Sunday, 22 June 2008

Looks Like John Freshwater is Finally Out the Door

Cafe Philos has a very good discussion of the case of a science teacher in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. There are a lot of links in his post. Very good reading. John Freshwater is the science teacher who has had various complaints by both parents and students for many years.

His behavior this year has finally landed him in extremely hot water. In addition to continually proselytizing his students with right-wing fundamentalist Christianity, he is accused of burning a cross into a student with an electrical device which is not designed for this purpose. See the photograph at the left for a picture of the scar left but he burn.

If this was my child he burned, I would have raised hell the moment I found out about it. The parents of the burned child have been much more lenient than I would have ever been.

It looks like Freshwater has some extremely scary supporters, I can see why the parents wanted to remain anonymous.
Yet, despite Mr. Freshwater’s behavior, quite a few people in Mount Vernon support him. Apparently among his most ardent supporters are the members of a local Christian group that calls itself “Minutemen United“, and who envision themselves as existing “…to wage war against a culture of God-haters”.
Wow, it looks like a mini religious war starting up in Mt. Vernon. It seems like John Freshwater views all those who don't have the exact same religious views as "god-haters". What a dick.
His colleagues over at the high school, for instance, claim his teaching of evolution is so flawed they are forced to re-teach the subject to his students when they get into high school. It has also come out that Mr. Freshwater has been told on at least several occasions to change his behavior, but has refused to do so. Only now, years after the complaints first started coming in, has anything been done about them.
It looks like he really sucks at teaching science.
By the time the School Board met to discuss the matter, many more allegations had surfaced. Consequently, the Board met in executive session to decide to have an independent organization investigate the allegations, and Superintendent Steve Short announced, “The allegations against Mr. Freshwater are very serious. This is not about his personal Bible on his desktop. It is about the totality of his conduct.”
Freshwater seems to be trying unsuccessfully to make this about his personal Bible at work, when the real issue is the religious teaching during science class and his burning of a student. The School Board hired an independent firm to investigate Freshwater's conduct as a teacher. The report is here. And it looks like John Freshwater is as bad a liar as he is a science teacher.

Some excerpts from John Freshwater:
Mr. Freshwater said the State sets the benchmark standards and the school has adopted them. He said that all three eighth grade science teachers follow the same curriculum but exercise flexibility in how they present the curriculum. He said that he teaches evolution.

He denied that his teachings have varied from the District’s curriculum in any way due to his religious beliefs or that he has ever told students that although he is forced to teach from the text books the teachings are wrong or not proven according to the Bible.
Some excerpts from how others see his teaching (there is really so much more, read the report):
Dr. Weston stated that she has had to deal with internal and external complaints about his failure to follow the curriculum for much of her 11 years at Mount Vernon. It has come to her attention many times. She has reported these events to administrators and there have been some attempts to make changes and other instances where they seem to have been disregarded, particularly by one former assistant principal. She said that Mr. Freshwater cannot separate creationism/intelligent design from teaching to the science standards. She stated Mr. Freshwater has a lot of influence with his students that causes her concern.
The High School Principal said that Mr. Freshwater has caused issues for her high school teachers in having to reeducate students from his teachings. The specific issues include a number of areas -- his failure to follow the curriculum regarding teaching creationism/intelligent design rather than evolution and his teaching of the Periodic Table, as examples. The High School Principal specifically asked that her daughter not be assigned to Mr. Freshwater for her 8th grade science due to her concern about his teaching not being consistent with the curriculum.
It looks like the other teachers were aware of how bad a science teacher he was, but did nothing to stop him. As long as their children did not have to be taught by him, it seems like they were willing to let things slide. It took being sued by the parents of an injured student for them to do anything at all.


Paul said...

Thank you so much for the link and the kind words!

Spirula said...

By the way, the head of Minutemen United is the father of this guy. These were found on the family computer. Seems "Jesus Coach" should be paying more attention to what goes on in his own home rather that the science class.

Course, between him and Freshwater it looks like this is a town that nurses on the teat of stupid.

Alex said...

One of my close college friends is a brilliant mathematician (now a math teacher) who grew up in this tiny town. I can't believe that he was a product of this school system, but somehow, he was.

I think that the other teachers must have been compensating very well.

Anna Lemma said...

You're welcome Paul. It was a very complete article, especially with all of the background story. They really need to do more than just fire the guy. He injured a student and no one there seems to really be interested in pursuing this. