Freshwater Going to Ohio Supreme Court

It’s hard to believe, but the case of John Freshwater is still going on. Freshwater was an 8th-grade science teacher in Ohio who was accused of burning a cross on a student with a Tesla coil, teaching religion in his science class, and failing to follow the school district’s orders. Freshwater claimed that the district wanted to fire him only because he refused to remove a bible from his desk.

He was fired from his teaching job four years ago, and he’s been litigating the situation ever since. Our last post on this topic was John Freshwater Update (05 Oct ‘11).

In the Columbus Dispatch we read Ohio Supreme Court agrees to hear creationism appeal. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal filed by a Mount Vernon teacher fired for teaching creationism and religious doctrine in his middle-school science classroom. The announcement was released today.

Freshwater lost at every step along the way, but he keeps on plugging away. The news story continues:

John Freshwater claims his rights to free speech and academic freedom were violated when he was fired by the Mount Vernon school board in January 2011 following allegations that he failed to remove religious materials from his classroom and burned crosses on students’ arms during science experiments.

Free speech. Academic freedom. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Let’s read on:

This Court must intervene if students and teachers in America’s public schools are to remain free to engage in open, respectful dialogue about competing academic theories and their respective merits. Nowhere is such freedom more crucial than in a science classroom, where the asking and answering of questions is the very basis of the universally acknowledged “scientific method,” Freshwater’s attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton argued in his request for the court to hear the case.

Yes, competing theories — science vs. Oogity Boogity! Let the students decide.

There’s not much else to the news story other than rehashing each side’s position, but now we know the state’s Supreme Court will get involved. Maybe they think they’ll put an end to this madness. But even if they write a smashing decision, the madness will never end.

Addendum: Richard B. Hoppe has just posted about this at Panda’s Thumb, and as usual, his posts are the most informative. So take a look at Freshwater: Ohio Supreme Court accepts F’water’s appeal on two Propositions of Law.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Freshwater Going to Ohio Supreme Court

  1. I’m sorry, but in a sane country this would be a 30 second conversation: “You deliberately burned a child in your care. You don’t work here any more”.

  2. Curmie is FAR too kind about this . First I was amazed at this post. Then, it occurred to me that one must be really dogmatic and despicable human being to continually try to
    jam his religion down everyone’s gullets.
    On to the Supreme Court and another loss for this guy. If he thinks ID is science, it’s hopeless
    to reason with him and the ruling will put
    another nail in the creationism ghoul’s casket.
    I bet Freshwater has a flat top. And I’ll also bet
    his church is a lot of fun to be around.

  3. The saddest thing about this case was one of the posts on Panda’s Thumb, reporting an ex-student’s testimony at Freshwater’s hearing. The student used to trust science, but he concluded “Science can’t teach us anything.”

    That’s worse than burning a kid’s arm. The physical burn healed in a couple weeks. But that kid will be dumb forever. Thanks Freshwater!

  4. Will the Discoveroids break their silence now?

  5. Diogenes: “The saddest thing about this case was one of the posts on Panda’s Thumb, reporting an ex-student’s testimony at Freshwater’s hearing. The student used to trust science, but he concluded ‘Science can’t teach us anything’.”

    The scariest part is that that appears to be the case for the majority of nonscientists these days, including most who have no problem with evolution, though are nevertheless susceptible to misleading sound bites like “the jury’s still out.”

    Not to defend Freshwater one bit, but IMO the whole education system (public and private) is broken. It would not surprise me that he wins this, and that it will be the beginning of the end for public education.

  6. Frank – when deciding which system is more broken, consider that the system firing him is the public one, and the system in which he’ll have no problem getting a job teaching creationism is the private one.

  7. @eric: A false equivalence: there is no “private system”. It’s like saying that if a man leaves the Catholic church he’ll go join the “Protestant Church”, when there is no such thing.

    There are thousands of individual private schools, none of which takes your money by force. He can teach creationism to idiots who waste their own money on it. But when Federal guidelines gut math standards the whole country suffers and we all have to pay for it

  8. @eric,

    IMO they’re all broken. I have heard, however, that, on average, private schools teach evolution more thoroughly than public ones, and thus result in more acceptance. The caveat is that what I have heard is mostly anecdotal, with little hard data. I understand that it’s not easy to get the hard data, but frustratingly, few people even care to get it. They’d rather obsess over fundamentalists.

    If Freshwater teaches at a fundamentalist school, he will be misleading few if any students that haven’t already been brainwashed. He’ll probably be teaching Genesis literalism as “fact,” and devoting little if any time to misrepresenting evolution. Rather, evolution will at most be given a token mention, as phlogiston theory is given in chemistry class. It is the misrepresenting of evolution, and the censoring of the refutations of those misrepresentations, to students who have not yet been brainwashed, that I find to be morally reprehensible, regardless of who pays for it, and regardless of whether or not it is Constitutional.

    The scam artists know that it’s not Constitutional to teach Genesis as science in public schools. But they also know that it’s 100% Constitutional to teach its designer-free testable claims – the “what happened when” part of the mutually contradictory YEC and OEC stories. Yet most don’t dare do that (Freshwater apparenty did at first, but then was coached by more savvy scam artists). That’s because they know that if students critically analyze those claims they will at best find them far “weaker” than evolution. The “mutually contradictory” status alone will cause many students to reject them all.

  9. In California a teacher convicted of 23 counts of child molestation had to be paid $40,000 because it was far too difficult to fire him (cf John Freshwater).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/mark-berndt-miramonte_n_1268537.html

    SB1530 would have streamlined the process of firing teachers who molest students, but it was lobbied against by the California Teachers Association, and was voted down by the Assembly.

    http://www.sbsun.com/editorial/ci_21014106/california-teachers-unions-should-be-ashamed

    Credit goes to the Assembly members who ignored the scare tactics and voted for the bill: committee Chairwoman Julia Brownley, a Santa Monica Democrat, and Republicans Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, Linda Halderman of Fresno, Chris Norby of Fullerton and Donald Wagner of Irvine.

    And shame on the Democrats who either voted no – Tom Ammiano of San Francisco and Joan Buchanan of Alamo – or abstained – Mike Eng of Monterey Park and Das Williams of Santa Barbara.

  10. This is the latest strategy of the Dishonesty Institute, freedom of speech and academic freedom. They sound like great soundbites, and people, judges, and legislatures take note of them. In this case it’s really a farce, but look how far it’s gotten Freshwater. We all know it’s about teaching creationism, but they’re coming in through the back door; it’s the wedge strategy in all its ugly form.

  11. DavidK: “This is the latest strategy of the Dishonesty Institute, freedom of speech and academic freedom.”

    So a Discoveroid making any public comment about Freshwater, positive or negative must be the proverbial “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”

  12. @DavidK:. In this case it’s really a farce, but look how far it’s gotten Freshwater.

    Freshwater could never have got this far if teachers in Ohio did not have insane levels of process for egregious conduct violations. A private company can usually fire you at will.

    As long as the government is in the business of providing education it will ever be thus.

    There are lots of people who think that the Catholic Church is irrevocably condemned for the sexual abuse of children in its care by priests. And yet, according to the Department of Education, roughly 10% of students 8 – 11th grade are abused by educators. And there is no corresponding level of condemnation.