High School Field Trip to Creation Museum

I just received an e-mail from the Center for Inquiry, which begins thus:

Matthew LaClair … has alerted us that his former history teacher, David Paszkiewicz, is at it again. You may recall Mr. Paskiewicz–he’s the one who was recorded by LaClair telling students that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark and if “you reject the Lord’s salvation, you belong in hell” (New York Times, 12/18/06). This time, he is acting as the advisor of a Christian club at Kearny High School (located 10 miles outside of Manhattan in New Jersey), called the Alpha and Omega Club, which has scheduled [a field trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, June 5-7].

LaClair, who is no longer a student at the school, learned about the trip from the student newspaper. He evidently alerted the school district’s lawyer and also contacted Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He convinced the school board to postpone the trip till school was out today, June 5, so that the trip would take place entirely out of hours (I infer, therefore, that the trip is no longer an official school field trip). In addition, he got the school board to remove the listing of the Christian club under history and social science.

The Center for Inquiry notes that there are still some troubling problems. School officials initially approved the trip, which suggests to CFI that they were “asleep at the wheel.” CFI adds that

a public school teacher with strong religious convictions and a record of proselytizing is being allowed to serve as the advisor of a religious club and use his position to have a public school approve a patently religious-based fieldtrip.

Religious clubs are permitted in schools, but the adviser is supposed to be “neutral.” CFI questions the teacher’s neutrality since he

has overtly and repeatedly discussed and promoted religious beliefs with his students in the past, and his proposed fieldtrip to the Creation Museum demonstrates that he continues to do so today, dangerously blurring the line between his own personal faith commitments and his obligations as a teacher in a government-funded public school system.