Freshwater Termination Resolution

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Update at the bottom of the post starring Geraldo Rivera!

In a post just below PvM gave the background to the Freshwater case in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The 5-member District Board of Education met this afternoon and after a 3.5 hour executive session, voted unanimously to initiate termination proceedings against Freshwater. Those proceedings start with a copy of the resolution being provided to Freshwater via registered mail. On receipt of the notification, Freshwater has 10 days to request a hearing before the board or a referee. If he elects to not request the hearing, the Board will consider the termination at its July meeting. If he does request it, Board action will be delayed until a hearing has been held.

The Board’s resolution cited four basic grounds for its resolution:

1. Freshwater burned crosses in students’ arms using a high voltage, high frequency leak detection device, ignoring the manufacturer’s safety instructions associated with the device.

2. Freshwater taught material on thermodynamics, the Big Bang, the age of the earth, and the periodic table that is not in the approved curriculum or American Content Standards. Mr. Freshwater also taught ID and creationism in contravention of the curriculum and the First Amendment to the Constitution. He did so in direct contradiction of school board policy and administrative instructions. The resolution noted that Freshwater’s 2003 request to teach those materials had been denied by the board, so subsequently teaching them was insubordination.

3. In monitoring the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Freshwater exceeded his monitoring role by conducting prayers, recommending speakers, and generally taking a directive role rather than a monitoring role.

4. Mr. Freshwater did not remove all religious materials from his classroom as instructed by school administrators and in fact brought additional materials in to “make a point.”

The resolution was not immediately available in hard copy or electronic form, but should be available later this evening or tomorrow.

While the Board was in executive session I spent some time talking with several of Freshwater’s former students. They spouted the very worst of creationist crap – moon dust, the recession of the moon, SLoT, the Lady Hope fable, and so on – stuff that’s even on AIG’s list of “Arguments Creationists Shouldn’t Use.” One of them even quoted Kent Hovind to me! When I mentioned that Hovind is in jail for tax evasion, they denied it, saying it was because he preached the Bible. It was discouraging and angering to hear their absolute close-minded parroting of the pure crap generated by Freshwater, Hovind, and Ham. Those kids are genuinely doomed to a life of intellectual sterility and it is a terrible terrible waste.

I also spoke with one of Freshwater’s adult supporters. The No True Scotsman fallacy was alive and well in that conversation. There was an enlightening moment when I recommended that he read Francis Collins’ The Language of God to get an idea of how an evangelical Christian who is a scientist tries to deal with the conflict. The man asked if Collins accepts Genesis. I replied that Collins is an evangelical Christian, but that he doesn’t read Genesis literally and believes that evolution is the means by which God created the diversity of biological life. The man then refused to consider reading it, saying “I don’t need to look at beliefs I don’t agree with.” That level of willful ignorance pretty much says it all.

From the composition and size of the audience, and from comments on local web boards and talking with people I know, it appears that Freshwater has pretty much isolated himself from all except the hard core fundamentalists. They are talking about starting a petition to recall the school board. That will go exactly nowhere – Freshwater has sufficiently alienated less extreme Christians to the point that they want nothing to do with his cause. In April Freshwater threatened to bring a suit against the BOE based on “viewpoint discrimination,” the Disco ‘Tute’s latest legal strategy. I restrained myself from recommending that he seek the help of the Thomas More Law Center, too. :)

====================

Update June 22

The Freshwater affair has received wide news coverage, with the AP story picked up in venues as widely separated as Australlia and Norway. However, it reached the pinnacle (or is that nadir?) of news coverage when Geraldo At Large, Geraldo Rivera’s news and commentary program on Fox. did a piece on it. “Coach” Dave Daubenmire of Pass The Salt Ministries and MinuteMen United, Freshwater’s friend and spokesman, was on Geraldo!

Unfortunately for Coach Dave, Rivera relentlessly hammered on Daubenmire for the cross burned on students’ arms, repeatedly showing the photo that’s been circulating on the web and in news media. In the face of that hammering Daubenmire did not come off well.

Most interesting from my perspective were two claims that Daubenmire made. First he argued that this was but another step in the “purging of Christianity from the classroom.” Just another battle in the war on Christianity, I guess.

