Freshwater Day 8: Investigator cross, and another former student

| 42 Comments

Note: Day 9 summary will be delayed: I’m going to watch some football!

Day 8 of the hearing saw the completion of cross examination of the independent investigator Thomas Herlevi and fairly brief testimony from Joe Barone, a former student in Freshwater’s class. This will be a brief summary identifying the main lines of questions and responses.

Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s lawyer, pursued several themes in his continuing cross examination of Herlevi. One main theme was the accuracy and completeness of the report HR On Call, Inc., submitted to the Board of Education.

More below the fold

One line of questioning on that theme concerned the sentence on page 13 of the investigation report that says

He also said he has a Bible beside desk on his lab table that he checked out of the school library. When asked if the school Bible was there to make a statement, he said, “Yes.”

Focus was on what that “statement” was. In an affidavit submitted by Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, and signed just this morning by Freshwater, Freshwater claimed that he checked the extra Bible and “Jesus of Nazareth” out of the middle school library both so that he’d have a Bible in case he lost his “inspiration,” his own Bible, which he apparently thought might be confiscated by the administration. The affidavit also said that these were religious books that were in the middle school library having been bought with government funds, and were checked out and placed on the table in his room because Freshwater was “curious” (it was never made clear about what; bear in mind that the gallery, including me, were not able to read the affidavit and thus I depend on its description in questioning and testimony.)

Herlevi acknowledged that Freshwater had told him in his interview about the “government funds” reason but that he had not included that detail in the report. Hamilton used that opening to press on whether there were other “details” that had been omitted from the report. Herlevi repeatedly denied that relevant facts were omitted.

A second theme of the cross examination was a continuation of Hamilton’s earlier effort to place responsibility for Freshwater’s problem now on the Dennis family. Hamilton spent a good deal of time walking through portions of the investigation report, asking about the provenance of a number of statements attributed to “a student” or “a teacher.” At the time the report was written there was apparently an effort to preserve the anonymity of many of the people interviewed, or at least to not tie specific statements to specific people. In the case of the Dennis family that was on account of the anonymity privilege they had invoked in filing their federal suit against Freshwater and the District. It’s not clear specifically why the anonymity was preserved for others.

At any rate, the provenance of many of the statements in the report as established by this line of questioning did not trace back to the Dennis family and Zachary Dennis in particular. Though the initial lines of the investigation were set by the Dennis’ complaint in the federal suit, a number of other emerged in the course of the investigation. At one point Hamilton had Herlevi count up the number of specific allegations, identifying which went into Herlevi’s “supported” category and which were insufficiently supported by evidence found in the investigation. Herlevi identified 12 such allegations, of which 7 were found by the investigators to have substantial support and therefore seem to be actionable, and 5 were found to have insufficient evidence to classify as substantially supported.

Hamilton also pressed on whether Herlevi sought corroboration for some allegations. For example, referring to an email from Jim Stockdale (formerly a substitute teacher who visited Freshwater’s classroom), Hamilton wondered why Herlevi didn’t seek corroboration or question Freshwater about it. (That email, a paragraph of which is reproduced in the Day 7 post, identified what amounts to a homophobic atmosphere in Freshwater’s class. Herlevi replied that he found Stockdale to be credible.

Hamilton asked why Herlevi didn’t contact FCA speakers to ascertain whether they were contacted by Freshwater, in contravention of the FCA faculy monitor guidelines. Herelevi replied that he didn’t think it was necessary. (Recall that yesterday a pastor testified that Freshwater had indeed contacted him regarding his FCA visit.)

Hamilton asked a series of questions about the occasion on which Herlevi used the Tesla coil on his own arm. Herlevi stated that it “wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve done,” and that a 1-2 second application from about an inch hurt. In that same scene, which was in Middle School Principal Bill White’s office, they found that the arc from the coil would burn paper.

