Too smart to teach

This is mind-boggling. Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marquis Harris, a black college graduate with excellent credentials, says he was rejected for a high school teaching job for being too articulate. He quotes from the rejection letter.

Recently, I interviewed with a school in one of the metro Atlanta counties, only to receive an e-mail from the principal stating, “Though your qualifications are quite impressive, I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate. It was felt that your demeanor and therefore presence in the classroom would serve as an unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could strive to achieve or become. However, it is highly recommended that you seek employment at the collegiate level; there your intellectual comportment would be greatly appreciated. Good luck.”

Astounding. Via Sheila O’Malley.

About Joanne


  1. Alene Berk says:

    Why do I have this funny idea that it’s not the kids who’d be threatened by “unrealistic expectations” raised by Mr. Harris?

  2. My jaw is still hanging.

    My district would snap up Mr. Harris immediately, and then most likely promote him the following year, if not before. I’m not saying this is right, but like anywhere else, my district has a paucity of black male teachers/administrators — in a district that is approx. 40% black. In their desire to be seen as diverse, central office admins. urge good black male teachers to seek admin. positions, too frequently before they’re ready or even if they don’t want to. Sort of a Catch-22.

  3. Walter Wallis says:

    Soft bigotry.

  4. anon former teacher says:

    Alene is exactly correct.

  5. Taken as a whole, makes you wonder if there’s a conspiracy afoot.

  6. Same here, Dave. Except the emphasis is on keeping them in the classrooms where they have a direct effect (of the type this principal is so afraid of) on students.

  7. Here’s some background I found on Marquis Harris. This kid should serve as an inspiration, not an “unrealistic expectation” to students with similar upbringings.

    (Sorry it’s not a hyperlink)

    Rob A.

  8. Yes, my friends, a conspiracy is afoot. We are witnessing the revenge of Yakoob, the evil wizard who in time before memory created the race of white devils to steal the world away from people of color. Yakoob is horrified by the progress now made by blacks and conspires to keep them down by promulgating a “black culture” that rejects rigor and erudition.

    Either that or somebody’s buddy or relative needed the job.

  9. “However, it is highly recommended that you seek employment at the collegiate level; there your intellectual comportment would be greatly appreciated”

    There is a good chance he would not find appreciation for his “intellectual comportment” in freshman writing course at an average university.

  10. “Unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could expect to achieve or become” has infested our whole society – unrealistically low expectation, that is.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.

  11. There is something so wrong here. It’s like the man who wasn’t allowed to be a police officer because he tested “too smart” or something like that. The police department said it was a retention issue, claiming that the man would become bored with policework. In this case, expect a similar argument from the school district once this story hits the national news. The worst thing is, I can kinda-sorta see their point: this guy’s probably going to be driven nuts by the school, his fellow employees, and the students. But even conceding their (as yet undelivered) argument, this stinks.

    I hope Marquis Harris runs for a local school board. If he can’t teach, at least let him dictate to teachers.

  12. From the book of Retarded Bureaucracy:

    The school district sayeth unto Marquis, “Thou art so intelligent, it would be an embarassment unto other teachers, wouldst that thou were hired.” And Marquis sayeth, “Woe unto the people, whose children I shall not educate; yea, woe unto us all.” And the people wept.

  13. “If he can’t teach, at least let him dictate to teachers.”

    But will the teachers listen? “You’ve got no experience, Mr. Harris!” As a professor, I would resent getting unrealistic advice from someone who’s never been in my shoes. I can understand why teachers get defensive – up to a point.

    If Harris is “unrealistic” (yet, of course, very, very REAL), I wonder what would be a “realistic” role model for students.

  14. D. Cooper says:

    Can’t we name names here ? The school district needs to be embarrassed, and the parents need to know what the administration and the school district are all about !!

  15. Sorry, I’m not buying it. There is clearly something else going on here…
    He applied for positions in SIX separate counties and didn’t get a single offer?!?

    “I applied to metro Atlanta counties including Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, plus the Atlanta public schools, all to no avail.”

    I might believe the story if it was once a-hole
    of an administrator… but SIX counties? Not one offer?? No… I think this is not the whole story…

  16. As presented, my jaw is still on the floor. But I’m with the others: I want a backstory, and take names!

  17. I think the fact that he’s got Kentucky credentials might have made him undesirable in the other districts. We can admit he’s qualified, but was he certified? That can be an expensive hurdle now that the No Child Left Behind Act and similar things make uncertified teachers factor into whether or not a school is “failing”. It’s a stupid bit of word games, but it shows just what teachers, would-be teachers, and districts (not to mention students and taxpayers) have to deal with.

    I’m writing this as someone with a Master’s in Library Science who is uncertified to work in a school library here in Arizona because I haven’t taken the required education classes. Somehow, knowing a subject enough to visit classes and teach isn’t the same as being qualified to take roll and be able to spit out rubrics. I’m bitter and underemployed, but I can see that I’m not the only one.

  18. I think Marquis is thinking on too small a scale. Joanne, please get an email address for this guy, so that we can send him some encouragement.

  19. Ben Rogers says:

    Since Mr. Harris is also the author of the story, isn’t it at least reasonable, as one person already pointed out, to find out a little more before reaching the conclusion that he was rejected because he was overqualified? That’s his spin on it, — he says the letter referred to his “demeanor,” which could mean many things, but “overqualified” would not be the first one that comes to my mind. Research by Robert Rosenthal and colleagues at Harvard have shown that hiring decisions in interviews are often made based on non-verbal cues rather than on other criteria.

  20. PJ/Maryland says:

    Does anyone know what “credentialed in Kentucky” means, exactly? It sounds like Harris only has a BA, and I know the schools around here prefer to hire people with their Masters; at a minimum, I think you have to agree to take classes towards an M.A. right away.

