John Freshwater Update (20 Jul ‘11)

This horrible mess continues to drag on. Our first post about it was more than three years ago: Creationist Science Teacher John Freshwater is Fired.

But it didn’t end there. The creationist launched an administrative hearing to determine whether he should be fired. 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.

For various reasons, including the presentation of irrelevant issues, but mostly due to numerous scheduling recesses, the hearing lasted more than two years. Along the way there were also a couple of court cases, but Freshwater lost one of those and dismissed the other, so the excessively prolonged administrative matter was all that remained.

Our second-to-last update was six months ago: John Freshwater Case: Probably Finished. The interminable administrative hearing ended with a recommendation that the school board should terminate Freshwater, which they did. We thought it was over — at last.

But as happens in those zombie movies, the thing rose again and we wrote: WorldNetDaily Supports John Freshwater, to report that Freshwater was appealing his termination.

So where are we now? The best reporting on this case is by Richard B. Hoppe at Panda’s Thumb. His latest article is Freshwater: ODE Admonishment Withdrawn. That’s where you want to go, but before you leave we’ll give you a bit of news.

In the Columbus Dispatch we read State pulls negative letter from Freshwater’s file; Fired science teacher also has had his license renewed. The headline tells the story, and you can get the rest at Panda’s Thumb, but here are a couple of brief excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The Ohio Department of Education has removed its letter of admonishment from the disciplinary file of a fired Mount Vernon science teacher while it considers a legal challenge.

The Virginia-based Rutherford Institute told the department this month that John Freshwater was denied his due-process rights when the state rebuked him for using an electrical device to burn students’ arms. The institute said Freshwater was not given the opportunity to defend himself before the admonishment was issued.

Poor guy, he never had a chance to defend himself. Let’s read on:

Freshwater said he wants to return to teaching but has been unable to land a job.

“I’ve come across several times where positions have been available and I was refused the position,” Freshwater said yesterday. “Obviously, I’ve been affected by the litigation, all the negative publicity. … I want to go back to teaching and to put my Bible back in the corner of my desk.

If you haven’t yet thrown up your breakfast, our last excerpt should do it for you:

As for allegations that Freshwater taught creationism over evolution, she said, “I think it’s a great teacher who encourages his students to think critically about everything they are taught.”

Okay, dear reader. If you want to read more about “The Case That Will Not Die,” you can read the whole article in the Columbus Dispatch and you can read Richard’s article at Panda’s Thumb. We’re outta here!

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “John Freshwater Update (20 Jul ‘11)

  1. You know the LA Unified School District has only fired SEVEN teachers for incompetence in the last ten years? John Freshwater is not an outlier.

  2. Persecution complex – with an eye out for a little $. They don’t make martyrs like they used to.

  3. The Virginia-based Rutherford Institute told the department this month that John Freshwater was denied his due-process rights when the state rebuked him for using an electrical device to burn students’ arms.

    Nobody working in the real world gets this ridiculous level of due process. He burns crosses into kids arms and it is UNFAIR to “rebuke” him!?!?eleventy!!?!

  4. techreseller

    I did not know where else to put this. This should be a separate post. Is this great or what?

  5. One more chunk of evidence supporting my contention that government run schools should be phased out with all due haste.

    In a related story from USA Today:

    Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security at theEnvironmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations.

    The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes.

  6. @techreseller:

    I support the Pastafarians, and the gentleman’s right to wear kitchen utensils on his head – but I won’t be eating over his house any time soon. And to all practicing Renandstimpifarians (you know who you are), Happy Yak Shaving Day!

  7. The fine print is that the Letter of Admonition was removed temporarily pending yet another review.

    I’ve asked myself, I’ve said, “Self, how come this nut don’t just go out and find a nice church school or do some homeschool tutoring where he could openly teach how Noah built a dinosaur-laden, irreducibly complex ark and saved all the animals while Darwin drowned in the Flood. Huh, how come?”

    The answer is obvious. Freshwater doesn’t want to just teach the controversy, he wants to be the controversy. Can’t stick it to the Man if you ain’t working for the Man! King Kong didn’t climb a little ole church steeple; he climbed the Empire Godless Left-wing State Building, by gum!

    Now, which public middle school in Ohio want’s to live on the wild side? Come on, step up! Entertainment, thrills and spills await!

  8. Freshwater states “I think it’s a great teacher who encourages his students to think critically about everything they are taught.” I wonder if he feels the same way about religious dogma.

  9. Doc Bill, I like the cut of your jib. You need to start a blog of your own.

  10. I tried, Magpie, but the acid ate through my keyboard.

  11. aturingtest

    I’m really beginning to hate that phrase “critical thinking”. Creationists have co-opted those words as their buzz-phrase, applying it only to evolution (and, I guess to some extent, to global warming and whatever else they may be in denial of). If they won’t apply it to their own teaching, then it’s obvious that they don’t really understand what the words mean. But the phrase sounds cool, doesn’t it?
    Fifteen year old kid in biology class: ” I’ll now apply Critical Thinking (TM) to this subject that I know nothing about, and that I am, in fact, here to learn in the first place. Being a student, and ignorant by definition, doesn’t matter as long as you have Critical Thinking (TM) on your side.”

