Oregon teacher fired after veering from evolution textbook.

| 212 Comments

A news story today from Oregon (story here) is headlined “Oregon teacher fired after veering from evolution textbook.”

The story says, in part:

During his eight days as a part-time biology teacher at Sisters High School, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

That was enough for the Sisters School Board, which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution. …

Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included the supplemental material to teach students about bias in sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking. “Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry,” said Helphinstine, who has a master’s degree in science from Oregon State. “My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking.”

Well good for him - his plan worked: the students, parents and school Board clearly saw his bias, and they used their critical thinking skills to conclude that his teaching was completely inappropriate.

“I think his performance was not just a little bit over the line,” board member Jeff Smith said. “It was a severe contradiction of what we trust teachers to do in our classrooms.”

This is the kind of critical thinking we need more of: thinking which sees the “critical thinking” ploy of the creationists as the dishonest ruse that it is. Science is based on critical thinking, and it is a travesty that the creationists have co-opted this term to support their radical skepticism about the findings of mainstream science.

212 Comments

Someone should call the Kearny, NJ school board and clue them in.

Evolution has been linked to Planned Parenthood?

Ye Gods! Is there no end to the evil?

How long until the Thomas Moore Law Center for wayward fundies comes to the rescue? Let’s hope soon, I’d love to see them humiliated in court again.

He was lying about the Holocaust; that alone should have got him fired.

Cue the “persecuted little lambs of God” reaction in five…four…

Helphinstine said he did not teach the idea that God created the world. “I never taught creationism,” he said. “I know what it is, and I went out of my way not to teach it.”

Translation: He only read the first half of the DI’s “memo”.

It’s a bit of a crap article. It doesn’t give any real indication of what the objectionable material was. Presumably we’re talking Genesis and/or some teleological anthropocentric stuff, but it would be nice to know, given that it’s the whole reason for the story in the first place.

Is this a new tactic of the IDationists - getting substitute teachers to do their dirty work?

Frankly, Ginger, I think the PowerPoint presentation they mentioned was sufficient.

I wonder when the ACLJ will get involved to defend Helphinstine’s violation of the First Amendment. That’s the whole point of their organization, after all.

“He was lying about the Holocaust; that alone should have got him fired”

Where did you read that?

Chris

I got it from the first paragraph:

…and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

The guy’s a liar and a scapegoater, peddling the standard “blame evolution for everything we think is immoral” line.

Tukla,

What is the ACLJ? Did you mean ACLU or are you making some other reference?

Teachers rarely get fired for one instance of misconduct. I suspect that this wasn’t the only time the teacher violated ethics or regulations.

It’s true that the article is lacking in details of what he actually taught.

It’s also true that the article is obviously written with a pro-creationist bias. Another little missing detail - he as a master’s degree in “science”. Google reveals that his master’s is probably in “Science Education”. This isn’t the first creationist to literally get himself an education degree for the specific purpose of trying to lie to students about science.

My guess is that the details are probably more offensive than the glossed over summary.

At any rate, anyone who “draws a connection between evolution and Nazi Germany” or who uses Biblical references in a science class has massively crossed the line, unless otherwise indicated.

By the way, firing is hardly a harsh punishment. He spent eight days violating the civil rights of a classroom full of students. He’s lucky not be be sued.

For the most part, news agencies have simply been reprinting the article posted here. I found a conservative spin on this one on a blog though:

http://sopebocks.blogspot.com/

The Sope-Bocks: First, I wonder if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Rahm would have had the same reaction if their children were being given references to homosexuality or pagan rituals. Somehow, I seriously doubt it. This story just goes to show the extreme bias against Christian values. It also shows the lengths some people will go to in order NOT to challenge the religion of evolution. I applaud Mr. Helphinstine for pushing the students to think critically about what they are being indoctrinated with in public schools. His courage to challenge the system with the truth is admirable. Unfortunately, teaching anything other than extreme liberal thought will be a death-nail to your career in Oregon. Sad, but true.

Nevermind my previous comment, he was a part-time teacher.

he Sope-Bocks: First, I wonder if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Rahm would have had the same reaction if their children were being given references to homosexuality or pagan rituals. Somehow, I seriously doubt it. This story just goes to show the extreme bias against Christian values. It also shows the lengths some people will go to in order NOT to challenge the religion of evolution.

Not very original. Remember that the class was about evolution, not the religion of evolution, not pagan rituals or homosexuality. It was simply a blatant attempt to teach Christian religion in a science curriculum under the excuse of ‘teach the controversy’ or ‘enable critical thinking’ when in fact it serves exactly the opposite purpose. ID continues to inflict damage to our children’s education. Do they care?

First, I wonder if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Rahm would have had the same reaction if their children were being given references to homosexuality or pagan rituals. Somehow, I seriously doubt it…

Here we see the phony-crybaby-victim mindset laid bare. Do they really believe there would be no adverse reaction to a substitute teacher trying to inject Pagan beliefs into a science class? Those “Christian” crybabies would be leading the charge against such a teacher, and they know it. Which is just one reason why Pagans don’t even try to pull this kind of crap. We’re too honest to pull such a scam, and too smart to think it would work.

“First, I wonder if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Rahm would have had the same reaction if their children were being given references to homosexuality or pagan rituals. Somehow, I seriously doubt it.”

What a load of bull. Some people will say anything. Teaching lies about science to promote “paganism” (relax, Wiccans, I know you would never do it, I’m talking hypothetically) would certainly get a teacher fired even faster than teaching lies about science to promote “Christianity”.

