Harbaugh opposed to standardized tests

October 20, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of profiles on Washington County Board of Education candidates.

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Elect Barry Harbaugh to the Washington County Board of Education and the school system will lose a substitute teacher, he said.

Harbaugh, 45, of Clear Spring, said he will quit his position as a long-term English substitute teacher at South Hagerstown High School if elected to the board. It would be necessary to leave the job to avoid potential conflicts of interest, he said.

Harbaugh entered the School Board race because he was disappointed in the 2002 election, when only three candidates ran for three seats, he said. He wanted to ensure there would be a larger field of candidates in the 2004 election, he said.


"I want to try to make my voice heard and make those who feel they are not heard be a little louder," he said.

Harbaugh is one of 16 people who filed for four open seats on the School Board. The eight candidates with the most votes in the March 2 primary - one of whom was Harbaugh - are on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

He was surprised he was selected to move on in the election, he said.

"I got in by the skin of my teeth," he said.

Harbaugh was raised in Sharpsburg and graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1977.

In 1988, he moved to North Carolina, where he taught for two years, he said.

During that time, he and his wife, Dawn, decided they did not like living so far away from their relatives in Maryland, he said.

They moved back in 1990, he said.

Harbaugh has a 12-year-old son, Nicholas, who is in seventh grade at Clear Spring Middle School.

Harbaugh said he is opposed to standardized tests.

"It evaluates teachers, not how well a student learns," he said.

He called the No Child Left Behind Act "mean-spirited, vindictive legislation." The federal legislation is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students are academically proficient.

He objects to the federal government saying at what level students should be, he said.

"It is like saying people should run the mile in four minutes," he said. It might be a good idea in theory, but it is unrealistic, he said.

He said he thinks schools would work better without the state and federal education mandates.

Instead, he said, schools should give teachers more control over the classroom, he said.

"Allow teachers to teach. Allow them to do their jobs and evaluate the students. If a teacher thinks a student is not ready, then let the teacher hold the student back," he said.

Harbaugh said he supports Gov. Robert Ehrlich's proposal to fund education with money from slot machines. Ehrlich's plan is better than proposals to raise taxes to pay for education, he said.

"Maryland residents are already taxed to death, so that is not an option," Harbaugh said.

Coming Thursday: Roxanne Ober

Candidate would increase use of Technical High School

If elected to the Washington County Board of Education, Barry Harbaugh said he would:

· Push for increased use of the Washington County Technical High School so more students who are not college-bound can learn a trade.

· Work to give teachers higher salaries if there is no way for teachers to get more respect from the administration or more control of the classroom.

· Change the school system's policy on students dropping out so that if high school students want to quit school, they can do so. The school system should let these students see what life is like without a full education, he said.

· Suggest private fund-raising be done to pay for capital improvements, as is being done with a planned high school stadium. The route is needed since the Washington County Board of Education has limited funding, he said.

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