The Board’s rebuttal is an opportunity for its attorney to call witnesses to address claims made in the defense’s presentation of its case. David Millstone, the Board’s attorney, called eight witnesses for the rebuttal, four expert witnesses, three lay witnesses, and Superintendent Short. The expert witnesses addressed various claims the defense made regarding both technical matters (e.g., the match of handwriting on documents, the authenticity of emails, the meaning of “bias” in the academic content standards, and the ancestry of “critical analysis of evolution” in intelligent design creationism) while the lay witnesses addressed various fact claims (e.g., whether Freshwater himself contacted FCA speakers, and the display of religious items in Freshwater’s classroom). Superintendent Short will testify on the next (and last!) date, June 22.
More below the fold
Brad Ritchey Direct Examination
The first rebuttal witness called was Brad Ritchey, who was assistant principal at the middle school in 2007-2008. Ritchey took pictures of Freshwater’s classroom that were entered as exhibits in the hearing and was a participant in (some of?) the meetings Principal White had with Freshwater in the aftermath of the complaint the Dennis family made to Superintendent Short in December 2007.
Ritchey testified that he was in a meeting with Freshwater and White in which Freshwater was asked if he participated in prayer in a Fellowship of Christian Atheletes meeting. He said Freshwater said that he had; that he may have raised his arms, and he demonstrated that action to White and Ritchey. Ritchey raised his own arms demonstrating Freshwater’s behavior, and they were pretty high above his shoulders. Recall that Freshwater has previously claimed that at the time of the prayer incident he was being treated for shoulder problems and couldn’t raise his arms. Asked, Ritchey said Freshwater displayed no apparent pain in his demonstration. Ritchey testified that Freshwater did not tell them he said only “Amen” and did not tell them that he joined the prayer only to close it because the meeting was running late.
Ritchey testified that in the meeting with Freshwater about the Tesla coil incident Principal White did not instruct Freshwater to destroy the Tesla coil.
Millstone asked if bulletin boards in classrooms are for the display of student club materials. Ritchey replied “Not typically.” Recall that there was a “Cross Club” poster on Freshwater’s bulletin board.
Turning to the pictures Ritchey took, he identified pictures of the Bush/Powell poster that has a Bibe verse on it, the 10 Commandements poster, the Bible on Freshwater’s desk, and the “motivational” posters on cabinet doors containing Bible verses. Ritchey testified that he did not recall seeing any of the latter with non-Biblical sayings on them. Asked if they all had Bible verses on them, Ritchey said “Several of them did.”
Ritchey Cross Examination
In cross, R. Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, asked Ritchey if he took notes on the meetings with Freshwater. He didn’t recall doing so. Hamilton asked if Ritchey had given notes to White or Short. He said that if he had taken notes he would have.
Turning to the FCA business, Hamilton asked if Ritchey had spoken with Pastor Zirkle or any of the teachers or students at that FCA meeting. He had not. Asked, Ritchey testified that he had not spoken with Zach Dennis.
Hamilton asked if White had taken notes in the meeting with Freshwater about the FCA incident. Ritchey didn’t know.
After the meeting with Freshwater, Ritchey testified, he attended one or two FCA meetings and saw nothing amiss.
Hamilton asked if there was a Korean club at the middle school. He replied that there had been, that it was led by a Korean teacher temporarily in the Mt. Vernon district on some sort of teacher exchange program. He testified that announcements of Korean club doings were made in the school. He didn’t know whether Korean club posters were displayed in the school.
Turning to the pictures, Ritchey testified that he was alone when he took the pictures. Hamilton pressed Ritchey on why he didn’t remove the religious items when he saw them if he thought they were inappropriate. Ritchey said he thought there was some school policy on removing teachers’ personal items. Hamilton asked if it was unlawful to have religious items in the classroom. Ritchey said he guessed so with regard to federal law.
Hamilton asked how many pictures Ritchey took. He responded seven or eight. Hamilton asked if there were areas of Freshwater’s classroom that Ritchey did not photograph, and there were. Asked, Ritchey testified that the pictures were deleted from the camera by his wife (it was his personal digital camera) but that they should be available on the school’s email system.
Hamilton asked if Ritchey could have done a better job of photographing the classroom. He replied “I could have taken more pictures, but I wasn’t asked to document everything in the classroom.”
Hamilton asked whether in the meeting with Freshwater they had discussed how Freshwater used the Tesla coil. Ritchey said they did. Asked, he said he couldn’t remember specifics.
Hamilton turned to a January 22, 2008, letter to Freshwater from Ritchey and White that followed up on their meeting, He asked Ritchey if they had the authority to write the letter, and Ritchey said they did. Hamilton asked if the letter “finalized” the Tesla coil issue for Freshwater. Ritchey replied that “direction” was established with that letter.