There was a long series of questions directed at Zach Dennis’ account of the “healing” prayer. In the federal complaint the description is quite detailed, with the participants (including Freshwater) forming a circle around the pastor who was being prayed for, and holding hands, and Freshwater raising his hands over the victim. There was reference to casting Satan out, or something along those lines. In his response Herlevi said the main components of Zach’s description were substantiated, even to another teacher saying that “Satan” could have been mentioned (though she wasn’t sure of it), but that the prayer was a prayer of encouragement, not a prayer of command. (I’m sorry if this description is kind of blurred, folks, but I’m color-blind in that range. Apparently in the particular sect of which Freshwater is a member one can command Satan in a prayer, thereby driving Him out, or one can pray to encourage the victim who has to do the actual work of casting Satan out, or something. It all seems pretty bizarre to me, but I guess once one has swallowed a half a glass of Kool Aid, another half-glass is easy.)

Regarding the extra credit assignment to watch “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” and write an “objective, unbiased” paragraph about it, Hamilton made the point that the language (“objective, unbiased”) reproduced language in Mt. Vernon School Board policy for the treatment of controversial issues. Herlevi testifed that Freshwater characterized “Expelled” as “a science movie,” but that he (Herlevi) found that it was an intelligent design film. Students were given a choice whether to do the “Expelled” assignment for extra credit, or write “on any other current event.” (Once again, note that this is a science class.)

Hamilton spent a good deal of time on the various handouts from Freshwater that were included in the investigator’s report as attachments, attempting to cast doubt on their provenance. I won’t even attempt to summarize that line except to say that Herlevi basically took the word of the various people who gave him the handouts.

Hamilton’s questioning returned to his earlier theme of administrative inaction in previous years. Along those lines, one Freshwater handout that included ID creationist material was found in a file maintained by the former Superintendent, Jeff Maley. It had been sent to Dr. Linda Weston, then the director of curriculum, from Elle Button, a middle school science teacher and mother of Kate Button, a former Freshwater student who testified on Day 6. Elle Button’s note to Weston, not reproduced in the report or read in the hearing, apparently identified the handout as inappropriate. Hamilton pressed on the lack of action by Dr. Weston, who told the investigator that she didn’t remember the incident. And there was no record of any action taken by Maley, in whose file it was found. Maley told the investigator that there were no complaints in Freshwater’s file “,,, because parents did not want him fired, so there is nothing in writing in his file” (p 13 of investigator’s report).

The administrative inaction theme was raised again in connection with high school science teacher Bonnie Schutte’s “annual note of concern” to Linda Weston, about the questionnaire responses from former Freshwater students in Schutte’s 9th grade science class. (Schutte’s Day 5 testimony here.) Hamilton also asked what actions were taken by Weston regarding Schutte’s concerns. Herlevi replied that he didn’t know.

Apropos of the administrative inaction theme, the Columbus Dispatch published a very strong editorial today about the Freshwater affair. The money quote:

The unfortunate experience should be a cautionary lesson to other school districts dealing with teachers whose personal beliefs get in the way of their responsibility to educate: Don’t look the other way for years, even if the teacher is well-liked and personable. The mistake was not in firing Freshwater but in waiting so long to do it.

Returning to the question of the completeness and adequacy of the investigation, Hamilton pressed Herlevi on why he didn’t get written statements from withnesses. Hamilton referred to the master contract, in which in the case of grievances requires written witness statements. Herlevi responded that he didn’t think it was necessary, and that he gave witnesses the opportunity to provide additional material if they wished after the interviews.

Finally, Hamilton pressed Herlevi on why he didn’t re-interview Freshwater, who was initially interviewed very early in the investigation. Herlevi basically responded that he didn’t think it necessary. While there was apparently a tentative appointment for a second interview set up by Superintendent Short, Herlevi said that he himself had not requested a specific second interview.

That ended the cross examination of Thomas Herlevi.

Joe Barone, former student

Joe Barone was a student in Freshwater’s 8th grade science class in 2001. In diret examination by David Millstone, the Board’s attorney, Barone testified that Freshwater raised questions whenever evolution came up in class, telling the class that he (Freshwater) “didn’t believe in evolution.”

Barone identified several handouts he had saved from Freshwater’s class, on several of which at the end was the question “Was an ID involved?” One handout, for example, was about the angler fish, with notations indicating it was too complicated to have evolved – “Can a high-tech light on a low-tech angler fish evolve?”

