Creationist Wisdom #386: Louisiana Teacher

Today’s letter-to-the-editor (it’s actually a guest column) appears in the Shreveport Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s titled Creationism, a differing view.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians or otherwise in the public eye), so we usually omit the writer’s name and city. In this case, however, the writer is a fifth grade teacher named Charlotte Hinson. We’ll give you a few excerpts from her letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis.

First she mentions some earlier letters she doesn’t like, which advocate teaching evolution. She seems to think it’s a competing religion, at least that’s our understanding of this:

I am a fifth-grade teacher, and am appalled at how both of these authors’ viewpoints share a similar view of teaching evolution, a “higher power,” no matter who or what they may be, being taught in classrooms, yet leaving intelligent design and creation discussions out.

Instead of following that procedure, Charlotte tells us what she does:

Every year I have taught school, and I have taught in southern California, Nashville, Tenn., and here, kids are disturbed when they hear or read that we evolved from apes. Of course, I do NOT teach that, but it is written in books, and they see it on certain TV shows as well.

Egad, the kiddies are being exposed to the evil of evolution! How does this compassionate teacher deal with that problem? Charlotte says:

If children are disturbed by it, then we should address it, of course within our First Amendment rights and responsibilities, always saying, “Here is what I believe.”

Hey, that’s fantastic! As long as she’s careful to utter the magic words — “Here is what I believe” — there’s no constitutional problem with teaching creationism. See how simple it is? Let’s read on:

My students are brilliant. I teach at a magnet school, and in large numbers, they always, always say, “I didn’t come from an animal. God created me in a unique way; I matter more than an animal; I’m special.”

Fifth grade kids are what — 10 years old? And even at that young age, Charlotte’s students already know that evolution is nonsense. That’s wonderful! She continues:

As an educator, it is upsetting reading this article suggesting that we teach evolution as fact and “repeal” creationism. My job is to present both, tell what I personally believe, only because they ASK, and they always, always ASK, and let them decide, but I will never ever teach what goes against so many of these children’s beliefs, morals and what their parents have worked so hard to instill in their hearts.

Yes, as long as they ask, it’s okay to let ’em have it — Noah’s Ark all the way — and then let the kiddies decide. Charlotte is a model teacher. Here’s more:

God made science, and unlike many adults, these kids KNOW that. They impact others, as well as impact me, every single day because they know nothing in science is “accidental;” they’re wiser than that.

Louisiana kids are smart! And they’re even smarter after they have Charlotte for a teacher. Moving along:

[I]t is legally within any educator’s constitutional right to answer any child’s questions honestly, not with the intention to sway, but to be authentic.

Charlotte knows the Constitution. As long as she’s authentic when she teaches creationism, then it’s okay! Isn’t that known as the Freshwater doctrine? She concludes like this:

I have many friends who are Christian ethics attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and more who will be glad to remind you that if a child asks, you are free to respond.

Louisiana is fortunate to have such a wonderful teacher!

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25 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #386: Louisiana Teacher

  1. The insanely ignorant 5th-Grade teacher proudly proclaims

    “I didn’t come from an animal. God created me in a unique way; I matter more than an animal; I’m special.”

    There is no more definitive refutation of, say, a belief in ‘White Supremacy’ than the simple pointing at a knuckle-dragging White Supremacist. The Nazis who believed themselves to belong to a ‘Master Race’ were themselves the ultimate proof they were no such thing.

  2. This is a good example of the problem we have here in La La Land (it’s not just California any more!). I’ve been teaching college biology for 36 years and I have seen many good teachers who teach evolution as it is in the school curriculum and I have also seen a number of teachers who are dumber than dirt, and I have seen a few of the “True Believers.” I think most of our biology majors do not have a problem with evolution, but the “True Believers” always seem to be the most vocal. I would also guess that this teacher never came through my biology department. We all know that this is happening in various schools, particularly church-related schools, but there is little that can be done about it.

  3. Bloody hell! This person either needs a crash retraining course or to move into a different profession where she can do less damage. It is appalling that someone who so revels in destroying the education of those in her “care” should be allowed to continue to practice.

