White House releases Obama’s speech to schoolkids 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — As expected (by rational people), President Barack Obama will talk at noon today to students about overcoming hardships, staying on track, going to school, doing their work, and making a difference for their communities and their nation. He even says, “God bless you and God bless America.” I’ve read the text released ahead of time by the White House. I can’t find any socialist, Marxist, or any other kind of pernicious indoctrination. It’s not bombastic. It’s not demagoguery. In fact, he says exactly what he said he would say. So why were people upset again?

Injured student sues controversial mid-Ohio teacher

The saga of John Freshwater, part XII … While Freshwater’s superiors at the Mount Vernon schools dither, the family of one of his students have resorted to the all-American method of getting to the root of things — they’re suing him and the school district. The suit claims that Freshwater violated the student’s civil rights by allegedly burning a cross into his arm with a Tesla coil and and that his superiors were negligent in not disciplining Freshwater. The school district hired an outsider to investigate the allegations against Freshwater, an otherwise popular seventh-grade science teacher. That report is due Friday, at which time the school board will make some decision about Freshwater’s future, supposedly. Freshwater made a name for himself earlier last year by refusing to remove his Bible from his desk. Christians loved his “Christ’s warrior” decision, but civil libertarians demurred. It then came out that Freshwater was a bit of a religious nut, proselytizing students, teaching creationism, and on at least one instance, burning a cross on a student’s arm with a Tesla coil. That apparently woke up his superiors from their overly cautious slumber. They put an observer in his classroom while the independent investigators did ...

Religious “minutemen” pressure mid-Ohio school board

Meanwhile, in Mount Vernon, Ohio, a group calling itself the “Minutemen” is pushing the local school board to explain why a 7th grade science teacher cannot keep a Bible on his desk, or it will “recall” school board members. School officials say the matter is still under consideration. The teacher in question is John Freshwater, a popular but controversial teacher, who has refused his superiors’ demands that he remove his Bible from students’ view. Freshwater is also under investigation for allegedly burning a cross on a student’s arm, for disseminating religious literature during class, and for proselytizing students. The Minutemen are undoubtedly affiliated with another Christian nutcase up there, “Coach” Dave Daubenmire, who quickly came to Freshwater’s support after the Bible incident. Daubenmire supports a rightwing Christian group, the Minutemen Unlimited. In a letter to school officials, the Mount Vernon Minutemen say they will replace the school board if the school system does not announce its supports the Bible. “Although we do not want this to be taken as a threat, we feel it is only right that we inform you that if a public statement is not made in support of the Bible by June 10 we will have ...

Ohio science teacher had religious agenda, colleague says

Mount Vernon teacher John Freshwater is in hot water because he teaches religion a little bit too much in his eighth grade science classes. A former colleague says his superiors knew of Freshwater’s religious agenda, but have done little about it until recently. Freshwater first hit the news several days ago when school officials told him to remove his Bible from clear view of his students. The teacher refused, prompting both a student rally supporting him and an advisory notice from the American Civil Liberties Union supporting school administrators. The religious Right seized the controversy as another attack on religion. Then other details about Freshwater’s classroom behavior came to light. He keeps a stack of Bibles in his room to loan out to students. He passes out pro-creationist literature to counter scientific explanations of the Big Bang and evolution. He allegedly burned a cross on at least one student’s arm as part of a demonstration of electricity. He taught his classes the meaning of Good Friday and Easter. Freshwater has had a religious agenda for some time. Quoting a former colleague, Retired middle school science teacher Jeff George, the Mount Vernon News reported yesterday: George said there may be substance ...

Parsing the Expelled Leader’s Guide, last part 3

I realize I have spent an inordinate amount of time and space critiquing the Leader’s Guide for Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, but a careful examination of this so-called resource is valuable. Parsing it allows me to address the fallacies and inconsistencies inherent in the movie, which opens Friday. So far, I have examined the Guide’s own presentations of the scientific “proof” against and cultural consequences of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Guide — typical of many anti-evo websites — takes quotes out of context, misquotes, repeats factual errors, ignores standard rules of logical argumentation and in general provides no scientific basis for the claim that Intelligent Design is a viable scientific theory. The end of the Guide its readers a list of sources to read, and suggests “talking points” for discussion leaders, pastors and teachers to use. The source list is hopelessly biased toward only one side of the so-called debate. Under normal circumstances, a reference guide would include the major works on both sides of an issue. In this case, though the Guide quotes them several times, neither Darwin’s The Origin of Species or The Descent of Man are on the suggested reading list. Nor is any modern resource, ...
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