After a failed motion and more than an hour of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, the Carroll County School Board elected to vote on changes recommended by the Family Life Advisory Committee to the curriculum framework. compulsory state health.
The recommendations were on the meeting agenda as an action item, but some school board members were confused about the approval process while others wanted to further review the old curriculum framework. studies and planned changes. The stakes were high enough that council members delayed their vote.
The Maryland State Board of Education has adopted the Comprehensive health education framework in October 2019, a 51-page document that details the general concepts that students learn at each grade level. It includes health education curriculum guidelines with instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity taught in an age-appropriate way for children in grades K-12.
The framework states that pre-kindergarten students will “recognize and respect that people express themselves in different ways” and that kindergarten students will “recognize the importance of treating people of all gender identities and expressions with dignity and respect”. It also says that first graders will “identify a range of ways people identify and express gender.”
“I can tell you that I have great concerns about the standards, I think they are very inappropriate in many ways,” said Edmund O’Meally, legal counsel for the Board of Education.
Since January, the school system’s Family Life Advisory Committee has been working with the school board to align the state-mandated curriculum with the values of the Carroll County community. Amy Guilford, chair of the committee, and Angie McCauslin, director of curriculum and instruction for the school system, asked the school board to approve the committee’s recommendations Wednesday night.
Many council members were reluctant to endorse the recommendations and asked questions to clarify the procedure.
School board member Donna Sivigny, who sits on the committee as the school board representative, explained the roles and responsibilities of the committee.
“They are not recommending a program or material, they are recommending what they believe to be a good framework that is as consistent as possible with the state framework, but more in line with what our community thinks is appropriate that the program writers start writing [the curriculum] to bring to us for approval,” Sivigny told the school board.
McCauslin reiterated Sivigny’s comments.
“I urge you to endorse our recommendation so that our program editors, who will be meeting this summer, can start doing the work and get it done,” McCauslin said.
Carroll County Commissioner Dennis Frazier, a Republican who represents District 3, advised the school board to go through the committee approval process. Frazier is running for a seat in the Maryland General Assembly in this year’s election, to represent District 5.
“It’s supposed to go [through] curriculum people first and it’s always been done that way in the past, maybe that’s the way it should be done now,” he said. “This topic seems somewhat ‘controversial’, so let’s make sure we get it right.”
Much of the confusion began to arise when the school board reviewed a revised sample of the committee framework. Many board members wanted to review an original copy of the state framework without the committee’s changes.
Devanshi Mistry, a senior at Liberty High School and a student representative on the school board, asked Guilford about the language that was updated from the state framework.
“What specific things were removed because I don’t have the original [to] compare and see what changes have been made – I would appreciate if the source material could see the changes,” Mistry said.
Frazier echoed Mistry’s sentiments.
“I’m not a voting member, but whenever the Board of Commissioners has looked at something, we always have the original there and it makes it clearer what has been done,” he said.
School board president Kenneth Kiler agreed and pointed to the absence of Jim Rodriguez, the school system’s health and physical education supervisor.
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“I don’t understand why we don’t see a full package…my last discussion was that Mr. Rodriguez would be with you and he was getting the proper information to make sure this was on the agenda,” said Killer.
School board member Tara Battaglia, who is running for re-election to her school board seat, said she would support the committee’s recommendations.
“I would be fine with endorsing that, but I see what everyone is saying about [reviewing] the original and the edits, which is what we normally do with politics,” she said.
School board member Patricia Dorsey, who is running for re-election to the school board, later made a motion to table the vote. The motion failed because no other member seconded it.
“We started from scratch on this, as requested, with the staff,” Guilford said. “So to get to this point is a little disappointing – all the information we’ve been asked to present is there and all the standards are still in place.”
After further discussion and an apology from the school board in Guilford, Battaglia moved another motion to table the vote until the June 8 board meeting. Kiler seconded this motion, and it was approved.
“Very rarely have we had anything at this council that wasn’t ready for a vote…although all I see [in the committee’s recommendations] I like it,” said Kiler, who is running for a seat on the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in this year’s election.