Millstone asked if Ritchey saw any “motivational” posters in Freshwater’s classroom that did not have Bible verses on them. Ritchey replied that he did not.
Hamilton showed Ritchey a poster similar to those in the classroom with a saying from Confucius and Ritchey agreed it could have been in the classroom. (Note: The layout of the Confucius poster Hamilton has used as an example several times in the hearing is slightly different in detail from those shown in Ritchey’s photographs, though attention has not been drawn to that in the hearing.)
Harold F. Rodin Direct Examination
Rodin is a certified Questioned Documents Examiner from Xenia, Ohio. He has been in that profession for over 30 years. (Side note of no particular relevance: Rodin’s B.S. is from Cedarville College, a fundamentalist Christian college from which Freshwater’s son also recently earned his degree.)
Millstone had asked Rodin to compare two documents, the “Tall Buildings” article with handwritten notes referring to the Tower of Babel that was found in Freshwater’s classroom, which he denied writing, and a textbook from Freshwater’s room that Freshwater had previously identified as containing his own handwritten notes. (I was disappointed that Millstone didn’t also ask for comparison with Freshwater’s lesson plan that I used in my DIY analysis post linked just above.)
The purpose of the analysis Rodin performed was to compare the notes on the article with those in the textbook to ascertain whether the latter, a known sample, were written by the same person as the notes on the article, the unknown sample. Using a large poster, Rodin identified a number of close matches between the letter forms on the two, including the form of “T”, “D”, “G”, “R”, and “K”. Notice that except for the “G”, those are the same matches I identified with the lesson plan in the DIY post linked above. I also identified the form of the “P” as a close match.
Recall that Freshwater denied writing the notes on the “Tall Buildings” article. From an earlier post:
Millstone asked Freshwater if that was his handwriting on this exhibit. Freshwater invoked the ‘forgery’ possibility, said it was not his handwriting and he did not recognize the notes. While he was answering, R. Kelly Hamilton, his attorney, silently mouthed “forgery” to Millstone, and showed the exhibit to Freshwater’s wife, who laughed derisively.
We then had some histrionics from Hamilton about forgery that I didn’t get notes on. Hamilton asked for a recess so he could “… caution my client to be … um … cautious” about documents. The request was denied.
Rodin concluded that based on his professional expertise, it was his opinion that the handwriting on the two documents, the textbook and the article, were by the same person.
Rodin Cross Examination
Hamilton asked if Rodin was working from originals of the documents. He was working from copies. Hamilton asked if it was better to work from originals. Rodin replied that modern copier technology enables working from copies that are faithful representations of originals (my phrasing).
Hamilton asked if movement of an original on a copy machine could cause distortion of materials, and Rodin said “It can.”
Hamilton asked if the handwriting on the top of the “Tall Buildings” article could have been distorted by copying, and Rodin replied that was a hypothetical question. He said “I don’t see any distortion in this.”
Note that judging from my scan, the text of the headline on that article, just below the handwritten notes, is not at all distorted and the typed text on the lesson plan is similarly undistorted. It follows that there was no distortion of the handwriting caused by copier issues.
This sequence of questions nicely illustrates the frailty of the straws at which Hamilton grasps.
John Liptak Direct Examination
Liptak is a computer forensic analyst with Jurrinov, a company in Cleveland that specializes in electronic data discovery and litigation support.
He testified that Millstone had asked him to assess emails whose authenticity was in question. Recall that Hamilton has intimated that several emails to Freshwater on various aspects of the case may have been tampered with.
Liptak testified that he came to the school and obtained a copy of the school’s email backup file. That file contained all the school’s emails prior to the time the backup was created. He took that file back to Cleveland for analysis. He examined all mailboxes, and extracted those for Freshwater, Principal White, and librarian Charlotte Baker. Asked about four specific emails that have been introduced into evidence, he affirmed the authenticity of all four.
Then Millstone asked what would happen to a laptop if it was submerged. Recall that Hamilton avoided producing billing information for the federal court, pleading that his laptop had been damaged by water and he therefore threw it away. Liptak answered that the electronics would undoubtedly be damaged. Asked if data on the hard drive would be eliminated, Liptak replied, “Not necessarily. There are methods to recover information from such drives.”
There was an amusing bit of non-verbal behavior during this last questioning. As Millstone asked Liptak about water damage to laptops, Hamilton swiveled his chair more than 90 degrees to the left, facing away from the witness and staring at the wall behind the referee. He put his forearm on the table and looked straight at the front of the room, his posture rigid and unmoving. It was a hoot for those who saw it.
