'Outcomes' education key issue in school race

November 07, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

A comfortable lead in the primary will probably assure Carolyn L. Scott of re-election to her school board seat tomorrow, but which of the other three candidates will win the second seat is anyone's call.

The other candidates shared very close percentages in the primary. With Ms. Scott carrying about 19 percent of the vote, Laura E. Albers came in second with 13 percent, and Carole M. "Cyd" Pecoraro and Gary W. Bauer came in third and fourth, respectively, at about 12 percent each.

But that was a primary, which draws fewer voters than a general election, and it was based on a large field of 11 candidates, with the delineations not quite as clear as they are now with the four contenders.

"Carolyn Scott is almost a lock, she finished far enough ahead [in the primary]," predicted school board member Joseph D. Mish. "The other seat will be between Albers and Pecoraro."

Mr. Mish declined to say who will get his vote, pointing out that he'll have to work with whoever wins. He said his favorite candidate, Michael R. Baker, lost in the primary.

The candidates are not running in any blocs, but philosophically, they have each come down into two camps, with Ms. Scott and Ms. Pecoraro sharing similar approaches, such as support of outcomes-based education as a way to strengthen academics.

Meanwhile, Ms. Albers and Mr. Bauer have gotten strong support from conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who say outcomes-based education will shift the focus from academics to social programs.

But the election is nonpartisan, and candidates are not running in formal pairs.

"I think the voters will do that on their own," Ms. Scott said. "If people ask me who I'm voting for, I tell them. I'm voting for Carole Pecoraro. And I hope that doesn't hurt her.

"We're not running together," Ms. Scott said. "We considered it, we talked about it, but we decided we could stand on our own merits."

Political party affiliations are not clear in all cases. Mr. Bauer is an active Republican, but Ms. Albers said she is politically independent.

Ms. Scott is a Republican, and Ms. Pecoraro is a former Republican who said she changed parties so she could vote for her husband, Gregory Pecoraro, chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.

Ms. Albers and Mr. Bauer will probably get the votes of conservative Christians, but the lines aren't as clear, because Ms. Scott and Ms. Pecoraro are also Christians, as are all current members of the school board.

But Ms. Albers and Mr. Bauer have emphasized many issues that national groups such as the Christian Coalition have raised, including outcomes-based education.

Mr. Bauer and Ms. Albers were among the vocal parent activists who rose up in the spring of 1993 to oppose that philosophy in Carroll County schools.

Much of their campaign support and contributions have come from others involved in the movement.

Outcomes-based education means setting specific goals for what students are to know by the end of a unit, course and their schooling.

Mr. Bauer and Ms. Albers said the system focuses on values and feelings instead of academics and will lead to more group learning.

Ms. Scott and Ms. Pecoraro said the approach clarifies goals, seeks countywide consistency in schools and does indeed focus on academics and skills for succeeding in jobs.

"This issue has polarized the community," said C. Scott Stone, a school board member who has endorsed Ms. Pecoraro. "People are having to come down on one side or the other of an issue that has gray areas."

If the primary results are viewed as a referendum on outcomes, the results were almost 50-50, with slightly more votes going to candidates who supported outcomes.

Although the outcomes approach has elicited strong feelings on both sides, Mr. Mish said, "The vast majority of people are tremendously confused about it."

Mr. Mish, the only evangelical Christian on the board, said he isn't as concerned about outcomes as most of the religious right. He has not objected to the local outcomes, but said his concern is that it may someday be out of local control, with state and federal officials setting standards.

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