    Also, he applied to six school districts; it may be that some of them weren’t looking for high school Social Studies teachers. Does anyone know how hard up the Atlanta schools are for teachers right now?

    That said, there’s no excuse for the principal saying “It was felt your demeanor…” etc. The tone of the letter does suggest that the school is in a position to pick and choose. (Have to say, the “It is highly recommended…” sets my teeth on edge.) Be interesting to know who they did hire; if it was another black 22 yo male, would we feel better?

  21. Peter Geddes says:

    I agree with ‘jab’. In any outraged victim story I want evidence from someone other than the outraged victim.

  22. Rob A’s URL leads to a poem about child abuse by Marquis Harris written when he was in high school. He lived in a foster home from the age of 13.

  23. speedwell says:

    I attended high school in Gwinnett County, and had friends in all the other counties Marquis mentions except Clayton County (and I got to know a lot of them in college). Last I checked, they all had gifted and magnet programs that were badly in need of competent teachers. Of course, this was (dating myself here) about fifteen years ago.

    Don’t be too sure it isn’t a race thing, either. In all three years I attended the Gwinnett high school, there was not one single black student or teacher for one single day of class, except for a little student teacher that got harassed so badly by the varsity football team and some of the teachers that she left crying after less than a week and never came back.

  24. aschoolyardblogger says:

    There is also the possibility that this young man would have the audacity to question the things he would see in the high school environment. And questioning is not not something the high schools are looking for.

  25. Some here have questioned whether we can be sure whether or not the writer is telling the real story. But if he weren’t, wouldn’t you have expected the school system to challenge him in print by now? I doubt that the AJC would refuse to print it..

  26. Mark Odell says:

    David Foster wrote: But if he weren’t, wouldn’t you have expected the school system to challenge him in print by now?

    Not necessarily.

    “Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.”

    Then there is always the possibility that the school system just doesn’t care.

  27. Funny. When I went to high school back in the seventies, Florida was supposed to have one of the worst educational systems in the country, yet I took classes taught by people holding masters degrees and PhDs. Of course, they were college prep and advanced placement classes, but am I to understand that the Georgia school system a) does not offer those, or b) just doesn’t hire anyone with a degree higher than a bachelor’s?

  28. Maybe Marquis Harris should axe them to reconsider?

  29. Just read the whole column by Mr. Harris. As a former long time citizen of Atlanta I have to say that one part of Mr. Harris’ resume stood out like a sore thumb to me and must have caused quite a situation at the schools he applied to. Mr. Harris interned for Saxby Chambliss.

    Three letters for you: GOP
    Three more: NEA

    And ne’er the twain shall meet. Few things are more distasteful to the liberal party line than an articulate, qualified individual of any non-caucasian ethnicity who happens to be a Republican. Just look at the furor over the nominating and voting on Federal Judges.

    Perhaps there is more to the story than Mr. Harris knows or is willing to share. But the fact remains that there is little need or want in the Atlanta school systems for a Republican teacher, especially one who could, in the thoughts of the administrators, potentially influence future minority students to lean right or learn to think as individuals.

    Just a thought.

  30. Peter – That jumped out at me as well. He should try applying again without Chambliss on his resume.

  31. I noticed that too. Chambliss isn’t just any Republican either; he was involved in a bitter Senate election campaign where he was accused of questioning the patriotism of Max Cleland, a handicapped war hero, in a campaign ad (I don’t think he did, but that’s a whole other story). It could be that emotions still run strongly enough about the election in Georgia that any mention of having worked with Chambliss is grounds for disqualification among a leftist crowd.

  32. If he was GOP, then he wasn’t a minority (regardless of what his color or ethnicity might be). Look at Powell and Rice – they aren’t black, they’re Republican. Michael Jackson could have saved all that plastic surgery money by just changing his voter registration.

  33. please, krm, please tell me that’s sarcasm in your post.

  34. I don’t think the educational establishment is as politically monolithic as the NEA would lead you to believe. I know plenty of Republican teachers and administrators.

  35. Those that can — do. Those that can’t — teach.

    Obviously, those that can cannot teach!

  36. Look, I’m not defending any dumbing down of the ranks of teachers. But being articulate and Mensa-intelligent are NOT the only qualifications for a successful high school teacher. You have to be able to connect at some level with the students and maybe the principal thought he would be a failure at that.

  37. Peter (above) was exactly right in his thinking…After reading the entire article on the one thing that stood out to me was the name Saxby Chambliss on the resume. I went to school in one of the metro-Atlanta counties Mssr. Harris mentioned in his article, and the rejection due to party affiliation is definitely plausible. With the animosity towards the GOP gaining steam (without any comprehensible reason) I can see this happening often.

    It is hard to imagine that with all of the left’s constant calls for increasing public education expenditures and pure distaste for school vouchers they cannot seem to look at the most basic problem with the current system–the quality of teachers and administrators being hired. It is obvious this county has failed in that regard, creating an entire county of “child(ren) left behind”

  38. I, too was turned down for a job as an elementary educator in California because I was too professional and answered the interview questions too well. This was explained to me by an assistant superintendent who added that I probably initimidated the 9 person interview panel. A final note, I shouldn’t wear a suit- again too intimidating and professional.

  39. Bill Bryan says:

    Two Dumb Atlanta Teacher Anecdotes:

    1. 20 years ago a Feisty Atlanta Teacher (FAT)
    friend of mine was one of over 200 Atlanta teachers who took a proposed: “Teacher Certification Test” Very quickly FAT realized
    that the test was a GED/High School Equivalency
    test. FAT was not annoyed or upset, completed
    the test and asked the test givers to give FAT
    her personal scores and the overall pass/failure
    rate of the 200+ City of Atlanta teachers who
    took the test. Results:

    1. FAT easily passed all five sections of the
    “Teacher Certification/GED Test” the first time.
    2. 40% of the Black Atlanta School teachers
    failed one or more of the 5 sections.
    3. 5% of the White Atlanta School teachers failed
    one or more of the 5 sections.
    4. Most teachers failed the Math portion of the
    5. Most teachers who took the test had Masters

    “Bill,” said FAT, “most of the Math portion was 6th grade level math! And many Atlanta teachers
    —even math teachers—failed 6th grade math!?
    We are truly destroying City of Atlanta kids.”