  4. realthog: “This person either needs a crash retraining course or……”
    Retraining wouldn’t do the trick since no amount of real biology would convince people like this teacher that evolution is real. When I was in grad school I had a professor who was adamant about biologists accepting the validity of evolution. He felt that if a biologist could not accept evolution, his/her Ph.D should be revoked. I kind of feel the same way, but it would be impossible to do. To get this teacher out of the classroom would probably require a lawsuit to be filed on behalf of a student that was offended by her use of religion in the classroom.

  5. This constitution-violating joke of a teacher should be fired immediately. “I didn’t come from an animal” ? She is an animal. Homo sapiens is classified thus: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Primates, Family Hominidae. Where did she go to school? Why can’t America’s public schools only hire the best & brightest? My Drool-o-tron
    just exploded with a shower of saliva.

  6. realthog exclaims: “Bloody hell! This person either needs a crash retraining course or to move into a different profession where she can do less damage.”

    But she’s being advised by “many friends who are Christian ethics attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and more” so she must know what she’s doing.

  7. She is a teacher at the Caddo Parish “Eden Gardens Fundamental Magnet” school run by the Caddo Parish School Board. Thus, it appears to be a public school.

  8. she’s being advised by “many friends who are Christian ethics attorneys

    Does anyone have any idea what a “Christian ethics attorney” actually is?

  9. realthog asks:

    Does anyone have any idea what a “Christian ethics attorney” actually is?

    I don’t, but I’m sure that the Louisiana Bar Association has a vigorous section for such specialists. Sooner or later, everyone needs to hire one.

  10. A “Christian ethics attorney” is an oxymoron, that’s what it is.

  11. First: “…kids are disturbed when they hear or read that we evolved from apes. Of course, I do NOT teach that…”

    And then: “…and let them decide, but I will never ever teach what goes against so many of these children’s beliefs, morals and what their parents have worked so hard to instill in their hearts.”

    How on FSM’s green Earth does she let them decide the validity of something she does not teach?

    I’d like to hear her opinion on letting kids decide on the best method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

  12. My eight year old knows that she’s not only descended from apes, but that she IS an ape (besides acting like a poorly trained chimpanzee most of the time).

  13. Mark Germano says: “I’d like to hear her opinion on letting kids decide on the best method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.”

    Why would she have any opinion? Things like that don’t happen in Louisiana.

  14. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that this person ended up in Louisiana!
    And I am sure she knows that we are one of the “Great Apes” which wouldn’t be called “great” were the category not to include Homos.

  15. Ah, but remember, she, and every LA teacher, have Bobby Jindal’s blessings to teach creationism in the schools.

  16. James St. John asks, “Why can’t America’s public schools only hire the best & brightest?”

    Perhaps it has something to do with what local school districts are willing to pay teachers. In many school districts, especially in the South, starting teachers qualify for food stamps — and that’s with a Bachelor’s Degree.

    Of course, paying teachers more is no guarantee that you’ll wind up with smarter teachers, but it will broaden the pool of applicants that districts can choose from. The problem is, no one wants to pay higher taxes, so teacher pay remains at or near the bottom for professions or occupations requiring a Bachelor’s Degree.

    Court-ordered desegregation in the South exacerbated the problem for public schools. Whites fled the public schools for private and religious schools, leaving the public schools predominantly black. The politicians, being predominantly white, were not about to pour their tax money into public schools that their own children didn’t attend, and we see the result.

    Do not misinterpret what I’m saying — in no way am I implying that schools should not be racially integrated. I’m merely stating the observed consequence of public school desegregation in the South.

  17. Most 5th graders will be 11-12 years old and (in a good school) starting to learn basic Earth Sciences. The topic of evolution generally comes along later when kids are introduced to biology. This probably isn’t even a subject in 5th grade science, therefore she is just indoctrinating the kids to her beliefs.

    Hello ALCU? Did you see this one??

  18. Tomato Addict says: “Hello ALCU? Did you see this one??”

    They won’t waste their time. This teacher is too smart, and she’s been well coached by Christian ethics attorneys. She knows the magic formula for bypassing the Constitution. All she has to do, in response to li’l Susy’s question about whether she comes from an animal, is reply as follows:

    That’s a brilliant question, and I’m so glad you asked me, li’l Susy! As you know, I would never teach such a thing. I want you to decide for yourself. Here is what I believe. I do this not with the intention to sway, but to be authentic. [Then follows an hour-long sermon on Genesis.]