More interesting was a new defense that Daubenmire tried out. He claimed that in 2003 Freshwater “began to teach what was then the state standards to teach the controversy of evolution. And unfortunately he made the wrong people mad, and some of them have laid in the weeds for about five years to try to get back at …”. Geraldo interrupted Daubenmire, saying “Dave, Dave. I appreciate friendship, buddy, and I appreciate faith. But when you mess with a student physically like that you get fired, I don’t care what your religion is.”

Aside from the fact that this is a new defense apparently devised in the last week or so, Daubenmire is ignoring a couple of facts. First, it was in 2003 that Freshwater was explicitly denied permission to use the Disco ‘Tute’s approach and materials (Wells’ crap science). Second, the state standard in question (actually, it was an “indicator,” not a standard) was not to “teach the controversy,” it was a “critical analysis of evolution” indicator. And it was not for 8th grade science but for 10th grade biology. It read

23. Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. (The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.

Moreover, it was deleted from the state standards and indicators in February 2006, but Freshwater continued to teach his idiosyncratic crap science through 2008.

So Daubenmire is purely making it up as he goes along. If I were Freshwater’s attorney I’d put a muzzle on Daubenmire. (Or as wonderin noted below, “Doobenmire.:)

3 TrackBacks

A peek above our garters to Richard B. Hoppe, over at The Panda’s Thumb for this. Seems some psycho fundy named John Freshwater was “teaching” some interesting things in his public school classroom in Mt. Vernon, OH. Today, the scho... Read More

The science-blogosphere has been following the story of John Freshwater, a Mount Vernon public school teacher, for some time. The man is clearly off his rocker. He burned a cross into the arms of one his students. In class. And in addition to a hos... Read More

Americans have a long history of civil disobedience: when the law suppresses the immutable freedoms of society, we revolt in the name of all of our citizens. Unfortunately, fundamentalist Christians have a similar history, but geared towards a slight... Read More

117 Comments

I would have thought that intentionally burning a student would be grounds enough for termination, and I don’t understand why it took so long. Freshwater never denied that he burned the student and whether it was an X, Y, Z or cross would not be the issue.

What a vicious, shitty teacher, and a prime example of everything that makes the typical Xian rightfully the object of disgust by any decent human being.

People like these have every right to be absolute assholes, but we have every right to remove them from the classrooms when they show contempt for everything but their own twisted obsessions.

It is REALLY a drag to live in a time when the opposition is so unworthy of the least respect, when they are simply evil and/or crazy.

There is probably some way to bring criminal charges against Freshwater, and maybe even some way to select a jury based on their reactions to the Hovind-parroting he drilled into his suckers, since they were required by law to become obvious victims. I truly believe he deserves life without parole.

Termination is probably temporary. He will probably leverage it into Big Bux auctioning himself off to the highest bidder in Louisiana. Still, due process must be respected. We can’t place ourselves into the same category as those who assassinate abortion doctors.

While the Board was in executive session I spent some time talking with several of Freshwater’s former students. They spouted the very worst of creationist crap – moon dust, the recession of the moon, SLoT, the Lady Hope fable, and so on – stuff that’s even on AIG’s list of “Arguments Creationists Shouldn’t Use.” One of them even quoted Kent Hovind to me! When I mentioned that Hovind is in jail for tax evasion, they denied it, saying it was because he preached the Bible. It was discouraging and angering to hear their absolute close-minded parroting of the pure crap generated by Freshwater, Hovind, and Ham. Those kids are genuinely doomed to a life of intellectual sterility and it is a terrible terrible waste.

While I agree with you, I also think that it’s likely (and very sad) that these students and their parents think that these students have been well served by Freshwater’s child abuse.

Whether or not these students can recover from this will depend on their further education. It would be interesting to follow up on these students in the years to come. Will they remain secure in their ignorance? Will they gradually realize that they have, in fact, been lied to by Freshwater but retain their faith (as I think that PvM and others such as Glenn Morton have said)? Or will they be so disillusioned that they give up their faith completely, as (I recall dimly) several PT posters have said?

Now that Freshwater’s burning of a student’s arm is officially on the public record - and in the local media - when are the Mt. Vernon police going to fulfill their sworn duty and arrest the perpetrator?

Or are they going to continue to pull a Pelosi?

“Or are they going to continue to pull a Pelosi?”

WTF?

Joel said:

“Or are they going to continue to pull a Pelosi?”

WTF?