    Uh, there are two caveats to the above test

    1. Teachers’ unions like the NEA and AFT strongly
    advised their members to fail this test because
    they were insulted that any teacher’s competency
    would be questioned.
    2. There were no punishments for failure or no
    rewards given for passing. If rewards had been
    given to those who passed, the passing rate might
    have been higher; that being said, why did 40% or the Black teachers fail and just 5% of the White teachers FAIL!?

    We need Choice in Education!

    Bill Bryan
    [email protected]

    ps I thought FAT might have been exaggerating
    when she said that a person with good 6th Grade Math skills should easily pass the GED Math portion even though 20% of the questions
    were Algebra, Geometry or Trig questions. I
    took the GED shortly after FAT did; and, SHE

  40. Bill — welcome to the achievement gap!

    I’d probably fail the math portion if I went in to that test cold. I haven’t touched trig in at least 20 years. I’m not sure what that means about my ability to teach English. How are your sentence diagramming skills?

  41. Marquis Harris says:

    Greeting everyone. I have recently run across this web site and was surprised to hear so many people discussing my article. I would like to clear up a couple of things. First, the AJC did in fact see the copy of the email that was sent to me – this was done before they printed the article. Second, I deliberately chose not to reveal the names of the principal, school, or school system because I am not interested in having someone lose their job, that is not motive. I would be lying if I were to say that none of this is personal – of course it is. However, there is also a larger picture that I am looking at. I am interested in what the expectations are of both students and teachers in the classroom. I wonder if anyone has ever thought seriously why Georgia is ranked 48th and 49th in the nation on numerous educational standards? Third, I did indeed consider going to graduate school after undergrad (as I mentioned in the article, law school was one of those options). However, it was recommended to me by several school officials to get in the school system first and then go to grad school. The rationale was that school districts would be less willing to hire someone with a masters than a bachelors because that would mean having to pay the master’s level candidate more money off the bat. I do eventually have plans to go back to school and to get a dual master’s in education and political science, leading up to an eventual Ph.D in policy sci. My long term goal is to be a legislator one day while concentrating primarily on education and child-social welfare reform. It never occurred to me to consider the consequences of my political affiliation – I guess I find it asinine that education is a partisan issue. I appreciate all of the supportive comments that have been made and even the constructive feedback. I will assure you that the contents of the article in question was factual and I have no desire to fabricate an issue for which I share a great deal of passion for. My email address is [email protected] I welcome any additional comments or questions. Thank you

  42. Rita C.:

    I’m a writer by trade, & I’ve never diagrammed a sentence in my life. (I was lucky enough to have a succession of teachers who preferred results to methods.) Although I am not working in a technical field, I can do trig on my head. (Not IN my head, mind you; I need a calculator to do sines & tangents for nontrivial values.) And I never so much as finished high school. What’s your excuse?

  43. Jay, you win the contest. You are Very Smart and I am Very Dumb.

  44. The problem with the education system (well one of many problems) is the low expectations. If you only push kids to master basic algerbra in high school you’ll be lucky if you get a small percentage that actually do it. However if you push kids to go on to Trig and Calculus you may still only end up with a small portion of kids that do it, but a majority of the rest will at least master basic algerbra.

    It is like where I work, you were supposed to be there at 7:00, but they really didn’t consider you late until 7:15 so guess what? Almost everyone figured that 7:15 was when they were supposed to be there so you never saw anyone before then and people were showing up at 7:30, 7:45 etc. They finally said “Ok you have to be here by 7:00, if you are here at 7:01 you are late and will be written up.” Guess what, almost everyone is on time now and most people are there 10 minutes early.

    Basically it comes down to if you set a low standard, that is what you will be lucky to get. If you set a high standard you may not get everyone up there, but you’ll get everyone a lot higher than they would normally be.

  45. Quoth Rita C.:

    ‘Jay, you win the contest. You are Very Smart and I am Very Dumb.’

    Sarcasm works better when it’s obviously ironic. I’m not ‘very smart’; I don’t claim to be, & few people would claim it on my behalf. I’m poorly educated, with outdated skills, & only marginally employable. That doesn’t make me very smart. But if you can’t perform basic tasks that I can do with ease, what does that say about you?

    It’s not a contest. It’s a question of appallingly low standards. I don’t begin to live up to the qualifications normally demanded of workers in the private sector, but it begins to seem that I, fool though I am, would be overqualified to teach. Except, that is, for one saving grace: I don’t have an M.Ed. or even a B.Ed., & I’m not permitted to earn one.

  46. Jay, when you start saying “look what I can do that you’re too dumb to do,” it is a contest. Exactly what are you expecting to achieve with the conversation when you set those parameters? Prove that you’re a better teacher than I am? FWIW, I had a prior career in the public sector in which I was successful (professional writing and editing — I still publish now and then). I switched careers because I wanted to teach. I often get job offers from outside of education. I am very well educated, and highly employable. So, it would seem that my skills are OK. I am educated enough to discern that tests intended to measure the skills of graduating high school seniors are not appropriate for measuring the skills desired of teachers. At some point in my life I’ve taken all those tests and done well on them, including the LSAT, GRE, and the PRAXIS for my teaching field. (Heck, I even passed Calc I and II at the college level.) None of them, even the PRAXIS, would serve as an accurate measure of what I should know about my field at this point in my career.

  47. Steve in Houston says:

    Just like to step into the middle of Rita’s and Jay’s slapfight to wish best of luck to Mr. Harris in achieving his goals.

