Yesterday’s New York Times describes the case of John Freshwater, an Ohio teacher who was suspended for prosyletizing in the science classroom, and for burning crosses into his students’ arms as a demonstration of electricity. The final verdict on his case, which has gone on for nearly two years, will be handed down tomorrow.
Mr. Freshwater, an eighth-grade public school science teacher, is accused of burning a cross onto the arms of at least two students and teaching creationism, charges he says have been fabricated because he refused an order by his principal to remove a Bible from his desk. . .
In a radio interview in 2008, he said he had been a target for removal since 2003, when he proposed that the school board adopt a policy to teach evolution as theory, not proven scientific fact. “I ruffled some feathers,” he said. . .
One high school teacher said she consistently had to reteach evolution to Mr. Freshwater’s students because they did not master the basics. Another testified that Mr. Freshwater told his students they should not always take science as fact, citing as an example a study that posited the possibility of a gene for homosexuality.“Science is wrong,” Mr. Freshwater was reported as saying, “because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, and so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and is therefore a sinner.”
A third teacher testified that Mr. Freshwater advised students to refer to the Bible for additional science research.
School officials said Mr. Freshwater’s science classroom was adorned with at least four copies of the Ten Commandments and several other posters that included verses from Scripture.
If these assertions are true (and they were verified by witnesses), then that’s enough for me. Freshwater must go unless he deep-sixes religion in the classroom.
And what about those crosses?
Mr. Freshwater, who declined to be interviewed, has said he did not mean to burn a cross on any student’s arm. Instead, he said he intended to leave a temporary X on the skin using a device called a Tesla coil during a science demonstration. He says he had done that, with no complaints, hundreds of times in his 21 years as a teacher at Mount Vernon Middle School.
Well, here (from Panda’s Thumb) is a photo of one of those marks, and it sure looks like a cross to me. What “X” has such a long arm? Let’s hope the law has equally long arms. . .