A bit off topic but Pelosi caved in and abandoned efforts to uphold the constitution by allowing the illegal wiretapping to continue and provide some protection to telecom companies who were accomplices in these violations of the US constitution.

Joel said:

“Or are they going to continue to pull a Pelosi?”

WTF?

PvM’s description is in the right neighborhood, but not exactly what I was attempting to imply.

Given clear evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, Speaker of the House Pelosi has refused to even consider performing her explicit duty under the Constitution to begin impeachment proceedings, but has acted to suppress efforts at same.

At least the Mt. Vernon police have not provided large sums of taxpayer funding & illegal privileges to the criminal they continue to allow to remain at large within their jurisdiction.

One June 5th, William Dembski wrote on his blog

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s signing of a transgender anti-discrimination bill points up the lunacy that ensues in a world without design (see here).

Shall we take it that burning students with crosses points to the lunacy that ensues in a world WITH design? Using pure and simple Dembski logic, that is.

Poor Bill, yes, he has abandoned much of any hope that ID can become a scientifically relevant contributor. Now, it’s back to his true love, whining about how the world is falling apart because it is extending rights to those who have long deserved them.

Hawks said:

One June 5th, William Dembski wrote on his blog

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s signing of a transgender anti-discrimination bill points up the lunacy that ensues in a world without design (see here).

Shall we take it that burning students with crosses points to the lunacy that ensues in a world WITH design? Using pure and simple Dembski logic, that is.

Given clear evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, Speaker of the House Pelosi has refused to even consider performing her explicit duty under the Constitution to begin impeachment proceedings, but has acted to suppress efforts at same.

Oh yes, that too.. shudder…

Interesting, they arguments presented by Freshwater and his attorney amounted to “I have had this Bible on my desk for 21 years” and “I was taught how to use the device to burn crosses on the forearms of students by another teacher”.

Somehow that excuses all this?

According to the board resolution to terminate Freshwater’s employment,

“Freshwater taught material on thermodynamics, the Big Bang, the age of the earth, and the periodic table that is not in the approved curriculum or American Content Standards.”

We are familiar with creationist denial of the facts of biology and geology, and I have come across creationist attempts to rewrite cosmology by saying that the speed of light has changed over time or that photons get tired on their journey, but thermodynamics and the periodic table?

What next? A four cornered earth? Pi equal to three?

Paul Braterman said:

According to the board resolution to terminate Freshwater’s employment,

“Freshwater taught material on thermodynamics, the Big Bang, the age of the earth, and the periodic table that is not in the approved curriculum or American Content Standards.”

Blah, blah, blah. What happened to freedom of religion? Why is it somehow illegal to teach things the high priesthood of evolutionism has deemed to be heresies? Christians are taxpayers too and our voice deserves a place in anything called “American Content Standards!”

We are familiar with creationist denial of the facts of biology and geology, and I have come across creationist attempts to rewrite cosmology by saying that the speed of light has changed over time or that photons get tired on their journey, but thermodynamics and the periodic table?

What next? A four cornered earth? Pi equal to three?

There are some evolutionists who will admit to a four-cornered earth. Check out this site to read all about it. Evolutionists who arrogantly deny the truth of God’s Word are often embarrassed when one of their own finds evidence confirming it!

Bubba Von Grubba said:

There are some evolutionists who will admit to a four-cornered earth. Check out this site to read all about it. Evolutionists who arrogantly deny the truth of God’s Word are often embarrassed when one of their own finds evidence confirming it!

“It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are, for there are four zones of the world and four principal winds.” (Irenaeus)

I’m sorry, Bubba (how appropriate if you’re not a Poe), I wasn’t aware that somebody was stopping you from praticing your religion. Did the Evilutionists storm your home or your church when they took away your Bible? You really should contact the ACLU because they’ll defend your right to practice religion at home or church or anywhere it doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause. Now, then, if you want your brand of religion foisted upon other peoples’ children in publicly funded schools you’re screwed. Sorry ‘bout that. But, again, you can teach your religion as “scientific fact” in your home or in your church which is, oddly enough, basically funded by everybody else since it’s tax-exempt. Yes, Evilutionists are picking up the tab for you. Doesn’t that make you smile?

Not that I’m in the habit of giving advice to the DI or other places, but you’d have to be a complete moron to try and make this guy your martyr poster child. You lose at least half of the people who might be sympathetic as soon as you mention burning the cross on the kids arm. On the other hand it does point out a serious aversion that districts have in regards to removing teachers that are not up to par.