    The systems sucks, but if you have drive and smarts, you can work it to your advantage. A lot of people just give up.

  48. Rita C.:

    And yet you say you couldn’t pass the math section of a GED test.

    Let me repeat: I am not competing with you. I am saying that anyone who can’t do elementary math is not qualified to teach. Not merely ‘not qualified to teach mathematics’, but not qualified to teach any subject whatever. An innumerate English teacher is no more acceptable than an illiterate math teacher!

    You seem terribly eager to announce that you couldn’t pass such a test, & on that basis to sneer at the whole idea of such testing. We actually do agree on one thing: I am not qualified to teach. But if you can’t handle simple operations with numbers, neither are you, no matter how many degrees you’ve earned, no matter how much you puff up your curriculum vitae.

    This, by the way, is utterly rich:

    ‘I am educated enough to discern that tests intended to measure the skills of graduating high school seniors are not appropriate for measuring the skills desired of teachers.’

    No kidding! I should think that the standard required of teachers was MUCH, MUCH HIGHER than that required of high-school seniors. But you are making the claim that it should actually be LOWER in one critical area. Allow me to remind you of what you said earlier:

    ‘I’d probably fail the math portion if I went in to that test cold. I haven’t touched trig in at least 20 years. I’m not sure what that means about my ability to teach English. How are your sentence diagramming skills?’

    We are talking about a test of utterly basic, trivial mathematical skills here. I know; I’ve been required to take such tests. No matter how good you are at ‘diagramming sentences’ (which by itself is a pretty poor recommendation for an English teacher), if your general knowledge is so poor that you can’t pass muster in any given subject on a junior-high level, you have no business passing yourself off as a teacher.

    Either you’re mistaken in point of fact, & could easily pass the math section of the test in question, or you really don’t have sufficient general education to be capable of teaching. I would guess it’s the former. But by claiming that such things don’t matter — that an English teacher need not know any math at all, as you are in effect saying — you are making excuses for those teachers who really are incompetent.

  49. Rest assured that I know all the math I need. I can calculate grades, figure out how much a box of cereal costs when it is advertised as 3/$5.00, balance my checkbook, do my taxes, and figure my investments. I don’t know algebra or trig anymore. I’m trying to remember the rules for doing fractions, and I’m finding them tough to recall.

    I’d be more worried about an English teacher, given an illustration of the system, who could not diagram sentences. It is just a system for learning traditional grammar — and traditional grammar is an absolutely essential knowledge area for the English teacher. As you pointed out in your post when you talked about your English teachers, grammar instruction has been out of style for quite awhile, and the grammar and usage skills of the average college grad scream why this is a problem. The lack of instruction has filtered into the ranks of new English teachers who never got a basis of traditional grammar in K-12. Without heavy remedial work in Engl. Ed. programs, grammar and usage will continue to weaken. Yes, I am very interested in this issue.

    Yes, I think testing me — an English teacher — in math is pointless and there shouldn’t even be a standard at all in that area. (Note, in order to receive a bachelor’s degree, one must pass a math course; I’m not talking about testing upon entering the field, but for those of us already in the classroom who have already presumably passed all that stuff). I think testing me in literature (classic and YA), pedagogy, composition theory, and grammar would do far more to raise the level of English teaching than asking me to re-learn how to do a quadratic equation.

    Actually, I find this emphasis on “general knowledge” really very fascinating. I’d be interested to know why you feel it is so important. Do you feel that forgetting some things makes the foundation of all future learning somehow unstable? Because I can’t remember exactly how it is one divides fractions, does it mean that comprehending Shakespeare or translating Attic Greek is impossible? I think it is important that one learns how to divide fractions (and do it well) in the early grades, but is it not possible that as we move into different fields, unused knowledge fades away for a reason? I’d be very interested to know what your theory is here, because I think that would be the basis of our disagreement. Obviously, I learned all that stuff at one time; I’m just trying to figure out why it is critical that I remember it all now.

    And, not that it means anything, but according to NCLB, I’m not only qualified to teach, I’m *highly* qualified. Whee :).

  50. Michael Gersh says:

    Am I the only one who, after reading the post from Marquis himself, above, is becoming very uneasy that this might all be a hoax. That is not even a 2.0 college graduate’s writing.

  51. Dawn Galery says:

    It is a sin and a shame that we have such proponents of mediocrity working in the school system. I thought the purpose of education was to inspire oneself to become all that one can be through exposure to all sorts of people and experiences. Marquis and others like him are the sorts of people we need in our classrooms showing children the heights they can reach. Not just in high schools, but middle and elementary schools also. To Marquis, I say reach for your dream of inspiring others. Start your own school. Show our youth what they CAN achieve.

  52. Daniel Kravetz says:

    I think Marquis Harris was being too charitable by not making public the identity of the person who told him that he was too good to teach high school in or near Atlanta. A public official who acts deliberately to deprive young people of excellence in education should be held accountable for having done so. Who knows how many of Georgia’s youth have lost the opportunity to be inspired by Mr. Harris or others like him? I wonder if Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, would permit such a thing to happen up here.

  53. Bill Freeman says:

    I smell a rat. There is too much of this stuff going on to be true. Check out the New York Times and its carrying of a person who was suppose to be qualified. This is division talking between the races at its best.

  54. i attended college with marquis harris, and he is an unquestionably intelligent man. every qualification that he quoted was true. however, i think that the comment regarding his “demeanor and therefore presence” has been overlooked. i would have to say with much confidence that this is the reason he wasn’t hired. his personality and the manner in which he presents himself would be intimidating to most high schoolers and many adults. i cannot imagine having him as a high school teacher.

  55. Delia Jankowski says:

    Marquis Harris failure may be due to “diversity”

    On the Harris case, possibly they felt he seemed not liberal enough, but IMHO, it seems to me that perhaps “diversity” may play a part.

