Thursday, February 24, 2005


Ian Harvey's Florida teaching certificate, No. 653427, has been suspended for a year. The former Lely High English and media teacher has maintained he's a scapegoat, a lone voice for peace in a wilderness of warmongers. But the Florida Education Practices Commission met earlier this month, and in the settlement, Harvey signed off on the suspension. Commissioner of Education Jim Horne cited Harvey in violating nine teaching standards, including failing to take reasonable precautions to distinguish between his personal views and those of the school system in his classroom.

"The misogynistic, homophobic, racist warmongerers in the classroom there in Collier County-and there are plenty-have nothing to worry about because the School Board shares their views," Harvey wrote Friday in an e-mail to the Daily News.

After Sept. 11, 2001, things were never the same for Harvey. He taught in Collier County schools for 10 years with good evaluations. Then after 9/11, Harvey entered the media spotlight after participating in an anti-war rally with a couple of his students.

In February 2002, the Collier School District investigator found Harvey's teaching practices violated district and state teaching standards. And later that month, he was suspended without pay for three days and reassigned to an Immokalee adult education position. In the next year, the teacher made a couple of court appearances. In July 2003, he agreed to a plea agreement, pleading no contest and paying court costs of $160, after being charged with resisting arrest during a March anti-war demonstration in Fort Myers. Then in August 2003, police arrested the teacher on driving under the influence and drug charges. He later pleaded no contest - his driver license suspended for six months and agreed to participate in the diversion program, similar to probation, involving counseling.

School District officials fired Harvey in December 2003. Now, two years after district officials sent their findings to Tallahassee, Commissioner of Education Horne has settled the teaching allegations against Harvey by suspending his Florida teaching certificate for one year. District internal investigator Peter DeBaun found Harvey engaged in the following inappropriate conduct between August and December 2001.

- Used his mass media class as a forum to express his hostility toward the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, American business practices, social policy, mainstream media, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization

- Criticized and belittled students for disagreeing with his personal political views in class and caused them to feel their grade would be lowered if they continued

- Gave extra credit to students who sent e-mail supporting him after his appearance on the Fox television show "The O'Reilly Factor," but failed to give any credit to students who sent e-mails supporting the show's host

- Used curse words in class

- Encouraged students to attend anti-war rallies and failed to warn them that he had been threatened with physical violence

"They were going to suspend it (my teaching certificate) for one year for teaching peace before my August 2003 arrest, and since they are still going to suspend it for the same amount of time even after I broke the law, it's even clearer that my greatest 'crime' to the folks in charge of running the indoctrination, not education, system there in that balmy, polluted 'paradise,' is having pro-peace, pro-worker, pro-environment views, period," Harvey wrote.



For most of them making life smoother for teachers is what it is all about

"IMAGINE THIS: A progressive Democrat is elected president. In his early days in office he articulates his belief that America owes all of its citizens a quality education, and that long after Brown v. Board of Education this promise is still denied to far too many poor children, particularly children of color. He declares this ''achievement gap'' to be a national disgrace, saying that it is unacceptable that the average African-American and Latino child is doing in 12th grade what the average white child is doing in 8th grade.

The new president, with the active support of Senator Ted Kennedy, passes a law that puts the power of the federal government behind his vision for our schools, dramatically expanding its reach into public education. The law requires that all states adopt standards for what children need to know and assessments to determine whether all children, in all demographic groups, are meeting these standards, with real consequences for schools that fail to make adequate progress toward closing the achievement gap. Under the new law, states are required to allow parents with children in failing schools to transfer their child to a higher performing traditional public school or public charter school.

For progressives this should be seen as a dream scenario, a declaration that closing the achievement gap is the great civil rights enterprise of our time. Of course, you could be sure that conservatives would rage against this radical intrusion by the federal government into territory long reserved for state and local authorities. But you could also be sure that liberal activists and their allies in public education would staunchly defend the legislation's ambitious, egalitarian goals.

In fact, just such a momentous law has been passed and is now being implemented. But as painful as it is for me, a progressive Democrat, to acknowledge, it was a conservative Republican president who passed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), and it is traditionally Democratic education groups and activists who decry the law as intrusive federal meddling. And true to the confusing and peculiar politics of education reform, instead of embracing the laudable goals of NCLB-and joining in a bipartisan effort to repair its flaws-the institutional players in education and their allies have put their energy into fighting it.

To veterans of the education wars at the state level, this peculiar political situation comes as no surprise. In state battles over reforming schools, liberal and conservative labels have lost their meaning. Instead, the battle lines are drawn between those who are willing to take on powerful institutional interests and contemplate systemic change and those who are not.

In Massachusetts we have seen this peculiar political situation play out in the contentious battles around implementing our own version of ''standards-based reform,'' the Education Reform Act of 1993 (which I coauthored). Passed in response to a crisis in public education, the theory behind Massachusetts' law is that if you give school districts a more equitable funding base, establish state standards for student achievement, monitor districts' progress through student testing, and empower school leaders by enacting significant management reforms-such as removing principals from collective bargaining-districts will figure out how to improve.

Many liberals and education associations bitterly fought the management reforms as well as the essential testing component of this strategy, MCAS, in both the state house and in federal and state courtrooms. Many continue the fight to this day, despite the fact that 10 years of standard-based reform has produced considerable progress. Massachusetts schools are now at the top in national comparisons, and despite dire predictions of mass failure 96 percent of seniors passed the high school MCAS requirement and now graduate with a high school diploma that actually means something.

Last week, in its decision in the Hancock case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected the plaintiffs' request-supported by the teachers' unions and other institutional groups representing various educational interests-that the court order the state to send more money to underperforming districts. Other groups, such as the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (which I manage), are proposing a more comprehensive strategy which includes raising our expectations for student performance through a statewide ''campaign for proficiency,'' additional management reforms, and targeted new expenditures for expanding state assistance to school districts, early childhood education, and extended time on learning through a longer school day. Still arguing that money is all that is needed, and lacking any systemic reform agenda of their own, the institutional interests will continue to oppose changes in the system that will empower school leaders to tackle the many dysfunctions of underperforming schools".

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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