Bubba Von Grubba said:

There are some evolutionists who will admit to a four-cornered earth. Check out this site to read all about it. Evolutionists who arrogantly deny the truth of God’s Word are often embarrassed when one of their own finds evidence confirming it!

If you are unable to identify profound mental illness (or parody, I’m not sure which) when you see it, then I don’t think we should trust your judgment on anything else you have to say here.

PvM Wrote:

Interesting, they arguments presented by Freshwater and his attorney amounted to “I have had this Bible on my desk for 21 years” and “I was taught how to use the device to burn crosses on the forearms of students by another teacher”.

Somehow that excuses all this?

Sure. He only uses electronic devises because the Bible commands him to do so. ;-)

JGB Wrote:

Not that I’m in the habit of giving advice to the DI or other places, but you’d have to be a complete moron to try and make this guy your martyr poster child.

I doubt that the DI will make him a martyr, and even expect that they will make some tepid statements disapproving his actions. But I also expect the DI to troll the web for any statements associating him with them and spin it as ignorance and/or misrepresentation of the DI by “Darwinists.”

What was the point the teacher was making by burning a cross on a kid’s arm anyway?

Heat can burn skin and scar it with enough exposure but everyone already knows that.

What is next, a demonstration that sharp edged metal blades can cut flesh?

Does anyone know what Freshwater was teaching about the periodic table? I’ve been trying to get info about this but had no success.

Joel | June 20, 2008 9:01 PM | Reply “Or are they going to continue to pull a Pelosi?”

WTF?

“Pull a Pelosi” means to abrogate your legal responsibility to enforce the law and defend the Constitution. There should be no doubt in the minds of all Americans that the Executive Branch has committed dozens, if not scores, of crimes and Constitutional Violations. Rather than throw the bum via the Impeachment Process, Pelosi has steadfastly refused to exercise her Constitutional duty.

Bubba Von Grubba said:

Paul Braterman said:

According to the board resolution to terminate Freshwater’s employment,

“Freshwater taught material on thermodynamics, the Big Bang, the age of the earth, and the periodic table that is not in the approved curriculum or American Content Standards.”

Blah, blah, blah. What happened to freedom of religion? Why is it somehow illegal to teach things the high priesthood of evolutionism has deemed to be heresies? Christians are taxpayers too and our voice deserves a place in anything called “American Content Standards!”

We are familiar with creationist denial of the facts of biology and geology, and I have come across creationist attempts to rewrite cosmology by saying that the speed of light has changed over time or that photons get tired on their journey, but thermodynamics and the periodic table?

What next? A four cornered earth? Pi equal to three?

There are some evolutionists who will admit to a four-cornered earth. Check out this site to read all about it. Evolutionists who arrogantly deny the truth of God’s Word are often embarrassed when one of their own finds evidence confirming it!

This guy is a parody, right?

This guy is a parody, right?

Someone who maintains that the earth is flat and square must be. Everyone knows the earth is shaped like a frisbee :>).

Hot news for Freshwater fans: according to Pass the Salt Ministries -

Coach Dave has been contacted by, and has agreed to appear on The Geraldo Rivera show on Fox News Saturday night at 10:00 EST. The producers of the show contacted Coach and invited him on the show to defend his friend John Freshwater in the much publicized events in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The producers of the show questioned why it was so hard to find someone who would defend John and Coach Dave jumped at the chance to help clear Mr. Freshwater’s name.

The announcement is signed by “Coach Dave Daubenmire” - is there a name for the habit of describing one’s self in third person?

Joshua Zelinsky said: Does anyone know what Freshwater was teaching about the periodic table? I’ve been trying to get info about this but had no success.

That’s easy: The intelligent design creationists’ / Answers In Genesis version of the Periodic Table has four elements:

Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

Paul Braterman and Joshua - they bring up the periodic table as part of the “anthropic principal”, the universe is structured in a way that makes human life possible. Gravity, the elements present, the distance we are from the sun, temperature on Earth, all the physical constants of nature had to be very precise for life to occur as we know it. Their statement is it could not have happened by chance all at once.