    Contrary to the scenario drawn by some of hordes of unqualified black applicants “stealing” all the good jobs, the Harris case shows a reality
    that is very different. Despite all the talk about “diversity” in many organizations, it sometimes serves mainly as a veneer, a lot of show and PR designed to warm the hearts of the gullible and allow some people to preen and feel noble. But behind the scenes resentment festers, and “diversity” provides good (and ironic) cover for limiting the numbers allowed into the pool. Back in the 1970s, this was called “tokenism”
    — once the organization in question has “a few”, no more need apply. Asians have found this out too as regards admissions to top colleges.

    Quotas can work both ways- and against highly qualified people- just ask black NBA old timers like Connie Hawkins and other stars of
    the 1950s and the early 1960s, where only a designated number of blacks were allowed in, and roster space was reserved for less talented whites.

    Contrary to all the happy talk and polite smiles, the “diversity” environment is often one of suspicion, resentment and fear. Tensions
    re college admissions are one example, but as regards employment, the fear of racial discrimination suits is always present- indeed
    the EEOC saw big increases in cases during the 1990s, a time when “diversity” was at its height.

    A black job applicant (especially a man) is simply seen by many as a potential “problem” down the road, a walking legal case so to speak-
    part of the poisonous harvest of “diversity”.

    The line about him causing “students to aspire unrealistically” is dubious. IMHO, the real deal is that they felt they already had “enough” blacks and didn’t want one more potentially dangerous colored boy (particularly one so articulate and well qualified) to disturb the peace.

  56. Dan Marsden says:

    How come a black candidate has to demonstrate that he/she will be some sort of “role model” to kids? Whatever happened to demonstrating sound qualifications and competence in the area to be taught? How come this “role model” garbage is added on top of that- something that would not be ordinarily demanded from a white candidate? We don’t make a hiring decision for most teacher candidates (white women) based on their “potential” (real or imagined) to be be “role models” for white females in their classrooms. How come blacks have another hurdle (politically correct as it may be) to pass in this regard?

  57. Marquis Harris says:

    This is Marquis Harris writing and responding to anyone who cares enough to read. It didn’t occur to me until now that every word I uttered and wrote was going to be disected to the wire. I apologize for those who considered my last comment to be of rudimentary writing at best and would in fact use it as a discredit to my article. I never claimed I was the best typist. I very much appreciated the comment posted on March 9th by a fellow Asburian of mine (though I don’t know who “Jane” is) who corroborated my qualifications. I also appreciated her sincere honesty regarding her judgement of my “high school teaching” In other news, I am now working for Alston & Bird, a respectable law firm here in Atlanta as a legal assistant. Since the teaching doors are momentarily closed, I have taken it as a sign to venture back to my other love – law. I hope in the near future to continue knocking on the doors of education. If this doesn’t happen then I will instead go on to law school next fall. We shall see what happens!

  58. Francis Asbury says:

    I was present at Asbury College with Marquis Harris. I would like to begin by saying that Mr. Harris is intelligent, but he is among a high percentage of very intelligent students at Asbury, a very highly regarded center of higher learning. His intellectual aptitude is perhaps his greatest asset; however, our greatest gifts are often times our greatest enemy. This holds true with Mr. Harris. Some students and faculty viewed Mr. Harris of having a case of elitism that he loved to brandish whenever he deems necessary. In addition to his pretentious demeanor, he often played the infamous “race card”, causing racial tension where none initially existed. Let me add that he was very Machiavellian in his approach. He often argued whichever side of the argument that best served him.

    I do not wish to go into any more details that might cause Mr. Harris any embarrassment. I do wish to emphasize that his case is very, very special and a general conclusion should not be drawn on the basis of his lone experience. I promise that there is more here than meets the eye. Viewing the facts and statistics surrounding the overall placement of students of vast intelligence would better serve the formation of a conclusion on this topic.

    Also, meeting Mr. Harris would prove even more illuminating as to why he was not hired. Fortunately, everyone will have a chance to view Mr. Harris very soon. Mr. Harris will be featured as a model for a line of men’s make-up in the remainder of the year. Then you may judge for yourselves whether you would like Mr. Harris acting as a teacher and role model for your children and other future generations.

    If Mr. Harris happens to read this response, I suggest that he take my advice in the future. Do not allow your private situations to be used as a springboard for advocacy groups seeking to stir up emotional reactions for their cause. It compromises your reputation and the reputation of the institutions that you represent.