Freshwater encouraged debates over evolution and creationism in class, and Barone testified that other students brought their Bibles to class to argue for creationism. He said the debates got very heated. Barone said that when he tried to argue what amounts to a Catholic theistic evolution position (my gloss of Barone’s description), four named students in particular attacked with gibes, including Freshwater’s son Luke who was in the class. Barone testified that he was the only student arguing for the theistic evolution position, and that he wasn’t sure that Freshwater was aware of what it meant to have the rest of the class was ganging up on him.

Barone testified about one handout that contrasted “three theories” – Darwinian/natural selection vs. Wallace ‘all but the brain’ vs. creationism. Freshwater used a picture of Lucy – an Australopithecus afarensis – to illustrate the “Wallace” position.

In cross examination Barone was asked why he came forward. He responded that he thought things had got better in Freshwater’s class after he left for the high school, and that the current public controversy convinced him that things had had not improved and the kind of persecution he experienced in Freshwater’s class had apparently got worse rather than better. His parents had spoken out about it at school board meetings in the spring, and had asked his permission to look through the materials he had saved from Freshwater’s class.

Hamilton asked Joe why he had not complained at the time, particularly since his mother was a music teacher in the Mt. Vernon system. Joe replied that it mostly occurred int he spring, in MAy, and that since he’d soon be getting out of middle school to go to high school he rode it out. He mentioned that his older sisters and he were accustomed – inured? habituated? All capture something of Joe’s testimony on this point – to what amounts to casual prejudice against Catholics in the school system from the Protestant fundamentalists.

Joe testified that Freshwater had put up a swathe of butcher paper on the wall for written comments about the evolution/creationism debates in class. That, he said, allowed the same sort of persecuting comments and gibes by other students to be written down on the paper when Joe wrote his position, in a sense concretizing the persecution.

Joe testified that he had expected that in Freshwater’s classroom there would be less of that sort of thing – he had been a classmate of Luke Freshwater since 2nd grade and knew the family. But it wasn’t different in Freshwater’s class. Joe said that the lack of response to Joe’s classmates gibes on Freshwater’s part indicated to him silent agreement.

That was the main burden of the day’s testimony. We resume the Board’s case tomorrow.

Once again, I’ll edit for typos when I’m more awake.

42 Comments

From your report, Herlevi doesn’t come off very well. Do you think he did a sufficiently thorough job?

can I suggest that the reason Freshwater openly parades the Bible and creationist/ID material is that he is so convinced of their veracity (albeit for irrational reasons) that he has total confidence that they will stand up to any logical (viz scientific) attack. In other words, he knows the material is confronting and divisive, but his “passive aggressive” assault on the beliefs he opposes is justified because he “knows” that a full investigation will reveal that his position is right. I feel he is saying “go ahead and complain about my displays, because your arguments will be shot down”

Rilke’s Granddaughter said:

From your report, Herlevi doesn’t come off very well. Do you think he did a sufficiently thorough job?

Hi there!

I think there were a number of instances in which he could (and perhaps should) have pushed further. Similarly, I think a fairly strong argument has been made by Freshwater’s attorney that previous administrators badly fumbled the ball on a number of occasions. However, having read the report and then having sat through 8 days of sworn testimony, at this stage it appears to me that the case for termination is strong. Whether the referee will see it that way is another question; I can’t read him at all. But I don’t think Freshwater’s attorney has (yet) made a case anywhere near sufficient to impeach the report and recommend against termination.

From your report, Herlevi doesn’t come off very well. Do you think he did a sufficiently thorough job?

It appears Freshwater’s lawyer is trying to create the impression (through things like asking if statements were taken under oath) that the standards of pre-trial discovery were a necessary part of any investigation. In the reports we’ve had so far, there’s been no report of Hamilton’s eliciting from Herlevi that any of the witnesses are unknown as opposed to not being named in the report. If Herlevi’s notes record who, for instance, ‘a student’ was in each case where he refers to a witness, then the fact the student isn’t named in the report is a red herring. It seems to me so far that Hamilton’s questions have all really just bounced off with only the fact Hamilton asked the question as the basis for doubt rather than Herlevi’s answers being such.