The elements on the periodic table have their properties by “design”, to form more complex designed compounds, etc. That is probably where Freshwater was going with the periodic table. They don’t consider the more scientific, we are suited to be in this universe, and it didn’t happen in a flash, but took billions of years for it all to occur.

Pierce R. Butler said:

Hot news for Freshwater fans: according to Pass the Salt Ministries…

I’ll bet you don’t see “freshwater” and “salt” as allies very often ;)

Seriously…for those of us who aren’t able to get US TV (or for those who can’t stomach Geraldo) it’d be helpful if someone who watches Geraldo tonight to post a summary of how Coach Dave manages to spin this.

raven said:

Everyone knows the earth is shaped like a frisbee :>).

“And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.”

And what pray tell do you think is meant by ‘theory’?

Harrison said:

JJ

My oh, my, we are touchy aren’t we? Just asked a question Bro and I believe that evolution is still referred to as a theory.

Harrison

Alas, I had a hairy day (it was Monday, all day long!), and so was not able to pass along this important bulletin in a timely manner:

Dear Friends,

Now that the investigation is complete Coach Dave will be able to dis-assemble the whole bogus “investigation” that was conducted by the board-selected “independent” investigator. For the 1st time you will hear the real story behind what has transpired and how similar the Freshwater case is to Ben Stein’s movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Sadly, Christians have believed what they have heard on TV and read in the papers. Tonight, for the first time, we will begin to shine light on the real reason they are after John Freshwater. Pass The Salt Monday night 6:30 - 8:00 on am880 WRFD and www.coachdavelive.com on the internet.

Passing the Salt, Coach Dave Daubenmire

Mea culpa, mea maximass culpa!

I am not worthy to view so godly a website, even if I had the time or energy tonight, but I pray that some stronger pilgrim may go forth and return with the Real Story ™ for us lesser beings.

Thanks for the outstanding update. Freshwater needed to go. I would still like to know what this guy was thinking when he started branding his students. What a nutball.

Harrison Wrote:

For the record , I was well trained in evolution for 14 years and for the longest time assumed acceptance of it’s existence until I started to notice that there wasn’t much proof. Currenlty weighing evolution vs creation but have a difficult time believing that man was an accident.

Let me help. Cell biologist and Christian Kenneth R. Miller certainly does not believe that man was an accident. And he has spent decades weighing evolution vs creationism (“creation” says nothing of hows and whens) and has consistently been 100% on the side of evolution.

Now please answer the simple questions from my comment to you posted ~11 hours before the your comment that I quote above. Best guesses will do if you’re truly still “weighing.”

I’m so sorry - I didn’t graduate with a Doctorate in Science nor am I a MD. However, you don’t have to be a doctor to know when you are sick and you can observe with your own eyes many of the laws of nature.

With that in mind let me ask those of you in the scientific community a question.

What is the second law of thermo dynamics and does it support the theory of evolution?

Note: Please try to answer this question without attacking the author,, George Bush, Ronald Reagon or Dave Daubenmire and his son.

“Just the facts lads, just the facts”

Love Ya

Harrison

Second evasion of simple questions noted.

TO FRANK J

Franks appreciate you staying with me.

Frank J asks Harrison -Since you appear to have a problem with evolution, please tell us if you agree with prominent anti-evolutionist Michael Behe that life on Earth has a history of 3-4 billion years and that humans share common ancestors with other species.

What I have problem with is “junk “ science which engages prejudicial logic where the conclusion is arrived at and then the facts are sought and squeezed to fit (An Evolutionist must have invented KY jelly, right).

I’m not too sure Behe is that much of a anti- evolutionist - he just happened upon some interesting features in cells that blew the butt out of the simple cell theory on which evolution was leaning.

How old is life on earth? Do you want that in minutes, seconds or years. Please , there isn’t a scientist, researcher or psychic than can state with ANY certainty what that is and when they do, someone else comes along with a better answer when needed. (please see previous notation on KY Jelly)

as to when our lineage, and several others with the most similar “designs” originated from nonliving matter.

I think the real question is how we got from non living matter to reach our present day “design”:Please refer to my question on the second law of thermo dynamics

Frank J asks = Please try to answer the questions without irrelevant statements of incredulity about “Darwinism.”

Uh, I thought that’s what this was all about. What’s relevant and credible. I’ll tell you what you tell me if you’ve stop beating you wife yet and I’ll answer your question about relevancy.

