Protesters lined the curb outside the Maryland State Department of Education building in downtown Monday, carrying signs denouncing what they say is the federal takeover of education.
The group of 36 said they are against the common core standards, a perfunctory list of what children should be able to do by the end of each grade in school. (For instance the standards determine by what grade students should be adding and subtracting whole numbers.) Local teachers and school districts can determine the lessons and what textbooks and other materials will be used.
The common core standards have become the flash point for both the far right and the far left who are against the introduction of the standards in 45 states and the District of Columbia this year.
At Monday's rally, few of the protesters seemed to have children in public schools except Nancy Santiago of Woodbine who brought her high school daughter to the protest to teach her about the democratic process. She said she was not well versed about the issue, but said she does have concerns that the common core has been implemented before it is ready.
"It is an untested methodology," she said.
Many protesters said they fear the government will be collecting personal data about their children and determining what they believe.
Jennifer Hicks of Waldorf, a mother who home-schools her children, said she believes the state will keep track of a family's religion and political views in a database. The state is collecting information on every public school's test data and the name of teachers, but state officials are not allowed to collect information on religion or political views, according to state regulation.
Tom deSabla, a Republican candidate for county commission president in Charles County, said he believes the federal government is using the common core to consolidate power just as the Nazis did in Germany.
"I am a home-schooling Dad. I am not a fan of public schools," he said, adding that he worries that Charles County will lose the ability to decide what is taught in its schools. "All I need to know is that the federal government is increasing its role in education," he said.
"It sounds as though they are trying to mind control our kids," said Ricky Jones of Catonsville. For instance, Jones and his wife, Pam Barretto-Jones, believe the government will tell children that it is acceptable to be gay.
The standards do not specify that any beliefs or political ideas be taught.
No state education officials attended the rally outside their doors, but Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the department, said, “The Common Core State Standards are being implemented in all Maryland public schools this year, increasing academic rigor and better preparing our students for college or career after their graduation from high school."