  59. Marquis Harris says:

    Wow! Talk about a response. I find it absolutely crude and inappropriate that someone would choose to use the name of a deceased individual as an alias to hide the blatantly hateful and negatively subjective opinion of myself. I can’t understand why this person is so unwilling to share their name. I would like to caution this individual that he or she is very dangerously tredding on illegal ground. It is one thing to have a negative opionion about someone based upon personal opinions. However, to brand that personal opinion as a backdrop for other’s perception (in the guise of fact) is just short of defamation and in this case (because it is a written word and available to the public) libel. This person’s statements intentionally misrepresents who I am as a person. On the contrary,if you were to ask the majority of the students, faculty members, administrators, and Board of Trustee members at Asbury, as well as the number of lawyers,judges, and children that I presently work with on a daily basis, you will find that their opinion of me is grossly different from what this student or faculty member (I have a very good idea of who this is if they are in fact faculty) alleges. I invite whomever is reading this to email the college President, Dr. Paul Radar, to give a more accurate depiction of myself. His analyis would be accurate, as he and I met every week on a regular basis. Based upon the wording and phrasing of the above paragraph, I am going to assume that this a faculty member after all (If I am wrong, then I will apologize, but I will find out). I do not take threats lightly and let me forewarn that if anything in the slightest bit besmirching is written or spoken of about me, I will take legal action. Everything I have spoken of in reference to my original document to the AJC is proven and accounted for – the newspaper did their own background check before even agreeing to print the article. Furthermore, several attorney and judge friends of mine reviewed the article as well before submission. They did not see anything compromising about the article. The “institution” is no where mentioned in the article. I would like to inquire of the author – is it the same white student body (out of approximately 1300 students, only 8 were African American, and 6 were in my class) that found me so pretensious, insuffurable, and Machiavellian race-card driven that when given three choices, elected me as their student body President? This author does not know me very well at all. If they did then they would also be aware of the fact that my surrogate family, the ones that I have been living with ever since I went into the foster care system and love more so than my own biological parents, are in fact white. In regards to my modeling, that has no bearing on my teaching abilities. There is nothing wrong or immoral (as implied by the author) with high fashion modeling. Anyone is free to view my pictures if they wish, there is absolutely nothing compromising about them. I am with a very reputable modeling and talent agency here in Atlanta and their work is also uncompromising (again, extreme caution to the author). The make-up line that the author is refering to is “Revlon”, they are in fact entertaining the idea of expanding their line to include men, specifically with concealor and foundation. Let me also add that the agency that I am represented by as well as employed by (I am one of their run-way instructors), has with them at least a dozen parents or so who see me on a weekly basis have nothing but positive things to say while viewing me interacting and “teaching” their children. On second thought, perhaps this is not written by a faculty member after all. He would not be so readily willing to compromise his teaching position by being so blatantly defaming. As before, I have given out my email address and will do so again – [email protected]. Anyone is more than free to email me if they would like specific details,or the email address to the college President at Asbury College. In the meantime,I will be investigating the authorship of this previous posting. If you are going to make such defaming remarks, why don’t you at least use your real name. What is more compromising to an institution than using the name of its founding father to mask your unwarranted, unfounded, and caluminiating remarks. One final remark. On a positive note, I have recently been hired by a school system in Macon, GA. Ths same high school that I graduated from. I will be teaching there in the fall, in their International Baccalaureate Program, the same program that I graduated from. That principal and faculty didn’t seem to think my modeling would have any negative reprocussions on my being an effective teacher, nor did they view me as pretentious. As for the principal of the offending high school, he is no longer employed, electing instead to take early retirement. I never had to open my mouth, it seems what goes around does indeed come back around.

  60. Marquis Harris says:

    Just a quick follow up. People are more than free to disagree with my article to the AJC – I welcome critiques. I have had numerous of disagreeable emails sent to me, yet they were tasteful. We live in a free society and I fully support free speech. In addition, if any one has been reading the posts, you will find that another former college colleague of mine posted a disagreeable email and that was indeed appropriate. This latest email, however, was not. Note to the author: so I am not subjectively biased in my analysis of your email, I am going to forward your response on to Dr. Paul Rader (the current Francis Asbury) You should be rather careful as to how you are choosing to depict the faculty and administration, and students of Asbury College. After all, this is a public forum, open to all who may wish to see, your personal feelings toward me should not be institutionalized by using Asbury’s name -as an alias or otherwise.

  61. Marquis Harris says:

    Caution to the above author (whomever they may be). First, why do you feel the need to use an alias and not your real name? Why use the name of the founding father of Asbury College to mask your apparent personal dislike of me. Second, while you personally are very much permitted to give your personal opinions about me, your comments in your post teeter dangerously close to libel. I would advise you in the future to leave out your perceived opinions of the faculty, administration, and student body of Asbury College in regards to their perception of me. I invite any reader of this post to email me if they have any specific questions about the calumniating comments made by “Francis Asbury”

  62. For anyone interested, there are other comments concerning this humorous situation at

  63. Marquis Harris says:

    Thank you very much for the tip “Jane” This is getting better and better. The more information I have the better!

  64. Not so Surprised Asburian says:

    Let this be the fourth time that yet another disgruntled classmate of Marquis’ has reluctantly written in response to his outrageous claim of social injustice. His most recent declairation reaks of his old habitual practices on campus for four long years of study, or perhaps more reminiscent of the quote from the Moscow Central Committee in 1943(socialist Marxist) “Members and front organizations must continually embarrass, discredit and degrade our critics. When obstructionists become too irritating, label them as fascist, or Nazi or anti-Semitic….The association will, after enough repetition, become “fact” in the public mind.” I merely quote this because I will not stand by and let a reputable school be discredited as discriminatory on the basis that a certain subject was not hired. Al Sharpton is notorious for committing this illogical falacy. Because this institution did not hire Marquis for the job does not constitute them as “racist.” I can, off the top of my head, name three, well qualified, white males who searched for jobs for over two years. Yet, not one of them charged racism. These three men were rejected by, not six, but by more than twenty seven employers. One must not become so pius to think that their past qualifications automatically prescribe them the best person for the job. After all, the entire Vanderbilt Empire was founded by a man with no education whatsoever. I am confounded that Marquis, though an extremely gifted and intelligent person, would threaten previous Asburians by “penalty of law” (this may not be known by everyone, but can be substantiated) for merely stating their grievances, which is granted them by the Constitution of the United States, the law of the land and same right that Marquis has engaged himself. The moral of the story is this, do not make unsubstantiated claims such as Marquis’ without expecting some resistence.

  65. Marquis,
    Though I find the bluntness of some of the comments against you distasteful, I agree with quite a few of the things they are saying. Are you going to threaten me with legal action for agreeing with them? Just for the record, did you know that threatening legal action, as you are, is a type of harassment? Think about the situation you are getting yourself into. Also, more importantly, as yourself: WWJD? Ye without sin cast the first stone.

  66. Marquis L. Harris says:


    Of course not, I read your very first posting and thought it was completely appropriate. As I said before there is a fine line between free speech and libel. I work at a law firm and trust me, I know what i am doing. All of my actions are legal and double checked. What I find to be appalling is that in way form or fashion did my article allude to my not getting hired because of my skin color and it seems the only ones (out of the thousands that have replied) who perceive it this way are Asburians – it was about intellect..period (I would invite you to re-read the article). I’m sorry to have to say but, Jesus has nothing to do with this discussion – that is quite evident in the postings by the Asburians. Their comments are defamatory and untrue and the investigation is still ongoing. Have a nice day.