If we are to take an honest and objective look at the subject matter at hand I believe we should use objectivity and not bias nor religious props of any flavor .

Harrison said:

I’m so sorry - I didn’t graduate with a Doctorate in Science nor am I a MD. However, you don’t have to be a doctor to know when you are sick and you can observe with your own eyes many of the laws of nature.

“What do you do?”

“I’ve been a professional tennis player for 15 years”

“Wow, you must really be good”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a biologist, I’ve been doing research for 15 years”

“Wow, I bet you still don’t know shit.”

Harrison said:

TO FRANK J

Franks appreciate you staying with me.

Frank J asks Harrison -Since you appear to have a problem with evolution, please tell us if you agree with prominent anti-evolutionist Michael Behe that life on Earth has a history of 3-4 billion years and that humans share common ancestors with other species.

What I have problem…[dodge, dodge, and dodge some more]

They are simple questions, why dodge them? Look it’s easy:

I agree with Behe that life on earth has a history in the billions of years. I also agree with Behe that humans share common ancestors with other species.

That took way less time and space than your longwinded dodge.

Harrison said:

Frank J asks = Please try to answer the questions without irrelevant statements of incredulity about “Darwinism.”

Uh, I thought that’s what this was all about. What’s relevant and credible.

Yes, and what experience has told us around these parts is that people who feign interest in discussing earth and life science while steadfastly refusing to answer even the most basic questions about the subject are not the least bit credible. All they do is parrot wornout creationist nonsense that anyone can find clear refutations of at talkorigins, which makes them not worth our time.

So answer Frank’s questions, or be gone.

RBH said:

It’s not fear, at least not in the fellow I was talking with. It’s profound disinterest. He is flat not interested in reading anything that might be different from what he believes. He regards it as a waste of time.

You have to talk with a few to get a feel for the sheer lack of intellectual curiosity that’s displayed. What’s tragic is that is transmitted to the young.

This one creationist told me that, at least for him, he was uninterested in learning about this world because the next world was of far greater importance, and that anything that we learn about this world is useless, as we will not use anything we learn here in the next world.

What can anyone really say when someone claims that Behe (having done NO research, of course) somehow overturned an understanding of cells developed over a century of detailed study by thousands of scientists, who continue to hone that understanding on a daily basis. And Behe (he says) not only overturned this understanding, he “blew the butt out of it”.

Uh huh. And this from someone who refuses even to hazard a guess about how long life in earth has been around, to within 6 orders of magnitude!

It’s not fear, at least not in the fellow I was talking with. It’s profound disinterest.

Technically (just to needle RBH) this guy wasn’t disinterested, he was UNinterested. One can be disinterested and also be intensely interested in some matter. Ask any judge.

Science Avenger said:

Harrison said:

Frank J asks = Please try to answer the questions without irrelevant statements of incredulity about “Darwinism.”

Uh, I thought that’s what this was all about. What’s relevant and credible.

Yes, and what experience has told us around these parts is that people who feign interest in discussing earth and life science while steadfastly refusing to answer even the most basic questions about the subject are not the least bit credible. All they do is parrot wornout creationist nonsense that anyone can find clear refutations of at talkorigins, which makes them not worth our time.

So answer Frank’s questions, or be gone.

My heart always breaks whenever a creationist claims to know all the answers, and yet, demonstrates that he cannot answer even the most simple question or request truthfully, if he bothers to go through the motions of giving an answer at all.

Flint,

Fuckin’ pedant! :D (I never do get those two straight.)

RBH

raven said:

[Citing parents] We are Christians who practice our faith where it belongs, at church and in our home and, most importantly, outside the public classroom, where the law requires a separation of church and state.

Apparently the “painless” superficial wound wasn’t so painless or superficial.

There are multiple errors in this logic.

First, the parents later admitted the reason their kid had pain (the first night only) is that he had gone directly from the class to put “equipment” (presumably for a sport) on right over the marking, which they admitted irritated the area. That why the one kid was the only one to have discomfort among the half-dozen kiddie volunteers each year for 21 years.

That makes the teacher’s error (with the 21-year non-objection and thus consent of the school) much more minor: He failed to have the kiddies ask parental permission first, and he failed to warn them not to irritate the area for a day. I find those areas for reprimand but not for firing. Science classes also do demos of blood typing and blood sugar reading without always getting parental permission. That’s much more serious, since (unlike the Tesla demo) that pierces the skin and so carries non-negligible infection risks.