Overwhelmingly the most likely person to teach lies about science as a commentary on homosexuality would be, of course, a right wing ideologue posing as a “Christian” and promoting homophobia. However, if a well-meaning person distorted or lied about science in a misguided effort to argue against homophobia (which wouldn’t really make sense, since there’s no need to lie to do that…), that, too, would be a firing offense.

Any pro-science poster here would support the firing of any teacher who deliberately distorted science and tried to use the science class as a pulpit to violate the rights of captive students by pushing political or “religious” propaganda. No matter what the underlying nature of their beliefs.

It’s no coincidence that authoritarian right wing ideologues are the ones who, in practice, are most likely to behave this way, but if a misguided person from some other movement did the same thing, they’d be equally wrong.

Chip, the ACLJ is the American Center for Justice and Liberty, a group founded on the bizarre notion that Christians are a persecuted majority in the US. The ACLU is their mortal enemy.

“Kris Helphinstine: he has a Master’s Degree – in Science!

(http://www.drscience.com/)

“Kris Helphinstine: he has a Master’s Degree – in Science!

(http://www.drscience.com/)

Here’s an article from the local newspaper out there… basically to sum up he lifted text directly from AiG. And that most of the test on the material was apparently on ID and AiG materials.

Very interesting, Ben, thanks for the link.

From the Nugget News (linked above):

Helphinstine defended his usage of source material from the “Answers in Genesis” Web site telling The Nugget that some of the information presented is “good scientific fact.”

I’m just so proud to be from the Northwest now. I think I’m tearing up. I’m feeling veclempt. I’ll give you a topic. Discuss: Literal Creationist critical thinking: Neither critical nor…

A quick google confirms that his Master of Science is in Science Education.

Oregon State commencement; June 2005, pg 24, Florence.

Me daughter was the victim of Helphinstine’s “light” On mermaids and unicorns it shines real bright. On science’s truth it shines not at all, Casting instead its darkly pall.

Yo ho ho, he taught ID, Leaving me daughter all at sea!

He said: “Genesis has it thus — Parrot these verses to get A+. And, class, you’ll grasp that what comes next Ain’t a part of the sec’lar text!”

Yo ho ho, he taught ID Leaving me daughter all at sea.

Board to Helphinstine — “Not so fast, ID’s vacuity’s wide and vast!” If ye can’t teach science, teach not at all And save young minds from y’er darkly pall.

Yo ho ho, he’s off to sea! And me daughter’s no longer taught ID!

Me song has a lesson fer all to see — “Beware the pious and scienc-y!” Therein are lies and impiety, Believe them not if yer mind be free.

A quick google confirms that his Master of Science is in Science Education.

Oregon State commencement; June 2005, pg 24, Florence.

How did someone as obviously unqualified as Helphinstine manage to recently get a Masters of Science Education? Oregon State has some explaining to do.

Thanks again Ben; the Nugget has the better of the stories.

8 days! This guy really went for it. I wonder if he’s ever had a science teaching job before this. Hopefully, this will be his last. Anyway, this was so gross that I don’t see how any lawyer could save his butt. I certainly hope this little district (1300 students) doesn’t get stuck with expensive legal bills.

This “critical thinking” scam isn’t new but I don’t remember who started it. Does anyone recall? I was hoping someone on PT would have the answer.

I dropped off a comment at the Nugget and also sent a congratulatory e-mail to Superintendent Thonstad ([Enable javascript to see this email address.]). The little town of Sisters (1500) jumped on the problem and solved it the right way. They deserve some credit!

It’s also true that the article is obviously written with a pro-creationist bias. Another little missing detail - he as a master’s degree in “science”. Google reveals that his master’s is probably in “Science Education”. This isn’t the first creationist to literally get himself an education degree for the specific purpose of trying to lie to students about science.

several people picked up on the oddity of listing a Master’s degree in “science”. I know for a fact that OSU does not offer a master’s degree in “science”.

heck, I can’t even think of any serious colleges that offer an undergraduate degree in “science” for that matter.

However, it would be bad enough if he managed a masters in science education from OSU.

if so, my guess would be he entered the PhD program in science education, and they booted him as soon as it was clear what his “mission” really was, and thus he ended up with a masters (makes the university look better than simply booting him with nothing).

YUM YUM WROTE NONSENSE.

CREATIONISTS IN OREGON DID NOT SUCCEED IN CRUSHING THE TRUTH BY BEING UNCOMPROMISING, IGNORANT AND ARROGANT. AMERICAN CREATIONISTS WILL NEVER SUCCEED IN EXTERMINATING SCIENCE EVEN IF THEY ESTABLISH A TOTAL CREATIONIST STATE UNDER THEIR OWN DEAR LEADER KEN HAM!

THERE THAT FIXES IT.

Jack,

This two year old thread has become infested with trolls. Time to close the thread.

yum install Jesus said:

MACROEVOLUTIONISTS IN OREGON SUCCEEDED IN CRUSHING THE CAREER OF AN UNCOMPROMISING CHRISTIAN … DARED SPEAK TRUTH TO MACROEVOLUTIONIST POWER!

No, teaching religion instead of science, as science, in a science class, in a public school, where he knew full well that he wasn’t supposed to proselytize, and then being duplicitous and lying about, it crushed the career of a bad biology teacher.

There. Fixed it for you.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on March 20, 2007 7:39 AM.

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