Liptak Cross Examination [Editorial note: For some reason I did not clearly demarcate the end of Direct and the beginning of Cross in my notes for this witness. I believe from the content of the questions that it was here, but I’m not sure.]
Asked, Liptak testified that the backup he analyzed was for data prior to November 11, 2009. He did not know how far back in time it went; he was not asked to ascertain that.
Referring to the emails, Liptak agreed that he couldn’t tell from the electronic files who operated the computer when they were produced. He said, “I do not know the person who is sitting at the keyboard.”
Asked if they had been read, he didn’t recall if the “read” flags were set.
With reference to the Bible verse sig at the bottom of Charlotte Baker’s email, Liptak testified that he couldn’t tell if it was automatically applied to every email from her or was specifically typed on the email to Freshwater.
He repeated that he saw no evidence of tampering with any of the emails he analyzed.
Marcia Orsborn Direct Examination
Orsborn is a 6th grade math teacher in the middle school. She testified that over time she noticed that in Fellowship of Christian Athletes announcements there were never any Roman Catholic clergy mentioned as speakers. She confronted Freshwater about it in the school, asking him why he never had a Catholic priest in FCA. She said he replied that he would have to check his Bible because he wasn’t sure Catholics were Christians. She said she made a “loser” sign at him (the fingerspelling form for “L” moved briskly out from one’s forehead).
Thereafter, she said, she heckled Freshwater good-naturedly about getting a Catholic clergyman for FCA, and he finally told her that she could contact a priest and get potential dates. She testified that she contacted the office of Father Mark Hammond at St. Vincent DePaul Catholic church in Mt. Vernon. She spoke with a secretary and left a message for Hammond. She did not speak with Hammond himself.
Millstone asked if Orsborn got a sense about who was making decisions concerning FCA speakers. She replied that she assumed it was Freshwater but didn’t know.
Millstone asked if Orsborn had attended FCA meetings. She had done so once, when Dennis Bates (of “Anabolic Outlaw” fame) spoke. She also testified she had Zachary Dennis in class.
Orsborn Cross Examination
Hamilton asked if she goes to Hammond’s church. She replied she did occasionally. Asked, she said she saw the Dennis family there occasionally.
Hamilton referred to Hammond’s deposition for the federal suit dated February 17, 2009, in which he said that he talked about the Catholic faith at FCA, that Catholics believe many of the same things that other Christians believe. Hamilton asked Orsborn what differences there are between Catholic beliefs and those of other Christians. She didn’t know.
Hamilton referred to Board Exhibit 21, an FCA speaker request from which says that Ben Neilson and Jordan Freshwater contacted Hammond. She testified she doesn’t know what happened after she contacted Hammond’s office.
Hamilton asked if Orsborn knows about Care Net, (Care Net is a Christian pregnancy services organization of which Freshwater’s wife is director. It is listed as a “ministry” of Freshwater’s church). Orsbon responded that she knows about it. Asked, she was not aware of a Care Net dinner at which Freshwater and Hammond spoke.
She testified that she got calls from two parents about there not having been Catholic speakers at FCA. One complained that it was because Freshwater didn’t like Catholics; that complaint, she said, was from Dr. Allan Bazzoli, a local physician. (Bazzoli had an incendiary letter to the editor criticizing Freshwater in a recent Mt. Vernon News.) She testified that Bazzoli did not encourage her to contact Freshwater.
Hamilton asked if her heckling of Freshwater about it was good natured, and she agreed. He asked if she had the sense that Freshwater was teasing about his having to consult the Bible about whether Catholics are Christians, and she said “No.” (Note: The syntax of the question was such that it is not clear to me that Orsborn answered “No” thinking Hamilton asked whether Freshwater was kidding or was not kidding.)
Hamilton asked if Orsborn just assumed that Freshwater was the decision maker for FCA, and she agreed.
Hamilton asked if Orsborn was aware that one of Freshwater’s daughters dated a Catholic boy for a time, and even attended Catholic services with him. She was not. (Irrelevant autobiographical note: In the small midwestern town where I lived during my high school years there was no cross-dating that I recall: Us good Protestant boys didn’t date Catholic girls, much as we would have liked to. We could, however, date Missouri Synod Lutheran girls. Those were the only two “foreign” churches in town from my church’s perspective.)
Hamilton asked if she was aware that Freshwater for a time provided transportation to church for an elderly Catholic man. She was not.
Asked, Orsborn testified that she has not really talked with the Dennis family about their allegations against Freshwater. She testified that she said to Zach in school, “How are you doing? Hang in there.”
Hamilton asked whether Bazzoli’s recent letter to the editor showed he didn’t like Freshwater. She replied that she doesn’t know if Bazzoli dislikes Freshwater, but that he has opinions regarding the allegations against Freshwater.
