Max & Me: The Abuse of Power in Florida Community Colleges MAX & ME: The Abuse of Power in Florida Community Colleges
Part I

    I came to Brevard County with 15 years of professional experience in Ohio and Florida secondary schools and colleges. The five years prior to my moving to Brevard County I taught at Florida State University's on-campus demonstration school, and in FSU's Arts and Sciences department. I was hired as Coordinator for Social Studies for Brevard County Schools in 1967, just before Dr. B. Frank Brown was appointed superintendent of Brevard's schools.

    Not long after my arrival, a reorganization split the county into three geographic areas. The subject-matter supervisory positions were abolished, and most of my peers moved to administrative positions in other counties or to Florida's Department of Education in Tallahassee. I was asked to stay on as Director of Instruction for Brevard's North Area schools.

    A few months into the job I became convinced that the Area Superintendents' offices in general, and my middle-level management position in particular, had little impact on the quality of education offered Brevard's students. I mostly shuffled paper between the schools and the county office, and vice-versa. When, in 1969, an interesting alternative presented itself, saying yes was easy. I was approached by editors from the publisher Prentice-Hall, Inc., and asked to help them salvage an elementary school-level social science textbook series. They had a great deal of money invested in the project, and at grade level three the authors had run out of ideas. They offered to match my salary with royalty advances if I'd take a leave of absence and write full-time.

    It was a good deal. I was never actually employed by Prentice-Hall, but they were generous with royalty advances and pushed consulting business my way from other companies they owned. I terminated my leave of absence from the Brevard County school system and resigned. Over the next seven years I authored, with my brother Howard, an American History textbook, a world cultures textbook, Florida's social studies guide, and much other educational material.

    Prentice-Hall also signed me to co-author a senior high school social studies series with Alvin Toffler. Toffler's Future Shock had just made the best seller list, and Prentice-Hall officials thought he and I would make a good team. His speaking engagements and my writing and consulting left time only for a few weekend meetings at his homes in Connecticut and Manhattan, and we never actually produced anything together, but it was fun, and a rich source of ideas.

    In the mid-1970's, American education was swept by an ultra-traditional "back to basics" movement. My work certainly wasn't traditional in outward appearance, demand for the kind of work I was interested in doing declined, and I wanted to teach full-time again. I also wanted to stay near my children, build a house on the Indian River, and have more time to travel. Brevard Community College, less than 10 minutes away, was the most reasonable option. Then-BCC Liberal Arts Division Chair Robert Aitken had always been enthusiastic about my work as an adjunct. He offered me the position of Coordinator of Human Services Technology at the College, and I began work in the fall of 1977.

    The Human Services Technology program was in disarray, and putting it in some sort of order occupied me for two or three years. Aitken had confidence in me, and I was left alone to set up procedures for selecting students, designing the instructional program, and working with local social service agency heads to place students in jobs. I liked to innovate, and the program offered ample opportunities.

    It was my compulsion to try out new ideas that, little by little, raised my profile with the administration. As possibilities occurred to me, I'd submit proposals. When, days or weeks later, there had been no administrative response, I'd follow up with a request for a status report. I just couldn't accept Division Chair Aitken's insistence that new ideas--at least someone else's new ideas--weren't viewed positively by College President Maxwell King. It took me a long time (too long for my own good) to understand that proposals for change were interpreted as criticisms of the status quo, and criticism of the status quo was unacceptable. By the time I learned that Aitken was right, I was marked as a troublemaker. Although I'd never before belonged to a faculty union, the possibility that I might need legal protection led me to join.

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