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School Board candidate says educators should guide curriculum

December 30, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

After being disappointed that only three people ran for three Washington County Board of Education seats last year, and an ongoing disappointment that teachers and students take most of the heat on low test scores, Barry C. Harbaugh said he decided to get involved.

Harbaugh, 44, of Clear Spring, is one of 16 people to file for four seats up for grabs on the School Board. A primary election will be held March 2, after which eight candidates will advance to the general election, to be held Nov. 2.

With an 11-year-old boy in the school system, Harbaugh, who said he was an English and history teacher for two years in North Carolina, said he's tired of hearing about the pressure facing teachers and students.

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"You cannot hold a teacher responsible if a student doesn't want to study or doesn't want to work," he said. "That's a parent's job."

The federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students are academically proficient, is not a law that easily can be enforced, he said.

"It's like world peace: It's a wonderful idea, but unless the federal government is going to fund it, it's not really that achievable," he said.

Teaching to the test too often is the scenario in county schools, said Harbaugh, who added that he's not a fan of standardized tests.

"I would like to see the decisions put more in the teachers' hands as to what and how to teach," he said.

Decisions about what goes on in the classroom too often are made by people who aren't there, he said.

Harbaugh said he wants to sit down and look at how the school system spends its money and hasn't had a chance yet to look through the federal act.

"I don't care where the money comes from, just as long as we get it," he said.

He said funding is a primary concern because if the school system had more money, it could hire and retain more teachers, and build and renovate more schools.

He said he thinks the Washington County Technical High School is underused, there are too few interactive television lessons and the proposed North Hagerstown High School athletic complex is necessary considering the growth of athletic programs and of the school.

From what he reads of the School Board's actions and the occasional School Board meetings he sees on television, Harbaugh said he's disappointed in the number of questions School Board members ask regarding what they're voting on.

"I'm tenacious. If I ask a question, I want to get an answer," he said.

Harbaugh, who recently finished a job working in receiving for a local printing company, said he spends his free time doing community theater, reading history and writing poetry.

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