She testified that Freshwater didn’t talk to her about his church background.
She said that after she made the “loser” sign to Freshwater she didn’t talk to him again about his expressed need to check the Bible about Catholics.
Patricia Princehouse Direct Examination
See here for Princehouse’s qualifications and prior testimony in this hearing. Disclosure: I’ve known Patricia for seven years and worked closely with her during the Ohio State Board of Education wars as a member of Ohio Citizens for Science. I am also good friends with her companion dog, a beautiful Pyrenean shepherd (jpg) named Shimmer. Shimmer is a sweetie.
Princehouse was called in rebuttal to address several points that arose during the hearing subsequent to her earlier testimony. Hamilton objected to her testifying, citing some case law regarding recalling a prior expert witness in rebuttal to testify on the same or similar matters that the expert had previously testified on in the same proceeding. The referee permitted her to testify but took the objection under advisement pending Hamilton providing the citations to case law.
Millstone provided Princehouse with Freshwater’s lesson plan containing the terms “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity.” (Recall that Freshwater claimed he didn’t recall what they meant when questioned about the lesson plan.) Princehouse testified that those two terms come from the intelligent design creationism literature and are terms of art in that area. They do not occur as terms in the scientific literature, and are core concepts pushed by the Discovery Institute, the main proponent of intelligent design creationism.
With respect to “irreducible complexity,” Princehouse pointed out that Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, had complained that “irreducible complexity” was identical to his “organized complexity,” and that intelligent design “theorists” have adopted young earth creationist concepts without crediting the sources in YEC writings. She testified that intelligent design is merely traditional creationism relabeled.
She testified that the use of “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” are inappropriate in 8th grade science class, and that their only function is to distract students from real science.
Millstone referred Princehouse to Freshwater’s 2003 proposal to alter the school’s science curriculum to include “critical analysis of evolution.” Millstone noted that Freshwater claimed that it was “not intended to teach religion, intelligent design, or creationism.” Princehouse replied that the policy, whose source is the Intelligent Design Network, is intended to substitute a religious understanding for scientific understanding. She noted that the so-called “Santorum amendment” that Freshwater had offered in support of his proposal had been explicitly excluded from the No Child Left Behind Act.
Millstone asked Princehouse what science is. She replied that the demarcation was somewhat fuzzy, but that science since at least the time of Newton has some essential characteristics, including
- employs methodological materialism/naturalism
- prefers reductionism in the sense of Occam’s Razor/parsimony
- addresses ‘how’ rather than ‘why’
- is testable
- is correctable
- is extendable–one theory interlaces with other theories
She testified that Freshwater’s ‘objective origins’ proposal to teach ‘origins science’ “objectively and without religious, naturalistic, or philosophic bias or assumption” was to abandon science: abandoning methodological naturalism as a rule of thumb in science is tantamount to abandoning science: “Methodological naturalism is the ‘scientific method.’”
Millstone noted that Freshwater has testified that he wanted to export the 10th grade state standard to “critically analyze evolution” down to the 8th grade. Princehouse walked through the history of development of that standard, starting with State BOE member Deborah Owens Fink’s 2000 proposal to adopt a “two models” (evolution and intelligent design) approach in the state standards.
Millstone asked Princehouse whether based on her review of materials and her professional expertise she had an opinion on the 2003 proposal, whether it was in fact “not designed to teach intelligent design or creationism,” as Freshwater has claimed. She said, “It is implausible to suggest the proposer did not know it was to teach intelligent design creationism. … This is certainly a proposal to teach intelligent design creationism.”
Millstone asked if creationists think to teach only evolution in schools is “biased.” She replied that it was common for creationists to claim that “both sides should be taught, and to teach just one side is biased.”
That ended Princehouse’s direct examination. We then broke away from her to hear Father Mark Hammond testify. I’ll summarize his testimony at the end of this post in order not to break up Princehouse’s and Steve Rissing’s testimony.
Princehouse Cross Examination
Hamilton first reiterated his objection to Princehouse testifying, and the referee again permitted her to do so.
Hamilton then pointed out, gratuitously poisoning the well, that Princehouse has received a Playboy Foundation Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment award. Hamilton did not bother to read the citation:
Patricia Princehouse, Ph.D. (Education): The leader of Ohio Citizens for Science who, seeing a profound and rising challenge to the separation of church and state in American schools, organized a successful coalition to preserve science education in Ohio’s public schools.
Her acceptance speech is here. Apropos of the current proceedings, I particularly like this part:
If we allow certain special-interest religious groups to co-opt the public school science classroom, to use it as a vehicle for converting children to religious views their parents don’t hold, if we allow them to spout outright lies about the nature and content of science, what do we really have left? If you can lie about science and get away with it, you can lie about anything.
