Clear Language, Clear Goals CARROLL COUNTY

April 19, 1993

Carroll's citizens, school administrators and teachers have come a lot closer to defining what county children should know and be able to master upon graduating from the school system.

The second draft of the so-called "Exit Outcomes" is a vast improvement over the jargon-ridden original.

Much of the opposition that seems to have surfaced over these goals may stem from the initial document. Descriptions of the objectives were vague and open to a variety of interpretations. The language of the revised draft is more precise, although some foggy phrases remain and should be eliminated.

Most of the goals outlined in the statement are straight-forward. Certainly, no parent could oppose the concept that children learn to "think openly and creatively" or "create personal goals and establish priorities" or "demonstrate an appreciation for the arts." These laudable standards are worthy of support.

There are awkward passages masquerading as goals, however.

The worst is "develop wellness." There must be a better way of expressing the idea behind this clunker of a phrase. While "use resources" is better than "utilize resources," the revision is nearly as obscure as the original.

The committee drafting this documents has to realize that its choice of words is responsible for much of the opposition. Parents who object to the effort to develop standards for the school system seem to have read into these goals diabolical motives that weren't intended.

Parents concerned that these new goals amount to an experiment in "social engineering" should know that lessons other than reading, writing and arithmetic have always been a part of public schooling. The modern school is closely fashioned after the schools created in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Discipline, order and obedience are as important as algebra, grammar and history. Students, particularly those in middle and high schools, may not get grades on attitude and behavior, but they are important components of their schooling, nonetheless.

Parents should realize that this process is no more revolutionary than the distilling of traditional education goals into clear, precise language for everyone to understand.

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