There’s always more that you can do with unlimited time and budget, but the question really is whether any failure to do any of that ‘more’ leaves any of the conclusions in Herlevi’s report unsupported. I don’t think Hamilton has got near that yet.

BTW, getting written statements done is not always as quick and easy as is shown on TV cop/lawyer shows, where the time it takes to write the statement down, have the witness review it and make any changes that are needed is edited out. If an investigator is to get written statements from all witnesses, it will need to be reflected in the contract because that process can easily more than double the time it takes to deal with a specific witness and time is money.

Hamilton asked Joe why he had not complained at the time, particularly since his mother was a music teacher in the Mt. Vernon system.

Hamilton should be ashamed of himself for that question. The kid was an eighth-grader for crying-out-loud! When I was picked on as a kid, I found that my complaints only made the abuse worse. I’d be willing to bet that Joe Barone expected the same and kept his mouth shut.

I find it odd that the Board’s attorney didn’t see fit to do a redirct.

I find it odd that this case has not yet been adjudicated, one way or the other. Waste of legal talent and time that would be MUCH BETTER spent tracking down and prosecuting Bush war criminals.

Enjoy.

Tim Fuller said:

I find it odd that this case has not yet been adjudicated, one way or the other. Waste of legal talent and time that would be MUCH BETTER spent tracking down and prosecuting Bush war criminals.

Enjoy.

Yes, its a good thing they were able to avoid the cost and time of an actual lawsuit by doing an administrative investigation instead. Poor Pyrrhus is rolling over in his grave.

snaxalotl said:

can I suggest that the reason Freshwater openly parades the Bible and creationist/ID material is that he is so convinced of their veracity (albeit for irrational reasons) that he has total confidence that they will stand up to any logical (viz scientific) attack. In other words, he knows the material is confronting and divisive, but his “passive aggressive” assault on the beliefs he opposes is justified because he “knows” that a full investigation will reveal that his position is right. I feel he is saying “go ahead and complain about my displays, because your arguments will be shot down”

It’s more likely that he just does not care whether what he does is legal or not, because he’s RIGHT. So to speak.

Break for football is good. GO GATORS!!! 14-7 and a blocked punt just now near the end of the 3rd. Woo-hoo!

In the spirit of a break, below is new publication from Science some folks might find interesting.

Link (subscription required): http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conte[…]323/5911/223

Abstract: Evolution of Darwin’s Thinking

The principal sources of Darwin’s originality in the formulation of his theory of evolution by natural selection are reviewed by Bowler (p. 223), who focuses on Darwin’s recognition that the evolution of life must be represented as an irregularly branching tree. The author contrasts this idea with other models available at the time and identifies the source of Darwin’s idea in his work on biogeography. The role of artificial selection in Darwin’s thinking and his appeal to the metaphor of the “struggle for existence” are also analyzed.

eric said:

Yes, its a good thing they were able to avoid the cost and time of an actual lawsuit by doing an administrative investigation instead. Poor Pyrrhus is rolling over in his grave.

In what world. eric, does one fire a teacher for insubordination by launching a lawsuit against the teacher? That is just not how employment law works.

Even from only a purely legal-tactical point of view, you fire the teacher and let the teacher bring suit if they disagree, which is essentially what is happening with Freshwater challenging the board’s decision before an administrative tribunal (which tends to be much less expensive than the courts).

Mike from Ottawa said: In what world. eric, does one fire a teacher for insubordination by launching a lawsuit against the teacher? That is just not how employment law works.

Frankly, it depends on the location. Employment law differs from state-to-state. While it is unusual, the question that comes up is whether there needed to be cause given to fire the teacher. This is further complicated by this being a teacher, which is considered a special type of employee. (I’ll have to ask my wife, who works for the unemployment office here, to get more details.)

I agree that its Freshwater that is considering the lawsuit against the school, not the other way around. Sorry if that was unclear from my post.

My point was that its a Pyrrhic victory to have a high cost administrative hearing in order to avoid a high cost lawsuit. Particularly since the administrative hearing doesn’t prevent Freshwater from filing a lawsuit against the school afterwards. Yeah, a proper administrative hearing may leave Freshwater in a much weaker legal position, and that may deter a lawsuit, but at the end of the day the school is still in the classic position of ‘another victory like that will ruin us.’