Hamilton asked what her real reason was to testify at the hearing. She replied it was to rebut some documents and testimony that occurred after her original testimony.
He asked if irreducible complexity and specified complexity were terms used in intelligent design or creationism, and she replied that they are.
Princehouse agreed that the lesson plan in which those terms appear contained a column with letters and numbers identifying specified benchmarks and indicators from the academic content standards.
Hamilton noted that Princehouse used a lot of powerpoint slides in her testimony. She said that when she uses specific quotations in her testimony she likes to have a slide so we have the exact words.
Hamilton asked if Princehouse has more experience in this area than an 8th grade teacher, and she agreed that she does. Hamilton asked if with respect to the stuff she talked about, Freshwater would “have an understanding of that stuff.” She replied that anyone who made the proposal would have some understanding of it.
Hamilton asked if context would be important in understanding Freshwater’s proposal. She replied yes. He asked if she had talked with anyone about how the lesson plan was instructed, and she replied no.
Hamilton asked if Princehouse had reviewed other documents, in particular the letter from Adkins and Cunningham to Superintendent Maley concerning Freshwater’s handouts. She had not. Hamilton asked if Adkins and Cunningham had reviewed Freshwater’s lesson plan would they have noticed the mention of “IC” and “SC.” She replied they might. Hamilton asked if they did not mention them would that indicate that they didn’t see a problem with them. She responded that it might or might not be familiar to them.
Hamilton asked if a principal reviewed the lesson plan should he see that IC and SC were problematic. She replied thatitf depends on the political context–whether intelligent design was salient locally.
Hamilton asked if there was any evidence that Freshwater used any of the information in Princehouse’s slides in his class. She pointed to the terms “IC” and “SC.”
Hamilton asked if IC and SC could be used to talk about scientific ways of knowing as it relates to bias. She replied no, not by her understanding of the standards. (Recall that Princehouse was heavily involved in the Ohio State Board of Education conflict over biological science standards in 2002-2006.) Hamilton asked if a teacher could use IC and SC as an example of erroneous scientific method. She replied, “No, I really don’t think so.”
Hamilton asked when the Dover decision came out. December 20, 2005. Noting that the lesson plan was dated four months later, he asked if a student could have read a newspaper account if it and asked a question in class so Freshwater added it to a lesson plan to address that question. Princehouse replied that it could happen, but that introducing it in lesson plan is unlikely. Hamilton asked if it could be in the lesson plan because a student brought it up earlier. She replied that it would be an irresponsible use of classroom time.
Hamilton asked if tests are the best measurement of what’s learned in classes. She replied, “No, not at all.” Hamilton asked if she is aware that Ohio uses the Ohio Graduation Test and the Ohio Achievement Test (now Ohio Achievement Assessment). She is. (Hamilton was here trying to get in yet another reference to the scores of Freshwater’s classes relative to other science classes. His frustration at her answer to the “best measurement” question was clear.)
Hamilton asked if science teachers are allowed to talk about current events. Princehouse replied that they are under contract to teach specified material and that there is some leeway, but that it should be germane to the content that needs to be taught.
Hamilton asked if the Dover case is most important case to what she talked about in her testimony. She replied it’s the most important recent case. He asked if it has been talked about in academic circles. She replied that some of her colleagues know about it, some don’t.
Hamilton asked if a teacher could use IC and SC plus a ‘short cycle evaluation’ (what I understand to essentially mean “quiz”) to teach scientific ways of knowing. I did not catch her answer–Patricia sometime speaks fast and soft and it’s hard to hear her.
Hamilton referred to the science curriculum committee’s list of reasons to reject Freshwater’s 2003 proposal and asked how the proposal could both be against the law (one reason) and already dealt with by the school’s controversial issues policy. She replied that science teachers arent’ always aware of legal issues.
Citing Sherri Perry’s email and testimony supporting Freshwater’s proposal, Hamilton asked if people in the community could have a different opinion of the proposal than Princehouse. She replied yes.
Hamilton returned to what science is. Princehouse walked through her charactistics again. Hamilton asked if “debate” goes on. Princehouse replied that there’s a distinction between “debate” and “discussion,” and in science it’s discussion with peers and colleagues. There was a confusing sequence of questions associated with “debate” in science vs. in an 8th grade classroom.
Hamilton asked how the issue of human origins is “testable, correctable, and extendable.” Princehouse replied that it was but it would take a day or two of lecture to answer that. All were relieved when Hamilton didn’t pursue that line of questioning.
Hamilton asked if Princehouse knew whether Freshwater used Bryan Leonard’s model lesson plan in class. (Leonard wrote the creationist model lesson plan to exemplify the “critical analysis of evolution” benchmark in the state standards. Original and version adopted, both pdfs.) I didn’t hear her answer.
