BALTIMORE, Md. – A Maryland father could face up to 10 years in prison after he spoke out of turn when criticizing Common Core standards at a Maryland State Department of Education forum.
Robert Small, a state Department of Veterans Affairs research manager from Ellicott City, interrupted Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance during a forum on Common Core in Towson last week and pleaded his case against the national standards, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Small told the audience he believed Common Core would lower standards and would only help prepare students for community college, rather than four-year institutions.
Small, who has a sixth-grader and a second-grader in Howard County, Maryland schools, told school officials who participated in the forum “You are not preparing them for Harvard,” the Sun reports.
The criticism against Common Core is growing in the 45 states and the District of Columbia as school officials begin to implement the standards.
Both conservative and leftist critics of Common Core are raising objections about the national standards for a variety of reasons, from privacy concerns regarding questionable student data collection to issues with the cost of technology upgrades needed to administer Common Core tests.
In Maryland, department of education officials are holding public forums to address concerns from the public, but the public is not permitted to speak during the meetings. Instead, parents and taxpayers are supposed to write their questions on paper and submit them to state education officials on a panel, who answer the questions they want to answer, the Sun reports.
Small, 46, apparently wanted more direct answers, but when he spoke up, state education officials sent an officer into the crowd to shut him down.
“The police report said Dance’s chief of staff, Michele Prumo, who was standing on the side of the auditorium, had asked the officer to walk over and calm Small down. The report also said Small had attempted to push the officer away when he first confronted him,” the news site reports.
“Let’s go. Let’s go,” the security guard said.
“Let him ask his question,” someone from the audience shouted.
“The officer grabbed Small’s arm and pulled him toward the aisle. The audience gasped and some people sitting nearby got out of their seats,” the Sun reports.
Small was hauled out of the forum and shoved into the hall, handcuffed, and then sat on the curb in front of the building until police arrived. The officer providing security in the meeting was an off-duty Baltimore County police officer, the news site reports.
Small shouted on his way out:
“Don’t stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle,” he said, according to the Sun. “Is this America?”
Police charged Small with second-degree assault of a police officer, a 10-year felony, as well as disturbing a school operation, which carries a maximum of six months in jail. Both offenses also carry a fine of up to $2,500, the news site reports.
“Look, I am being manhandled and shut down because I asked inconvenient questions,” Small told the Sun after he was released from jail around 3 a.m. “Why won’t they allow an open forum where there can be a debate. We are told to sit there and be lectured to about how great Common Core is.”