  12. I want to go back to teaching and to put my Bible back in the corner of my desk.“

    Yeah, because that’s what every prospective employer wants to hear in a job interview:
    “So tell us, John, why do you want to work for us?”
    “So I can put a bible on the corner of my desk.”

  13. @aturingtest:that phrase “critical thinking”. Creationists have co-opted those words

    Coopted previously by postmodernists. If something is written by a white male, critical thinking tells you how the work is a tool of the patriarchy to oppress women and minorities. If it is written by a woman or a person of color, it is unvarnished truth, not to be questioned or investigated or held to The Man’s racist and sexist standards of “facts” and “logic”.

    In a passage reminiscent of a notorious feminist description of Newton’s Principia (a “rape manual”), Irigaray argues that E=mc2 is a “sexed equation”. Why? Because “it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us” (my emphasis of what I am rapidly coming to learn is an ‘in’ word). Just as typical of this school of thought is Irigaray’s thesis on fluid mechanics. Fluids, you see, have been unfairly neglected. “Masculine physics” privileges rigid, solid things. Her American expositor Katherine Hayles made the mistake of re-expressing Irigaray’s thoughts in (comparatively) clear language. For once, we get a reasonably unobstructed look at the emperor and, yes, he has no clothes:

    “The privileging of solid over fluid mechanics, and indeed the inability of science to deal with turbulent flow at all, she attributes to the association of fluidity with femininity. Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids… From this perspective it is no wonder that science has not been able to arrive at a successful model for turbulence. The problem of turbulent flow cannot be solved because the conceptions of fluids (and of women) have been formulated so as necessarily to leave unarticulated remainders.”

    You do not have to be a physicist to smell out the daffy absurdity of this kind of argument (the tone of it has become all too familiar), but it helps to have Sokal and Bricmont on hand to tell us the real reason why turbulent flow is a hard problem: the Navier-Stokes equations are difficult to solve.

  14. Gabriel Hanna says: “[critical thinking] Coopted previously by postmodernists.”

    I’m immediately skeptical when some group coins its own terms for concepts that are already well-understood. We have long known what “logical” thinking is, and what the scientific method is. Critical thinking is therefore a new thing in contrast to the already-existing terms, and that means it’s not what the existing terms describe.

    I felt the same way when Jimmy Carter started babbling about “human rights” when there was already the well-understood concept of “individual rights.” Hint: “human rights” — whatever they are — are never described as including property rights.

  15. DI is appropriating the work of the postmodernists–that science is just one more way in which a dominant class invents a narrative to justify its domination. They lifted these arguments directly from academia, and quite deliberately; they are trying to use academia’s own positions against it and force the academia to acknowlege that “intelligent design” is a narrative of a class of people that is being oppressed, as valid as any other.

  16. Logical thinking is a sign of being a rapist.

    Click to access bb4ff4c3aff9d3b2450c44e9ec2f28f1.pdf

  17. I’m reminded of the technical writers’ guild conference/convention I went to in Washington DC as far back as 1995. A publisher of style guides and writers’ manuals had a display of its wares, among them a handbook on non-sexist, inclusive language for a company’s documentation group. I leafed through it, and what stuck with me all these years was the inclusion of “Mother Nature” in the list of terms that should never be used. Maybe a case could be made with something to do with “stereotypes,” but that wasn’t the approach here. No, the logic was that the term associated nature with women, women are raped, so usage of the term implied that nature could be raped and violated at will and thus promoted destruction of the environment. “This is madness,” I thought, and put the book down.

  18. @Deklane: What has always irked me is the deprecation of “he” as an impersonal pronoun, on grounds that it’s sexist.

    First, it’s no more sexist to use “he” as an impersonal pronoun than it is for a German to refer to a table as “she” but a garden as “he”, or for Germans to use “sie” for “she”, “they” and the formal “you”. Almost every European language has gendered nouns and many languages use the same word to refer to more than one concept.

    For example, suppose I write “A pilot should know how to operate his plane”, Many people would assume from this sentence that I must think that all pilots are, or should be male. But I am using a word, “he”, that has more than one meaning, and my intended meaning of “pronoun for an unspecified person” is signaled by my saying “a pilot” rather than naming an specific pilot. Other words in the sentence have two meanings–no one would accuse me of thinking that pilots need to know how to use a wood smoothing tool and thus that I must think a pilot is kind of carpenter. (Well, on the internet maybe somebody would.) It’s hard for me to believe that such a reading is not willful.

    Second, to think that using pronouns in this way encourages further sexism is based on the discredited Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that language determines thought.

  19. Read belle hooks (her ee cummings capitalization, not mine) or Sandra Harding if you want real head-spinning. Science is rape by its very essence. It must be my enormous inner hostility towards women that caused me to pursue science as a career.

    Linguistic funnies: the French word for penis is feminine. The French word for vagina is masculine. What should I make of that?

  20. This is new news, too. I knew his house and some acreage was on the market, and it sold last month (June) for $270K.

    To pay legal fees, Freshwater said he’s sold his home on several acres to a former student. He now lives with his wife and daughter in a Mount Vernon rental.

    Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s lawyer, got a big chunk of that.

  21. Poor guy. He had to sell his house, and all because he wanted to have a bible on his desk.