Alfie thinks he has a right to be heard at taxpayer's expense.
Alfie Kohn Settles SuitThis could be a precedent for a new get-rich-quick scheme. Demand an audience at taxpayer's expense. If denied, claim huge damages.
By The Associated Press
The state Department of Education acknowledged Monday it violated the free speech rights of a standardized test critic and agreed to pay him $187,000 to settle his lawsuit over being dumped as a speaker at a state-run conference.
Alfie Kohn, a former teacher who lectures widely, was asked to discuss his views on standardized tests, including the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Systems test, at a 2001 conference on public schooling in the state's western region.
Kohn said state education officials, after learning he planned to focus on his opposition to the MCAS, forced local organizers to cancel his speech after threatening to withdraw $28,000 in state funding. His lawsuit alleged that state officials violated his rights and kept others from hearing his views.
In a statement Monday, the education department acknowledged it had violated Kohn's First Amendment rights [Emphasis added]. In a letter written as part of the settlement, the department said its position "is that vigorous debate about education issues is healthy and welcome."
The suit was filed by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Kohn, a school principal, a counselor and a parent. In the settlement, Kohn will receive $7,500 and his attorneys will get $179,500, the ACLU said.
My understanding of the 1st amendment is that the state cannot deny your right to free speech (except for yelling fire in the wrong places, etc.), but you have no right to an audience. This case is a scandal. Shame on the education department for squandering public funds.