Second, there is neither law nor case history forbidding a teacher from mentioning creationism. The cases to date forbid school boards from either requiring creationism or forbidding evolution, but there is nothing on point concerning teachers.

The firable offence he did commit involved neither branding nor illegality, but simple insubordination to verbal instructions from the previous school administration.

Even in that matter, the school had a poor case against him:

(1) It gave the instructions verbally and left no written record in his file, according to the HR report.

(2) The fact of no written record in his file could be interpreted by his employment/labour attorneys to show the school did not consider the infractions severe enough for even a basic written warning.

(3) The HR report is ambiguous as to whether his teaching of creationism occurred before or after the administration told him to stop.

(4) That leaves his only clear insubordination as leaving one Bible and one poster in his classroom, when he had been told (verbally?) to remove them all.

Sorry, I don’t find that a firable offence. Even were my atheist kid in his class, by the age of 13 most kids have seen a Bible and are not traumatised by the mere sight.

Except for his religious quirk, he was apparently a competent and well-liked science teacher who got the kids engaged. He should have been better-used and better-managed. For example, have him teach math, physics, and chemistry, but not bio. Or, make him take vacation days the days when evolution etc are discussed.

But don’t lie about his offences by fabricating material about “branding” or about “violating the law”. And don’t deny him due process, such as the warnings and other matters requisite under today’s good labour practice.

The religious have always existed, and I don’t want them to take over, but I don’t want the civil strife which comes with trying to crush them mercilessly. Crushing them rather than engaging or compromise, will only drive their bitterness underground and make it harder to handle.

This whole affair showed the extraordinary pride and stubbornness on both sides, when compromise and tolerance should have been in order.

Harrison said:

evolution is still referred to as a theory.

Of course it has advanced beyond just an eminently observable fact. We have had an understanding of its mechanisms that can predict those observations for 150 years, i.e. what is termed a scientific theory. A theory is an interconnecting set of hypotheses and the data it owns, i.e. the data that it can predict, and it is immensely much more robust and useful than a single observational fact.

It is awfully difficult to see how such an old and well tested theory would be not only invalidated but broken. Invalidation can happen in physics, for example when general relativity theory replaced newtonian gravity theory, but there isn’t any fundamental reasons for that in biology.

(Of course, we still refer to newtonian gravity as a theory despite that it is falsified. And it is a useful approximation in most cases.)

Harrison said:

you can observe with your own eyes many of the laws of nature.

Um, no you can’t - which is why we have methods like measurements and theories that can predict those, and only those.

Harrison Wrote:

How old is life on earth? Do you want that in minutes, seconds or years…I think the real question is how we got from non living matter to reach our present day “design”:Please refer to my question on the second law of thermo dynamics…

Third evasion noted. The lurkers know where to find the “2LOT refutes evolution” canard, and the answers to it. Most of them have probably also dismissed you as a troll.

The lurkers know where to find the “2LOT refutes evolution” canard, and the answers to it.

Yeah, there’s at least a dozen ways of answering that one, ranging from technical to sarcastic.

Henry

Atheist- It does not say anywhere right after school the kid went to sports. You are assuming a lot. Did you read the whole report? This has been going on for a long time. He was told in 2003 he couldn’t teach certain things. It is obvious that last year and this year he crossed the line and taught what he had been told not to.

Pierce R. Butler said:

Now that Freshwater’s burning of a student’s arm is officially on the public record - and in the local media - when are the Mt. Vernon police going to fulfill their sworn duty and arrest the perpetrator?

Or are they going to continue to pull a Pelosi?

Perhaps you should ask them personally: the answer might be that (1) the boy never went to the doctor or ER for treatment of such a “serious burn”(2) it has never been established that he did receive a burn (3) the photo has never been authenticated (4) Kenon college prof said that it was impossible to achieve that kind of mark with the device (5) if this had really happened in this way and to this degree, what parent would wait over five months to bring it to the public light if the school indeed did nothing about it ??? I’d be screaming my head off and so would any parent of an abused child!.…so perhaps it didn’t quite happen the way that it’s been reported and been sensationalized by the media??

