understand the rationale for the attendance of a uniformed police officer at these sessions, sadly the behavior of some citizens over the years at public meetings in our country have made this a necessary precaution, but never before in my memory in Ocean City, has a citizen been removed by anyone, police, mayor, council president or anyone else. This indignity must not become the norm in our town and should be condemned by everyone who has a voice.
While I know of the woman in question, we are not personally acquainted. However, from first hand observation, I have seen her sincere interest in public policy and government operation. I have witnessed her interchanges with the Mayor and Council over the past few years, this is not a new or sudden or threatening action on her part. She gives as well as receives on these occasions, from the mayor, president and council members, regularly. This is not a new occurrence.
From my observation, the meetings of the Mayor and City Council need more than a police officer in attendance. They need a referee to separate the combatants who reside on the dais. Recent exchanges between the mayor, president and council members have bordered on a barroom brawl, with frequent exchanges of charges and allegations, that, in an earlier time, might lead to duel challenge; is it any wonder that these ladies and gentlemen appear to lose it more frequently these days, perhaps a time-out is in order. Like it or not, these officials were elected to represent all of us, whether we voted for them individually or not; part of their obligation is to listen to the people, whether they agree with them or not. If this proves too difficult they have another option.
Incidentally, whatever happened to “Roberts Rules of Order, and the appointment of a sergeant at arms to control decorum?
Joe Moran
Ocean City