Hamilton asked if possession of intelligent design books indicates support for it. She replied it does not. Does she have some? Yes. Why? “I’ve taken an interest in creationist attacks on evolution.” Could Freshwater have done that? Yes. Could reading those books help sharpen one’s understanding of what’s good science? Possibly. Did some Ohio scientists support the State Board of Education’s adoption of ‘critical analysis’? Yes.
That ended Princehouse’s testimony–there was no redirect.
Steve Rissing Direct Examination
Rissing is Professor of Biology in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at the Ohio State University in Columbus. He was recruited from Arizona State University in 1999 to run OSU’s introductory biology program. His research is on the evolution of altruism in social insects. Disclosure: I’ve know Steve for seven years and worked closely with him during the Ohio State Board of Education wars as a member of Ohio Citizens for Science. He does not have a beautiful companion dog accompanying him (a remark for which I’ll pay sooner or later).
Rissing was heavily involved in the development process that produced the academic content standards. He was a member of the advisor committee that established goals and guidelines for the actual writing of the standards. The standards themselves were written mainly by committees composed of practitioners–teachers in the field.
Millstone had Rissing outline the structure and process of developing the standards and then focused on the “bias” standard that Freshwater has frequently invoked as justification for a variety of things–the suspect giraffe and woodpecker handouts, the use of “IC” and “SC”, the extra credit assignment to see “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, and so on. Rissing emphasized that “bias” in the context of the science standards was a methodological concept, that it refers to ways of avoiding the effects of preconceptions on research. The 7th grade benchmark for “bias” explicitly mentions those ways, and the standards are cumulative–“bias” in the 8th grade standards is not independent of the operational definition in the 7th grade standards. (That wasn’t as succinct in Rissing’s testimony as I’ve written it here, but this summarizes his testimony across a number of questions and answers.)
With reference to Freshwater’s interpretation in the several instances, Rissing repeatedly said “That’s not what we [the advisory committee] intended.” Asked directly if the giraffe and woodpecker handouts were appropriate to use under the ‘bias” benchmark, Rissing replied, “No, not at all.”
Asked about the source of the handouts, Rissing said that they are found only on a “Manual of God’s Creation” web site, and that site referenced a 1982 creationist pamphlet. (I’ve emailed Steve asking for the URL for that site and will add it in a comment when I get it.)
Shown a quiz Freshwater used in conjunction with the handouts, Rissing testified that it didn’t in any sense test “bias.” The quiz is also bad pedagogy in Rissing’s view, testing only for memorization of terms. Later in his testimony Rissing said that if Freshwater was actually using the handouts to teach bias he would have tested for that in the quiz, and he didn’t.
Millstone asked if referring students to Answers in Genesis was somehow teaching about “bias” in science. Rissing replied that sending someone to AIG and invoking “bias” as a justification is wrong on many levels. It “puts a teacher in a position where he is misrepresenting the science.” Rissing pointed out that the State Department of Education makes exercises illustrating the benchmarks available to teachers, and “this is not one of them.”
Rissing said that it’s unacceptable to use AIG and similar material and then say, “See, I’m showing you bias. It’s unthinkable to do this to 8th graders.”
Shown the lesson plan containing references to IC and SC, Rissing testified that it isnot supportive of the bias indicator, and that “It’s not biology. It’s been shown repeatedly to be not biology.”
Asked if sending students to see “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” os justified by reference to the bias indicator, Rissing replied “That would make no sense to me.”
Millstone referred to testimony that Freshwater had a creationism/evolution debate in his class, and asked Rissing about the use of debates as pedagogical tools. Rissing replied that it is not a tool he uses (recall that he teaches a university intro course for non-majors), and that he knows of no teachers who do. He said it is a bad representation of what science is about. Science is discussion, not “debate.” “I’ve never done science that way, and I certainly never taught science that way.”
Rissing Cross Examination
Hamilton noted that in his direct testimony Rissing several times used the phrase “sensitive to” these issues. Was that because of his association with Ohio Citizens for Science. No.
Hamilton asked how Rissing knows me (RBH). Rissing said that we worked together on the state standards in 2002-3. Hamilton asked if Rissing is familiar with my posts on Panda’s Thumb. Rissing said he is aware of them, but that he has avoided reading them as long as there was the prospect of his testifying in this hearing (again, my gloss of a less clear answer).
Hamilton asked if Rissing was aware that Princehouse got the Playboy First Amendment award. Yes. Did he nominate Princehouse for it? No. Hamilton asked if Rissing protested against the opening of the AIG creationist museum. No. He asked if Rissing talked with Princehouse about their Freshwater testimony. Yes, three or four times.