  67. Marquis Harris says:

    For the record, I have saved in a database all of the responses from my article, both positive and negative and these most recent ones are the only ones that i am questioning.

  68. Francis Asbury I says:

    Mr. Harris,
    After reading your threats of legal action against Francis Asbury et alii who have commented in a way you disagree, I have decided to attempt to educate one so intelligent as yourself on the law regarding libel action and the internet.

    First of all, I would like to support Jane, by stating that she was very correct in stating that threatening legal action is a form of harassment. Mr Harris, for the record, if you have threatened legal action, then you may be culpable for your actions.

    Let us move onto understanding the defining of the term libel. It is the publication of a false statement, which injures one’s business or personal reputation. A standard plaintiff who sues for Libel must prove all of the above and be able to demonstrate some type of resulting damage. Feel free to state the hard body of evidence that proves that you have received personal damages?

    If you truly had done your research, you would realize that you do not have an actual case for libel. Understand that the statements made were personal opinion and statements of opinion are never considered libel, because an opinion can never be proven false. Even if the statements made were in fact more than personal opinions (which they are not), you would not be able to prove libel due to another issue.

    Due to your initial article was published and brought into the public arena; you are now considered a public figure. Public figures include those who are in a position to significantly influence the resolution of issues of public concern Check out Rosenblatt v. Baer. In this case, the court specifically defined public figures as those who fall into three categories: (1) Those who find themselves involved in matters of public interest by assuming a prominent role in society, (2) people who become involved in an issue in an attempt to influence its outcome, and (3) those who simply find themselves involuntarily in the public spotlight. I believe that you soundly meet at least two of these three criteria on this point alone. Even if your article had not been published, you would still be considered a public figure. According to past libel decisions involving the web, “anyone involved in action on the Internet is considered a limited public figure.”

    According to the late Associate Justice Lewis Powell, if someone states something false about a public figure, then the court typically insists the solution to be initially “self-help”, whereby we ourselves would post the truth, as long as we have a reasonable ability to do so. Unlike standard libel lawsuits, public figures will generally not succeed in a libel suit unless they are able to prove “actual malice or reckless disregard with clear and convincing proof.”

    The reason public figures have such a difficult time is because they themselves have access to substantial ability to communicate. For such people, if a falsehood about them has been printed somewhere, they have the ability to correct the falsehood and thus do not need succor from the law. And because of that, if someone on the Internet says something which someone else claims is false and damaging, then to prevail in court they have to prove not just “damage and falsehood, but also reckless disregard for the truth and a deliberate intent to cause harm.”

    With respect to the particular statement by me to which you object, if within a libel suit against me you were considered a private individual, then your claim that my statement is defamatory might conceivably be reasonable. I’m still not sure it would be, but it’s at least arguable. But because you would be categorized as a “limited purpose public figure” then you would have no case.
    Next I wish to address your claim that you were going to have your lawyers find out who was submitting the anonymous postings. In order for discovery in this case to take place, a court must approve it first. As you know this is a very time consuming and expensive action. After reading your threat of legal action, I decided to run this situation by my own legal counsel. He stated that any self-respecting lawyer would most certainly advise you not to attempt such actions because of the high risk that you would be laughed out of a court. According to him, the majority of judges who would issue a “John Doe discovery” would probably refuse to grant one due to the frustration felt towards you for flooding our already overloaded legal system with flagrantly inconsequential lawsuits. He suggested that I not give your threat a second thought. He also suggested that you are possibly falsely representing the Alston & Bird firm by stating that they are investigating the case. After reading your statements he concluded that you were probably trying to frighten the authors of the statements with which you disagree. He believes the best way to uncover the facts surrounding the reality of your claims is to copy all of your declarations, the dates in which they were submitted for public viewing, and have him send an inquiry to Alston & Bird, requesting verification of the validity of your proclamations. If you are merely using the most reputable name of Alston & Bird, then you might have stepped upon perilous ground. If this were the case, then it would place you in a very uncomfortable and possibly embarrassing situation with your current employer. Most law firms do not like to have their respectable name thrown around by any of their interns, for whatever reason, least of all by one only recently hired. I believe this will be my course of action unless you ask me very sweetly not to follow through on it. To conclude, I am very confident that my anonymity will remain quite safe.
    I would also like to remind you that very few libel cases ever go to trial, because as you well know, litigation is very expensive for both sides to pursue. The cases that do go to trial rarely reach the issue of truth or falsity. The very rare cases that are “successful” rarely result in any major reparations being made. For your benefit, I will site one of the most well-known “successful” libel cases to support my point. Suarez Corp. v. Meeks, Civil Action No. 267513 (Ct. of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County, Ohio). Meeks had written that Benjamin Suarez, the owner of Suarez Corp., was “infamous for his questionable direct marketing scams” and that “he (Suarez) has a mean streak”. The lawsuit was settled for the vast sum of $64. Very promising, isn’t it? I know you aren’t in it for the money, but I included it in order to suggest the level of importance of libel cases in our current legal system.
    For the record, I am not Francis Asbury II; so do not confuse our statements. In addition, let it be known that I did not act out of malice. When I wrote what I did, I thought it was true. (Which means that irrespective of what would happen in court, no libel actually did or does exist.)

    To prevail you’d have to demonstrate deliberate intent on my part to harm, and the only way you could attempt to do that would be to summon me to the stand and question me about my intent at the time I wrote it. Which would be possible, because in civil law there is no Constitutional protection against testifying against self. If I am not mistaken, I believe I would be classified as a hostile plaintiff’s witness. But I would state on the stand that I did not have malice when I wrote it, that I honestly believed it was true when I wrote it, and that I had no intent to harm. And my attorney would move for summary dismissal with prejudice, and it would be granted.

