Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Full Court Press

John Freshwater, in a move that will surprise no one, has sued the Mount Vernon City School District for various violations of his constitutional rights, including freedom of speech.

A quick skim of the complaint shows that he is alleging pretty much the same claims he's made during the course of the administrative hearings as documented by Richard B. Hoppe at The Panda's Thumb.

Some interesting things that Richard may have mentioned but I missed are claims that the Board had a policy allowing religious and moral references in "instructional and resource materials approved for use in the District's schools" to be employed by teachers as long as they are "neutral" in their approach to them. It's not clear if he is claiming that his creationist handouts and an extra credit assignment involving Expelled fit under that provision.

The suit may also be claiming that teaching creationism and the project involving Expelled fits under the curriculum's requirement of explaining the importance of reproducibility and the reduction of bias in science.

I'm hoping to have an OCRed pdf file of the complaint tomorrow and anyone who wants a copy should leave an email address in the comments.

Aw, crap. Hadn't heard from him in awhile so I was hoping he'd crawled under a rock. I grew up in Mt. V and it didn't seem that crazy when I was there. Sigh.
The whole country didn't seem that crazy before Nixon and then Reagan made that unholy alliance with the Righteous Right.
The district had (and still has, AFAIK) a policy on the handling of controversial issues in the classroom, and perhaps also another one specifically on religious matters. I'll see if I can get copies of those policies. They've come up in Hamilton's questions a number of times.
Since I have the complaint OCRed now, here is the entire allegation (para. 60):

Defendant Board's policy concerning and titled, "Religion in the Classroom" further states in part:

"The Board acknowledges the degree to which a religious consciousness has permeated the arts, literature, music, and issues of morality. The instructional and resource materials approved for use in the District's schools frequently contain religious references or concern moral issues that have traditionally been the focus of religious concern. That such materials may be religious in nature shall not, by itself, bar their use in the District. The Board directs that professional staff members employing such materials be neutral in their approach and avoid using them to advance or inhibit religion in any way."

There are excerpts from the policy in the complaint. I've asked my wife (who teaches in the district) to get the full policy. There's something strange about citing the religious neutrality language in the context of a science classroom, as the complaint does, and I want to look at that more closely when I'm awake.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .


How to Support Science Education