Hamilton asked if he knew who Bryan Leonard is. Yes. Did Rissing evaluate Leonard’s dissertation? No.
Hamilton asked if Rissing tried to get some of the standards changed. Yes. Did he write an alternative lesson plan? Yes. Was it rejected? Rissing replied that he never heard, that the SBOE had asked him to prepare an alternative lesson plan and he did. He was informed that there was a “rolling” consideration of things like that, and he never heard what happened. (That lesson plan is here. Compare it with the creationist lesson plan written by Leonard, linked above.)
Hamilton asked what “bias” means. Rissing replied that in science it refers to the effects of prior preconceptions on observations. He gave an example from his own research on social insects involving the preconception that ant colonies have a single queen, when he found that the species he studied typically had multiple queens in a colony. Rissing pointed out that materials to help teachers teach the academic content standards were available on the DOE’s resource web site.
Hamilton moved to Rissing’s experience with 8th graders. Asked how much time he’d spent in an 8th grade classroom, he replied approximately 20 hours. Asked how much training he had given to certificated teachers, we wandered into a morass of Q&A on intro bio, workshops, seminars, etc., where it wasn’t clear how many attendees were certificated teachers. Hamilton asked if Freshwater took a class from Rissing. “Not that I am aware of.”
There were some questions on Rissing’s published research on pedagogical techniques on which my notes are too confusing to interpret. Basically, Rissing has recently published a bit on it.
Hamilton asked how teachers are supposed to answer questions from students. “As best they can using their background and experience.
Hamilton asked why Rissing and Princehouse got a Friend of Darwin award from the National Center for Science Education. Rissing replied it was an acknowledgement of their efforts to keep science in Ohio classrooms.
Hamilton returned to a slide Rissing had shown in his direct testimony which was a table showing pre-scientific conceptions of the causes of various diseases (miasma, demons, God’s wrath, etc.) and modern conceptions (viruses and bacteria). Hamilton asked why Rissing showed non-scientific concepts in a science class. Rissing answered that it was actually developed by his biology 102 students. Hamilton asked why he would have a table with “God” and “demons” on it in a science class. Rissing responded that they were proper in a discussion of the history of conceptions of the causes of disease, along with discussion of the impact of technology (e.g., microscopes) on science.
Returning to the giraffe and woodpecker handouts, Hamilton asked whether it was appropriate to use that material in handouts if a student brought it in to Freshwater. No. Could an 8th grade science teacher “compare and contrast” information a student gave to him? Yes. Could he emphasize the difference between science and non-science? Yes.
(Hamilton is still working hard to make the case that Freshwater used creationist materials only to show that it’s bad science. As I noted some time ago, sooner or later his constituency will catch on and either abandon him or rationalize it as a necessary lie. My bet is on the latter.)
Hamilton asked about the best way to measure if students acquired the content of a class. Rissing replied that teachers are responsible for formative and summative assessments. Asked if examinations like the Ohio Achievement Test are good ways, Rissing replied that he was not familiar enough with the test to say.
Hamilton asked if Rissing’s understanding of “bias” is affected by the understanding of it in field research. I did not hear Rissing’s answer.
Hamilton asked if there is a significant difference between 8th graders and college students. Yes, Rissing replied, the latter are older. Asked if there is a difference their concrete and abstract thinking, Rissing replied that’s implicit in saying the latter are older.
Back to the giraffe and woodpecker handout source: Was the pamphlet Rissing identified found in Freshwater’s classroom? Doesn’t know. Do the handouts look like they were created by a public school teacher? No.
Has Rissing come across students who are biased against science? Yes. In 8th grade or college? Both. How does one overcome it? Again, I didn’t get Rissing’s answer in my notes. As I recall, it was a general ‘do your best to teach the science’ answer.
Hamilton asked how many hours Rissing had put into his duties regarding the academic content standards. He estimated 120 or so directly, with many more hours associated with his efforts to align the standards and introductory college-level biology courses. (Steve has a grand vision of an integrated K-12 and college science curriculum, with the elements at each level integrated with prior levels, and he’s been working for years to create it.)
Hamilton asked if Rissing knows that there were a number of special needs students in Freshwater’s classroom. No. Does Rissing agree that special needs students require a different style of teaching? Rissing replied that speaking as a professor, a reader of the pedagogical literature, and the parent of a special needs child, No.
Rissing agreed that it was OK to use current events in an 8th grade classroom. Hamilton asked of the Dover trial was a “hot button” topic. Rissing replied it was at the Department of Education and the State Board of Education.