    The reason why the Court established the law this way was to make it so that people couldn’t use threats of libel action as a way of intimidating others and silencing them through fear. If libel law were too powerful, too broad, and too easily applied; then it would have a terrifically chilling effect on freedom of expression. The Court has found that intolerable, and libel law is thus very narrowly crafted to make it so that a plaintiff can only prevail in very clear cases, so that most people will know that they are not at risk of suit most of the time and will feel free to express themselves.
    In other words, the current jurisprudence in libel law is designed precisely to prevent people from succeeding in doing what you attempted to do in your posts, which was to make a threat of lawsuit as a way of attempting to coerce me into voluntarily restricting my use of my First Amendment rights of free expression. But that won’t work with me because I understand the applicable law and I know full well that you don’t have any case.
    So don’t bother making any further veiled threats of libel suits. I’m not even slightly impressed. If you feel the need to continue with that line, don’t bother me until you’ve talked to a lawyer and actually filed a suit in court. Then let me know and I’ll get a lawyer of my own and we’ll see what happens.
    But before you talk to an attorney, you might be interested to know that there has never been a successful libel lawsuit where someone online actually sued someone else online for what they said, in a situation similar to ours. There have only been a very small number of attempts, and none of them has ever resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff.
    And I have two additional defenses available to me under the applicable law that I won’t describe, and each of them would also be sufficient to prevail in the case. And unlike what I described above, they would also prevail even if you somehow convinced the court to classify you as a private individual.
    Under normal circumstances, in a situation like this, had you responded to me in a more cordial manner, then I would have been willing to post a correction if you informed me that I had made a mistake, simply as a matter of common courtesy. I have made such updates many times before, because I realize that I sometime say things that are a little more callous that I initially intended. However, because of your posting harassing threats of legal action, and your clear intent to trap me and discredit my views, you have forfeited any consideration or common courtesy, and I have no intention of publishing any apology or posting any retraction or correction.

  69. I’m not happy about my blog’s comments being used for a petty vendetta. I gather that one or more Asbury grads dislikes Marquis Harris. Fine. You have the right to do so, but your anonymous and vague accusations are not persuasive, nor are they relevant to the original story, which contained no allegation of “racism” by Marquis Harris.

    The comments aren’t libelous. They’re sophomoric. Grow up, people! Or carry on your feud elsewhere.

  70. Marquis Harris says:

    My sincere apologies to Joanne Jacobs, you are correct and I am truly tired of trying to defend myself.

  71. Francis Asbury says:

    Miss Jacobs,
    I also apologize for the situation. However, I wish to inform you that your blog has inspired me to create a blog for discussing this and similar topics. It will be open to anyone’s views on any topic. I will post the link soon.

  72. Marquis,
    I can’t believe that you said Jesus has nothing to do with the conversation going on here. Jesus has everything to do with the conversation. He is important in any and all situations. For you to make that statement really upsets me. Are you stating that Jesus has nothing to do with negative situations because hateful and sinful people conceived them? Taken to its logical end, one must conclude that Jesus’ crucifixion had nothing to do with Jesus. How ironic. Perhaps I am wrong and my feeble mind is incapable of understand such things. After all, I am not as intelligent as you. I didn’t have a 3.75 on my cumulative GPA. Please help me understand what you meant because I obviously can’t understand it on my own.

  73. I echo Joanne’s sentiments.

  74. I wish to say a couple of things. First, I am white. Second, I know Marquis Harris personally and have known him for over 10 years. I am not going to get into the whole libel issue, it is ridiculous and I agree exactly with what Ms. Jacobs stated. However, I do take personal offense to the negative comments that have been posted about Marquis. You people obviously do not know him as you claim to. All the hate mail in the world is not going to convince any sane or rational person to believe what you have stated about him. I am also fully aware of the horrible incident that occurred his sophomore year and can’t believe that anyone would accuse and of the black students of sending the hate mail to themselves, let alone Marquis. That was a very painful and scary experience for him and all of those that know and love him. How dare your insensitivity. I also told Marquis that he should have never have gone to that school and that after the incident he should have left – he chose to stay. I am reading nothing but jealous resentment from these Asbury posters. Marquis, if you are reading this – I encourage you to quit indulging and stop trying to defend yourself, you don’t need to. Don’t get Alston & Bird involved, you don’t need to. I know of the calibor of the firm and if that thought ill of you, you’d better believe that you would not have been hired. Don’t jeopardize your job because of hateful people – stay focused on your goals and worry only about those who matter.

  75. Walter Stephens says:

    To the poster who is planning on starting his own blog: It would be a shame and a waste if you decided because of your personal dislike of Mr. Harris you were going to create a hate blog dedicated to him. You disagree with his views, fine, but stick to the views, and stop with the personal attacks. By the way, I am also white and read Mr. Harris’ AJC op-ed piece, I agree with Ms. Jacobs. While there may very well be people who upon reading the article infer that he did not get hired because of his color, that is their inferences and not Mr. Harris’. I gather from the comments posted by all parties that Asbury is supposedly a “Christian” school? What exactly are they teaching you there? How to write nasty posts about other people because you dislike them and/or thier views? It is people like you that make me wary about the whole Christian thing.

  76. This comment thread is closed.

  77. closed!

  78. Hello everyone! I just wanted to inform you all that the discussion about Marquis shall continue from another site. It is
    Please join us in the following weeks as we wander through the maze of issues concerning our main topics. Our guest of honor is Mr. Marquis Lamont Harris himself, the man who started it all. I’m not certain that he will grace us with his presence; however, I hope he’s not one to turn down a challenge. Miss Jacobs, you also are welcome to come and submit your comments. The first topic surrounds freedom of speech.


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