Mike from Ottawa said: In what world. eric, does one fire a teacher for insubordination by launching a lawsuit against the teacher? That is just not how employment law works.

eric said: My point was that its a Pyrrhic victory to have a high cost administrative hearing in order to avoid a high cost lawsuit. Particularly since the administrative hearing doesn’t prevent Freshwater from filing a lawsuit against the school afterwards.

I’m not sure this was unavoidable or that the administrative hearing is to replace the lawsuit. The board didn’t vote to fire Freshwater yet, it voted 5-0 to consider termination. I’m not sure if that’s a move that’s required. Once the board voted to consider termination, Freshwater was allowed 10 days to request a hearing. The updates RBH is writing are from that hearing. If the school board was legally allowed (are they?) to just fire Freshwater without “considering termination” first to allow for the possibility of an administrative hearing, they probably should have. It’s unclear to me, though, that they could have.

Ryan, do you think this school administration spends $200,000 every time it considers termination? If not, why do you think they’re doing it now? Because they are afraid if they don’t dot every i and cross every t they’ll get sued, right?

So, they’ve spent $200,000 (so far!) on a hearing to avoid an expensive lawsuit that may come anyway. Whether a termination hearing was unavoidable is not what prompted my ‘pyrrhic’ comment. Its the amount of money spent to avoid spending money.

Ryan said: I’m not sure this was unavoidable or that the administrative hearing is to replace the lawsuit. The board didn’t vote to fire Freshwater yet, it voted 5-0 to consider termination. I’m not sure if that’s a move that’s required. Once the board voted to consider termination, Freshwater was allowed 10 days to request a hearing. The updates RBH is writing are from that hearing. If the school board was legally allowed (are they?) to just fire Freshwater without “considering termination” first to allow for the possibility of an administrative hearing, they probably should have. It’s unclear to me, though, that they could have.

eric said: Ryan, do you think this school administration spends $200,000 every time it considers termination? If not, why do you think they’re doing it now? Because they are afraid if they don’t dot every i and cross every t they’ll get sued, right?

Eric, I don’t disagree with you; fear could be a motivating factor. I do wonder, though, how frequently a teacher under consideration for termination actually utilizes their right to an administrative hearing. When they do, what’s the average amount spent by the district? Contract termination appears to require the allowance of the potentially terminated to request an administrative hearing. Again, I don’t know for sure and haven’t spent much time trying to track that down, but it would appear to be sensible. If that’s the case, then the school didn’t have any choice but to spend money on laying out its case. Now, perhaps, the amount of money being shelled out is a little much, but I don’t feel, as a member of the community, that my money is being misspent (well, not directly my money; my income is not taxed for the school [it should be!] and I’m not a property owner). The problem arose years ago and was ignored by like-minded folks in the system. Of course it’s going to cost some money to clean up. It’s just unfortunate that he was allowed to proselytize and mislead these kids for so long.

Ryan said: I do wonder, though, how frequently a teacher under consideration for termination actually utilizes their right to an administrative hearing. When they do, what’s the average amount spent by the district?

Without knowing the specific answer to that question, I will buy you a donut if the “typical” teacher termination administrative hearing includes 13 full days of questioning, including a full day questioning of the school Superintendant (day 2).

Its not my state, school district, or money either so I can’t really decide whether this is worth the cost. But if it were my district I would personally rather see 1-2 hours spent on it and the remaining $199,000 and 12.7 work days spent on, say, acquiring new textbooks. Or musical instruments. Or paying for another teacher for the next 2-4 school years. Or… I think you get my drift.

eric said:

Ryan said: I do wonder, though, how frequently a teacher under consideration for termination actually utilizes their right to an administrative hearing. When they do, what’s the average amount spent by the district?

Without knowing the specific answer to that question, I will buy you a donut if the “typical” teacher termination administrative hearing includes 13 full days of questioning, including a full day questioning of the school Superintendant (day 2).

Its not my state, school district, or money either so I can’t really decide whether this is worth the cost. But if it were my district I would personally rather see 1-2 hours spent on it and the remaining $199,000 and 12.7 work days spent on, say, acquiring new textbooks. Or musical instruments. Or paying for another teacher for the next 2-4 school years. Or… I think you get my drift.