Hamilton asked if a teacher correctly instructed the academic content standards would Rissing expect students to score above average on the OAT. Rissing replied not necessarily. Would he expect them to score “proficient.” Rissing replied that’s the cutoff imposed b the Department of Education.
Hamilton asked about the notion of the “learning cycle.” Rissing answered in terms of “guided discovery” as a teaching approach.
Finally, Hamilton returned to context, asking whether by looking at the documents, if they provide context about how they were used. Rissing replied no.
Millstone asked if a student prepared the woodpecker and giraffe handouts and gave them to Freshwater, would that affect Rissing’s opinion regarding the appropriateness of Freshwater using them in class. Rissing replied it would not, that it would be inappropriate on several grounds, including the lack of consistency with the “bias” benchmark. It’s inappropriate to take such materials from a student, distribute them to the class, and announce “Now I’m going to tell you about bias.” FERPA–the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act–got into the answer somehow, too, but I’m damned if I can figure out how from my notes.
Millstone asked if one has to know “context” in order to tell whether referring a student to AIG was appropriate with respect to the bias benchmark. Not in a public school, Rissing replied. Essentially no reference to AIG is appropriate in a grade 8 science class.
Hamilton asked if it was appropriate for a public school teacher to allow a student to go to the AIG site if the student asked to. Rissing replied that he had trouble understanding how that could be appropriate.
Hamilton asked of “bias” is based one’s prior experience and viewpoint. Rissing agreed it is. Hamilton asked if one’s bias affects the kinds of questions one asks, and Rissing agreed that it does.
Referring to Rissing’s repeated “That’s not what we intended” with respect to bias, Hamilton asked where in the standards it said what was intended. Rissing said the standards are cumulative, so … he was interrupted: Does Rissing agree that there are no words in the academic standards that state this. He agreed there were not. Does “bias” appear in the glossary associated with the standards? No.
Responding to Millstone’s question, Rissing said that the benchmarks and indicators are cumulative, interlocked, and interacting. (That gets the 7th grade benchmark on bias back into play.)
That ended Rissing’s testimony. I now return to Father Mark Hammond, priest of the local Catholic church, who testified in the middle of Patricia Princehouse’s testimony.
Hammond Direct Examination
Hammond testified that he spoke at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the spring of 2008, probably in April. Asked if he recalled who invited him to speak, he replied “Mr. Freshwater.” He said he had talked with Freshwater twice, once by phone once at a Care Net dinner. He said Freshwater invited him to speak one one or the other of those occasions. Whichever it was, he agreed to speak at FCA.
Millstone asked if Hammond was ever contacted by Jordan Freshwater. No. By Ben Neilson? No. By any student? No.
Millstone asked if he knew Freshwater before Freshwater called him. No. He has not spoken at FCA since April 2008.
Hamilton asked if Hammond knows Don Matolyak (Freshwater’s pastor). No. Was it possible that Matolyak introduced Hammond to Freshwater at the Care Net dinner? It’s possible.
Hamilton asked if Hammond kept written notes on his contacts with Freshwater. No. On when he spoke with Freshwater at the Care Net dinner? No. On the phone call? No.
Hamilton asked if it’s possible that a student spoke to him about speaking at FCA. No. Did Hammond speak with Marcia Orsborn about FCA? No.
Hamilton noted that Orsborn testified that she called the church and spoke to a lady. Hammond replied it had to have been one of two ladies who answer the phone. Asked if it was possible that a student called and talked to one of the ladies, Hammond replied it was possible but “I doubt it happened.”
Hamilton asked if Freshwater referred to his conversation with Marcia Orsborn. Not that he recalls.
Hamilton asked if the two office ladies at the church have access to Hammond’s calendar. No.
Hamilton then went through some statements Hammond made in a deposition on February 17, 2009, Hammond said that he basically talked about the Catholic faith and some its differences and similarities with other Christian denominations–_e.g._ the crucifix rather than an empty cross–in his appearance at FCA. He said he emphasized similarities–belief in the Resurrection, for example.
In the deposition he said he didn’t recall that students contacted him. He didn’t recall specifically how Freshwater introduced himself to Hammond. He said Freshwater did not tell him what to talk about at FCA. He said that Freshwater was present at the first of the three FCA sessions he spoke at that day. (Recall that the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade FCA groups met separately at different times during the lunch period.) He did not recall whether Freshwater prayed at that meeting.
Millstone asked if someone wanted to make an appointment with Hammond, would that person have to talk directly to Hammond. Yes.
That ended Hammond’s testimony. There is one rebuttal witness yet to hear, Superintendent Steve Short, who will testify on June 22 on what we all fervently hope will be the last day of the hearing. If it is, then by my count we will fall short of the Dover trial’s 40 day length by one day, though I don’t guarantee my count.