The Ballad of John Freshwater finally ends

JISHOU, HUNAN — Like the fabled “Song That Never Ends,” the story of John Freshwater, a middle school Ohio science teacher bent on proselytizing his students, seems to have gone on and on and on … The end is this: he will be dismissed from his teaching job at the Mount Vernon public schools. Actually, that’s the same ending as before, but he was entitled to an administrative hearing, which dragged on for almost two years. In a decision released this week, the referee for the hearing agreed with the school district, and said, “Yup, Freshwater is out.” John Freshwater purposely used his classroom to advance his Christian religious views knowing full well or ignoring the fact that those views might conflict with the private beliefs of his students. John Freshwater refused and/or failed to employ objectivity in his instruction of a variety of science subjects and, in so doing, endorsed a particular religious doctrine. By this course of conduct John Freshwater repeatedly violated the Establishment Clause. Without question, the repeated violation of the Constitution of The United States is a “fairly serious matter” and is, therefore, a valid basis for termination of John Freshwater’s contract(s). Further, he repeatedly acted ...

That evangelical Ohio science guy

John Freshwater had his first day of an administrative hearing today, to determine whether he should keep his job. The Panda’s Thumb has a detailed account, if you’re interested.

Catching up on the news Stateside

JISHOU, HUNAN — Last spring, I was following the case of one John Freshwater, an Ohio science teacher accused of proselytizing his seventh-graders a little too zealously. Freshwater was relieved of his duties when an unnamed student and his parents filed suit, charging Freshwater with civil rights violations. Freshwater allegedly burned a cross on the student’s arm with a Tesla coil, a common science lab demo device that generally should be kept far from human flesh. (I speak from personal experience.) Anyway, this teacher, who subscribes to some kind of wacko right-wing Christianity, wants the names of the student and his parents made public. In a town where folks are already polarized over Freshwater’s “I will keep a Bible in the classroom no matter what” crusade, revealing the names of the family would be tantamount to inviting people to burn crosses in their front yard. Yeah, it’s that bad in mid-Ohio. Land of the free, and all that. Ed Brayton at Scienceblogs has the gory details.

Parents criticize, defend mid-Ohio science teacher at board meeting 1

Seventh-grade science teacher John Freshwater has his supporters, but his religious agenda in the classroom has clearly not won over everyone in Mount Vernon, Ohio. At a school board meeting Monday night, he had as many friends as foes in the audience. Freshwater made headlines several weeks ago when he refused to remove his Bible from his classroom desk. Soon, there were allegations that he was preaching religion in class, distributing creationist literature to his science students, and that he allegedly burned a cross on a student’s arm with an electrical device. The school district has hired an independent investigator to substantiate or refute the allegations. Freshwater was allowed to continue teaching meanwhile, with an administrative observer in the classroom to monitor him. The device he allegedly used to burn the student is in fact a hand-held Tesla coil, a staple of science education. My students have seen it in action. It can generate high voltage arcs a few centimeters long when held near a ground. While the sparks are not lethal, they can cause pinpoint skin burns that can be pretty painful. I speak from experience. It boggles the mind why any teacher would subject a student to a ...
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