Those of us who live in the district and pay property taxes to the school district wish the same. But the proceeding now under way is required as a matter of Ohio statue law. Eric is writing as though the district had a choice; it didn’t.

“I’d be willing to bet that Joe Barone expected the same and kept his mouth shut.”

Science aside, Freshwater has taught Joe an invaluable lesson: When you become embroiled in a disputation between evolution and creationism, its balls to the wall time. Of course, its usually preferable not to get embroiled in that kind of nitshit. No one is going to win. So, the practical approach is kind of go along to get along. An eight grade science class is not a place for ideological warfare; try a social science class.

An eight grade science class is not a place for ideological warfare

Silver Fox, I couldn’t disagree more. These kids are being hurt now. This wrong has to end now. ID/Creationists may be engaged in an ideological war, but science educators are not.

Fine, SF, what a good plan! Given that they’ve got resources and infrastructure and they’re willing to fight to the last ditch (and then some), it’s too expensive to stop the fanatics. So let’s not bother. Nobody wins a fight like that. Who cares, anyway?

Nobody, except maybe the side interested in reality. Or education. Or scholarship. Or, when it comes right down to it, civilisation.

So by all means, let the barbarians in. Let’s not bother. I mean, it’s not as though they’re burning witches in the mall.

Yet.

SF, as a recently retired high school teacher, I can testify to how infuriating, aggravating, and dispiriting it is to have kids show up who have NOT been taught, or taught wrong stuff in middle school. And I was just an English teacher. It would take a number approaching 5 digits to estimate the number of students that I had over the years who thought that “alot” was a real word, because no one had ever told them different or corrected them when they wrote it.

And in a science-oriented public magnet school, I frequently used science fiction and nonfiction science books (such as COSMOS, by Carl Sagan). And I knew, every year, that there would be students protesting, and sometimes parents, about having to read about evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth, and–I swear–the very existence of dinosaurs and the heliocentric solar system! At least I never had a flat-earther (or he kept his mouth shut).

And all that YEC crap is what they learned in school, usually, or at least no one had ever seriously challenged their YECism. (I know for a fact that there are 8th grade science teachers out there who STILL teach that men have fewer ribs than women because of the one Adam lost! And how many kids showed up knowing for certain that Noah’s Ark had been found, because some teacher in jr. high had shown them the video?)

I even learned in later years that the local Jesus “academies,” who had kids planning on coming to our high school, warned their little proselytes about that “atheist English teacher” who would make them read about EVOLUTION (IOW, actual science).

Frank B said: Silver Fox, I couldn’t disagree more. These kids are being hurt now. This wrong has to end now. ID/Creationists may be engaged in an ideological war, but science educators are not.

Science educators who aren’t engaged have brought a spoon to a knife fight. Many kids are ignorant of science just because many science educators don’t realize that science is the subject of an ideological war.

Every science educator in America (heck, every science student) should have a copy of the January issue of Scientific American - http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]ary-iss.html

Every science educator and student should have http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]atzke-i.html available to read.

I used to have a fundamentalist christian science teacher in secondary school. He taught evolution, or as he correctly described it, ‘descent with modification’ very well; he had to, it was a state school and all us kids (or the majority) were atheist or lapsed Catholics, basically the same. Whenever he mentioned, or described something he disagreed with he would always conclude the lesson with a wry, “or, so the theory goes”. He proved to me that fundies can retain faith while teaching evolution, as long as they qualify, and make plain their reservations. Honest guy, we liked him, and wound him up no end, but his sense of humour and faith remained unchallenged. I remain a devout atheist, with utter contempt for religion, and the vast swaithe of religionists. Rob.

Paul Burnett Wrote:

Every science educator in America (heck, every science student) should have a copy of the January issue of Scientific American - http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]ary-iss.html

Every science educator and student should have http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]atzke-i.html available to read.

I agree 100%, though with the caution that some of the more technical SciAm articles will not be understood by most students. And it could be worse if they have parents who are skilled at taking words out of context.