Richard B. Hoppe,

I also was at that school board meeting and overheard the conversation you describe in your article. I was initially impressed by your ability to engage in a civil conversation with them even though you disagreed with their beliefs. You came across as someone who was willing to think about their statements. However, I was surprised with your comments in this article about that conversation:

First, the students you were talking with have never been taught by John Freshwater. (Did they ever say they had? Did you ask, or just assume?)

Second, while it is true that the adult you spoke with refused to consider reading the book you suggested to him, you failed to mention that one of the students you were talking with expressed interest in reading some of the resources you recommended. He, in turn, had some things for you to look at and you gave your email address to him. Did you read his email?

Lastly, you describe the kids as “genuinely doomed to a life of intellectual sterility.” While I don’t remember every detail about your conversation with them, I do know that it was a two-way debate. They did not lack for “intellectuality.”

wilhelm said:

Lastly, you describe the kids as “genuinely doomed to a life of intellectual sterility.” While I don’t remember every detail about your conversation with them, I do know that it was a two-way debate. They did not lack for “intellectuality.”

How can a child not be intellectually sterile if her teacher taught her that every single thing that Science and scientists say is wrong because Science and scientists contradict the Bible?

How can a child not be intellectually sterile if her teacher trained her to question the word of anyone who does not interpret the Bible in the exact same way her teacher does?

Stanton said: How can a child not be intellectually sterile if her teacher taught her that every single thing that Science and scientists say is wrong because Science and scientists contradict the Bible?

How can a child not be intellectually sterile if her teacher trained her to question the word of anyone who does not interpret the Bible in the exact same way her teacher does?

You were responding to my post, so are you talking about the students in my post? (If you read the post you will know that I stated they had never been taught by John Freshwater.) You are claiming one of two things:

One—that the students in Mr. Freshwater’s class were told to not believe anything that science says. (That would hyperbole.)

Or two—that you know what the students that Richard Hoppe was talking with have been taught by their teacher. (I’m going to make a wild guess and say that you don’t know their teacher.)

And by the way, the students in my post are “he” not “her.”

wilhelm wrote

First, the students you were talking with have never been taught by John Freshwater. (Did they ever say they had? Did you ask, or just assume?)

I’m afraid you heard only parts of the conversations I had. Were you in the parking lot when I was offered the NASA discovered the day that Joshua made the sun stand still story? Did you hear one boy tell me he took Sunday school from Freshwater? I had several conversations that day; my account above is a summary across several such conversations.

And giving him my email was apparently futile. I’ve never heard from him, unless his email found its way into the spam filter.

Wilhelm concluded

While I don’t remember every detail about your conversation with them, I do know that it was a two-way debate. They did not lack for “intellectuality.”

Once again, they parroted arguments with no apparent understanding of what they were saying and no evidence that they could evaluate the arguments. They merely repeated what they’ve read or been told because it agreed with their preconceptions, and abandoned an argument not because it was refuted but because another fundamentalist authority, Answers in Genesis, disagreed.

RBH said:

wilhelm wrote

First, the students you were talking with have never been taught by John Freshwater. (Did they ever say they had? Did you ask, or just assume?)

I’m afraid you heard only parts of the conversations I had. Were you in the parking lot when I was offered the NASA discovered the day that Joshua made the sun stand still story? Did you hear one boy tell me he took Sunday school from Freshwater? I had several conversations that day; my account above is a summary across several such conversations.

I stand corrected over the matter of whether any of the students you talked to that day had actually been taught by Mr. Freshwater. (I was going off of the reference to it being about the conversation taking place during the time the board was in executive session…)

Sorry. I should have made that clearer. I had two conversations with students and two with a couple of adults over the course of four hours during the exec session and afterward. And I misremembered above: It was an adult mother of a Freshwater student who gave me (with a straight face) the NASA/Joshua claim.

This isn’t about freedom of religion. It is about a teacher who burns students, disrespects peoples views and the system that he “choose” to contract with and agree to abide by the rules. A system that is a “public” educational system comprised of people of all religions who are there to get an education and be treated with respect. Burning a students arm and more than one student with an approx 8 inch cross is none of the above. I know John Freshwater. I live in Mt. Vernon and this guy is deserving of being fired. Those who want to align themselves with him in a blind and false crusade to support what they think are Christian views insult themselves and the Christian religion. Please support his firing! Would you want your child’s arm burned by a fundamental and I do mean “mental” lunatic?

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on June 20, 2008 5:14 PM.

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