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Democrats: Say No To Peroutka, Peroutka: Say No to Education Monopoly

P. Kenneth Burns

Maryland Democrats trained some of their biggest guns, from U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards to House Speaker Michael Busch to two Annapolis Aldermen, on one Republican County Council candidate Tuesday.

They staged a news conference at the State House to urge the residents of Anne Arundel’s District 5 to vote against Michael Anthony Peroutka.

Busch, whose House district shares part of the council district, criticized Peroutka’s earlier statements on education. Local governments, Busch said, are obligated to pay for schools systems.

“If you have people on the county council rejecting [the] funding of public education, then you have a serious problem and conflict with the state of Maryland,” said Busch.

That led Peroutka, who showed up at the event, to modify his stand on education.

Previously, Peroutka told The Annapolis Capital free, public education was a Communist plank Karl Marx advocated.  In past commentaries, he said public schools “were conceived, planned, developed and are run for the purpose of destroying America” in addition to “[getting] rid of Christianity.”

After the Democratic news conference, Peroutka called the current public education system “a monopoly,” citing provisions in the state constitution.

“The constitution calls for an encouragement of public education but that doesn’t mean that the curriculum is driven by the state,” he said.

Susan O’Brien, campaign manager for Patrick Armstrong; the Democratic candidate, said voters in the district will educate themselves and see Peroutka’s “extreme” views.

“[Peroutka] is on record in his blog and in his writings as anti-public education; he called it a cesspool,” O’Brien said.  Education is the centerpiece of Armstrong’s campaign.

Edwards, whose Congressional district includes a few precincts in Anne Arundel’s fifth, said Peroutka’s position “has been rejected by 238 years of history in this country.”

“I believe Mr. Peroutka needs to be rejected by Republicans nationally, here in this state and the voters need to reject him as well,” she said.

Other Democrats included several candidates running for office along with Annapolis Aldermen Sheila Finlayson and Kenneth Kirby.  Finlayson and Kirby sponsored an Annapolis city resolution opposing Peroutka’s candidacy.

The Rev. Henry Green, who is running for House of Delegates in a district that includes part of the county council district, accused Peroutka of “changing what he believes” by cancelling his membership to the secessionist group League of the South.

“I’ve been a Baptist minister for 35 years,” Green said. “I’m a reverend, I’m not going to relinquish the title reverend nor am I going to relinquish who I am or who I’ve been over all these years.”