Anyway, what really drives me nuts is that, while discussion of the SciAm and PT articles may be inappropriate for public school science class, lessons on evolution take up only ~0.1% of a student’s waking hours during his high school years (a few hours out of many 1000s). Anti-evolution activists already have the other ~99.9%, but won’t be rest until they control every last second. Defenders of science encourage a real critical analysis of evolution in science class, and even defend students’ right to conduct the phony “critical analysis” on their own time. And the activists have the unmitigated gall to call that “censorship.”

robert van bakel Wrote:

Whenever he mentioned, or described something he disagreed with he would always conclude the lesson with a wry, “or, so the theory goes”.

It’s possible that he was an Omphalos creationist, IOW, he believed an alternate version of natural history in spite of the evidence. A truly committed “scientific” YEC or OEC would not want to teach evolution at all. A “don’t ask, don’t tell” IDer would teach evolution, but never miss any opportunity to promote unreasonable doubt.

He also might have been unaware that he was confusing the scientific definition of “theory” with the colloquial one (“just a guess that’s probably wrong”).

Not to steal Richard’s thunder, but http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]ater-hearing has a great report on Friday’s Freshwater hearing.

Dr. Patricia Princehouse, lecturer in philosophy and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University, was Friday’s sole witness.… Princehouse said (Freshwater’s) worksheets are not serious attempts to teach science and that the source of many of these sheets are from a creationist Web site. …inaccuracies in the worksheet information. She said it — and the other worksheets she examined — seemed to have disinformation, and did not appear to be a serious attempt to teach science.

Good stuff - highly recommended.

Paul,

Given that Freshwater teaches “inaccuracies” and “disinformation” - one would expect the DI, if they had any interest in being consistent (yes, they don’t and they know it, but play along), would demand that students “critically” analyze that material.

When this case was first in the news I checked the DI’s sites and “asked around” in case I missed anything. But the DI was strangely silent - no criticism or defense of Freshwater’s actions. Does anyone know if they are have broken their silence yet?

I haven’t followed all the kinks in this one, but is there a chance that the school district actually SUPPORTS his nonsense and really doesn’t want to fire him? Are they all closeted right wing Christianists? It would explain a lot. They feel a public need to DO SOMETHING because of all the ‘godless’ media attention. They don’t really want to fire the guy. They’ve known him for quite awhile and from what I have read it’s COMMON KNOWLEDGE that he’s a religious loon, but he might just be THEIR religious loon. If not for the burnt cross issue, would this even be an issue? HIS CHURCH-STATE MIXING SHOULD HAVE BEEN NIPPED A LOT EARLIER, and likely would have if he wasn’t surrounded by a sea of supportive syncophants.

His bosses chose not to fire him, but hold a public examination instead, all the while they’re secretly hoping an overwhelming horde of Christians will swamp the streets and valleys of public opinion on their behalf?

Just a theory.

Enjoy.

Paul Burnett said:

Not to steal Richard’s thunder, but http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]ater-hearing has a great report on Friday’s Freshwater hearing.

Dr. Patricia Princehouse, lecturer in philosophy and evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University, was Friday’s sole witness.… Princehouse said (Freshwater’s) worksheets are not serious attempts to teach science and that the source of many of these sheets are from a creationist Web site. …inaccuracies in the worksheet information. She said it — and the other worksheets she examined — seemed to have disinformation, and did not appear to be a serious attempt to teach science.

Good stuff - highly recommended.

Paul is right. Princehouse’s presentation was excellent. Pam Schehl, the Mt. Vernon News reporter, provides a very good summary. And there’s no thunder to be stolen. My own account of the last two days of testimony will probably be posted tonight, barring interruptions, but do read the story Paul linked to.

Tim Fuller said:

I haven’t followed all the kinks in this one, but is there a chance that the school district actually SUPPORTS his nonsense and really doesn’t want to fire him? Are they all closeted right wing Christianists? It would explain a lot. They feel a public need to DO SOMETHING because of all the ‘godless’ media attention. They don’t really want to fire the guy. They’ve known him for quite awhile and from what I have read it’s COMMON KNOWLEDGE that he’s a religious loon, but he might just be THEIR religious loon. If not for the burnt cross issue, would this even be an issue? HIS CHURCH-STATE MIXING SHOULD HAVE BEEN NIPPED A LOT EARLIER, and likely would have if he wasn’t surrounded by a sea of supportive syncophants.

