Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Heads Up: This Could Happen Here

The Washington Post had a story the other day that kind of went without comment, but it should be a lesson for us in Montgomery County.

Seems over in Charles County, the chairperson of the Board of Education is a very conservative woman who won't even send her own kids to the public schools. She home-schools them. And the board is packed with like-minded folks who intend to change education there.
From the dais of a windowless meeting room, the elected leader of Southern Maryland's largest school system strained to smile politely this week as she faced angry accusations from a teacher.

She had heard similar questions before: How can you be an advocate for the public schools when you home-school your children? Are you going to replace science books with Bibles? And why are you trying to censor classic literature?

Margaret Young, chairwoman of the Charles County Board of Education, has at times taught her children at home in Waldorf using a Christian-based curriculum. She says she wants teachers to stop assigning books that contain profanity and what she believes are immoral messages. As an example, she cites Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which is an option on the 10th-grade reading list. Conservatives Ascendant in Charles Schools: Critics Worry That Shift on Board Opens Door to Religious Emphasis

Here in Montgomery County, we saw some internal email among leaders of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, saying, "Now that we have settled, the goal of the CRC seems mainly to be to replace members of the BOE in the next election..." They have been vewy vewy quiet lately, and one wonders what kind of bunny they're stalking. As their first aim was to recall the entire school board, we can be very sure this is still a high priority for them.

Just like over in Charles.
Another board member, Collins A. Bailey, is a member of the missionary group Gideons International and has also home-schooled his children. A third, Mark J. Crawford, is a former host of a radio show for Christian youth who taught at and attended religious schools. A fourth member, who sends her children to public schools, regularly votes with them.

Those in the new majority in Charles said they are moving to raise academic standards with back-to-basics lessons, character education and greater involvement by parents -- issues they campaigned on.

Critics said the effort is a distraction to educators and is one that is steeped in Christian conservatism that has no place in public schools.

This is not a simple issue. I personally would want to keep a very close eye on anything called "character education." Seeing the kinds of nuts that seem to get involved in this sort of thing, I would be sure that their idea of good character and mine will be quite different.
"We're supposed to be educating students, not infusing them with religion," said former school board chairman James Gesl, who tried unsuccessfully last year to create a recall process to hold members more accountable to voters.

Sharon Caniglia, who was a board member for 12 years and who is the principal of a local Catholic school, said she is also concerned about the future of the school system.

"It is disappointing to see board members promote their personal agendas," she said.

Yes -- you want that here? Watch what's going on.
The teachers union cites a "brainstorming" list made public by the board last fall that suggested eliminating science books that are "biased toward evolution," teaching "abstinence-only and a pro-life approach" in health classes, offering students time for character and spiritual growth and inviting the Gideons to offer Bibles to students.

This article goes on, much more than I can reproduce here. Click on the link above and read about what can happen if you don't pay attention.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well planning had begun months ago for CRC to target BOE seats.

(Michelle Turner's (President of CRC) Post on CRC Message board 7/02/05)

Next year, four seats on the Board of Education will be up for re-election. They are: Patricia O'Neill, Gabe Romero, Charles Haughey and Nancy Navarro.

If you have been following the controversy over the revised sex ed curriculum, you are well aware of the attitudes and behaviors of members of the BoE. Our question to you now is "Is it time for change?" This is something that all Montgomery County citizens need to consider, and not necessarily for just the sex ed issue.

CRC wants to hear what you think about this very important subject. Is the BoE adequately representing the concerns for at least most of the parents and taxpayers? Are they responsive in a manner that makes you feel that they have the children's best interest in mind? Do you feel as though you have a connection to your BoE representative and are treated in a respectful manner? Is the BoE paying more attention to outside influences?

Let us here what you think. Perhaps you may want to consider a seat yourself on the Board of Education or know of someone else that would make a good candidate for this very important position.

(A REPLY from CRCDUKE/CRCEXEC on CRC Message board)


Re: Candidates for BoE
« Reply #1
While the present BOE members believe they have acted in good faith for all the citizens of Montgomery County, the track record on non-core edcuation issues clearly show a pattern favoring liberal and progressive approaches. We do appreciate their work on our behalf to deal with many very difficult issues, but for many in our County, the trend of the BOE is not encouraging as far as keeping the classroom and schools free from controversial issues and confrontation related to singular views about activism on behalf of preferred social and political perspectives.

We need a BOE that is truly impartial and objective. We need a BOE that will steer clear of any political agenda... right or left.

It is a time to consider seriously a change to a BOE that more fairly represents all County citizens and residents without favortism.

Former teachers, parents and public-minded citizens should think about running. The more candidates which reflect diverse social, ethnic and religious backgrounds from whom the County may have to choose the next BOE, the better it will be for all.

September 20, 2005 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what the Charles County BOE wants is not education- it is misinformation and censorship. The Board chair doesn't want books with profanity used in high school-what a super educator she is- because we all know "bad words" violence and scary stuff shouldn't be taught to our kiddies. That is why I don't let my kids read most of the Bible- too violent and way too much illicit sex- plus the families are not the traditional sort- like King David and his son, Solomon- all of those wives and concubines. I also don't let them read Shakespeare because well- was I shocked when I finally figured out the Queen Mab speech! And Shakespeare has witches and sorcerers and fairies- this leads children down the slippery slope and soon they are worshiping Satan. As to teaching evolution- next thing you know, your kid will learn about other kinds of science and ask you to explain nanotechology and porous silicates- and maybe even where babies come from- we can't have that.


September 20, 2005 2:46 PM  

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