  19. @TA: Actually, 5th grade would be mostly 10-yr.-olds, but your point is valid — evolution would most likely not be in the 5th grade curriculum. Moreover, from the name of her school — “Eden Gardens Fundamental Magnet” — my guess would be they don’t come anywhere near teaching evolution. “Eden”? “Fundamental”? That looks like code to me for a safe place for creationist parents to send their kiddies. No wonder so many of her students are already indoctrinated with “I ain’t no kin to no monkey!”

    For the record, Earth Sciences were part of the 7th grade curriculum in the district where I taught in Ohio, and definitely included evolution as evidenced by the fossil record.

  20. Holding the Line in Florida

    Down here in Florida, we start teaching Evolution in the 7th Grade. I am just beginning the topic now. Our text book is all messed up in my opinion in the structure of the lessons and the depth of the material. So I do it my way!! I start with DNA, then go to heredity and then go with Darwin and his journey to his understanding of Natural Selection and what we know today, all the time acknowledging the genius of Darwin. Our book starts with Darwin and then goes to DNA and heredity and then extinction. I think it makes more sense to the kids and it also prepares them to understand how evolution works the way I do it. I also talk about Sexual Selection, the kids love that, and how it works and how Darwin included it as well. This isn’t covered, of course, in our book!! I also include the NOVA show What Darwin Never Knew at the end of the lessons. I include Extinction events and how they are also key to the evolutionary process by dividing the classes into 6 groups and assigning them one event to report on to the class. The sixth is the current one. At the end, of the 9 weeks, we have a individual presentation on an insect concentrating on the adaptations it has for survival in its environment. I proudly proclaim “I TEACH EVOLUTION!!!!!”

  21. @ Holding the Line in Florida

    Thank you for your efforts, it sounds like a great way to approach the subject. Do you ever get any pushback from parents, other teachers, or the school board? Just from news, polls, etc., I get the impression that the Louisiana teacher’s methods are far more common than yours, but perhaps we just don’t hear enough about the legitimate science teachers.

  22. @Holding the Line in Fla.: Bravo!! You sound like the teacher I hoped to be — your curriculum sounds great!

    Besides the obvious speeding of evolution caused by animals selecting mates based on their characteristics (sexual selection), sexual reproduction itself speeds evolutionary adaptation by its mix-and-match of billions of genes. Didn’t sexual reproduction first show up just before the beginning of the Cambrian? Do you think that may have had something to do with the Cambrian Explosion?

    I made a point of showing all episodes of David Attenborough’s “Life on Earth” series. Although it’s getting a bit old now (produced in 1979, I think), it does a beautiful job of illustrating the progression of evolution through all geological ages. Since each episode is about an hour, I spread the series out through the school year, and showed them in order. A thoughtful person watching the entire series would have a difficult time arguing against evolution. It should be required viewing by all school board members (as well as all state legislators), and by all regulars here on Curmy’s blog. So, get to your library and check out the DVD; search it out on YouTube; or better yet (to support Attenborough), buy the DVD set at Amazon or wherever. You’ll love it — even if you have already seen each episode about 20 times, as I have. I saw something new that I had missed before each time I watched it.

  23. Here’s the second episode of Life on Earth on YouTube. It’s 53 min long, but if you don’t have time to watch it all, watch just the first few minutes.

  24. Holding the Line in Florida

    So far I haven’t had any real opposition in my school or district. We have our own Fundy School with A-Beka books sponsored by our local mega church where the hard core can go. There has been a few skirmishes, pray meetings at the flag pole, First Priority Clubs, Fellowship of Christian Athletes but nothing serious. Did have one parent ask me about ID to which I asked him who the IDer was. Perhaps the aliens or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? That pretty much shut him up. Some of our teachers are hard core, but they don’t teach science and don’t try to convert me. My opinions are well known and being a career Infantry Sergeant they don’t mess with me!!
    By the way, the comments on the article in question are wonderful. Charlotte makes a comeback and declares that her kids and parents simply love her and all the negative comments are not called for! She does have plenty of back-up.

  25. Update on this story: Creationism letter spurs a call for investigation

    A letter to The Times has prompted the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to ask the Caddo Parish School Board to investigate whether any of its teachers are illegally teaching creationism.

    The letter that appeared on the editorial page was from a woman who identified herself as a fifth-grade teacher. She said she presents both evolution and creationism and, when asked, tells her students her beliefs.