His bosses chose not to fire him, but hold a public examination instead, all the while they’re secretly hoping an overwhelming horde of Christians will swamp the streets and valleys of public opinion on their behalf?

Just a theory.

Enjoy.

No, I don’t think that’s the case. There are some co-religionists of Freshwater in the administration, among other teachers, and in the community, and it seems pretty clear that some of them at least condoned and even supported Freshwater’s behavior in the past. But it’s also the case that previous administrators simply hoped the problem would go away somehow and didn’t take strong and appropriate action when they should have.

And his “bosses” didn’t make the decision to have the hearing, Freshwater did. Ohio law provides that a teacher whose contract is terminated for cause has the opportunity to appeal that decision in this manner, and Freshwater has elected to do so. The current Board of Education and the two relevant senior administrators – the Superintendent of Schools and Principal of the Middle School – are both new to those positions, having taken them just last year. This was dropped in their laps, and they have been dealing with the issue in what I deem to be an appropriate manner.

I see I tangled up a sentence above. I wrote

The current Board of Education and the two relevant senior administrators – the Superintendent of Schools and Principal of the Middle School – are both new to those positions, having taken them just last year.

The two administrators mentioned are new to their positions in the 2007-2008 school year, and two of the five Board Members came on the Board in January 2008. Sorry.

RBH Wrote:

My own account of the last two days of testimony will probably be posted tonight, barring interruptions, but do read the story Paul linked to.

Lemme try this another way. Has the mere existence of the DI been mentioned during the trial? I can wait if you don’t want to spoil any surprises.

BTW, I object to the title of this thread. It should be “..Investigator X..” ;-)

Frank J said: BTW, I object to the title of this thread. It should be “..Investigator X..” ;-)

That’s probably Richard’s little play on words - it should be “…Investigator Cross Examination.” Read the first sentence.

Paul,

Look at the kid’s arm. That’s a “X” I tells ya. ;-)

To me the big deal is leaving a mark on a student. Whether it was a scratch, a bruise, a bite, a burn, Sharpie or a shock it doesn’t matter.

As a teacher: You. Can’t. Do. Stuff. Like. That. To. A. Student.

Yes, Freshwater should have been disciplined or fired years ago for teaching creationism, however, he should have been sacked immediately for marking a student. Whether an X or a cross, Freshwater admitted making the mark. Game over, Freshwater, you’re fired.

DOC BILL, I agree!

Silver Fox said: An eight grade science class is not a place for ideological warfare;

Quite right, the creationists should just fuck off and mind their own business, not hijack public schools and steal taxpayer money for their political goals!

Oh, that wasn’t what you were saying, was it? No, you’re demanding that people who care about reality and education roll over and play dead while the Dishonesty Institute fuckwits take whatever they want. You want scientists to stop pointing out how dishonest your fellow cultists are. You have no problem with ideological warfare, as long as YOUR side are the only ones allowed to bring weapons. You’re a coward and a fraud.

You really are a disgrace to the genus vulpes.

Frank J said:

RBH Wrote:

My own account of the last two days of testimony will probably be posted tonight, barring interruptions, but do read the story Paul linked to.

Lemme try this another way. Has the mere existence of the DI been mentioned during the trial? I can wait if you don’t want to spoil any surprises.

I think so, but just in passing with no elaboration. ID has been mentioned a number of times, and I have a vague memory of maybe one mention of the DI. Let me look back at my roughly 100 pages of notes when I get a chance.

And Patricia Princehouse, in her Friday testimony that I haven’t yet blogged, mentioned it as the current manifestation of the creationist infestation (my phrase).

RBH Wrote:

Let me look back at my roughly 100 pages of notes when I get a chance.

Thanks again. Don’t take any time away from your excellent reporting.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 8, 2009 12:22 AM.

Padian & Matzke in Biochemical Journal was the previous entry in this blog.

Caldwell Asks Supreme Court to Take Frivolous Website Case is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter