Saturday, June 21, 2008

What Not to Do If You're a Public School Science Teacher


(CNN) -- School administrators in Ohio voted Friday to begin the process of firing a middle school teacher accused of burning a cross into a student's arm and refusing to keep his religious beliefs out of the classroom.

I guess I'm not sure why school administrators have to go through a "process." I think the school district would be safe letting him go. The "dude burned a cross into a kid's arm" argument should hold up in court. Branding aside, this teacher has a history:

Freshwater was also reprimanded several times for refusing to move his Bible from his classroom desk and teaching creationism alongside evolution, according to the 15-page independent report. The report also cites evidence that Mr. Freshwater told his students that "science is wrong because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin and so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and is therefore a sinner."

Personally, I don't think the Bible on the desk is a big deal; I could let that go. Teaching creationism alongside evolution should be cause for a special meeting of the school board, or at least a good, long talk with school administrators. The gay comment is grounds for suspension. The branding incident, especially given the teacher's history, calls for a "security will escort you to your car" response.

Though I believe fully in the separation of church and state (for the sake of the church as much as for the sake of the state), I don't think we can reasonably tell public school teachers and public officials to pretend that they aren't people of faith while they're on the job. That said, I'm not sure how anyone could argue that the science teacher in question didn't take a Carl Lewis long jump across the proverbial line.


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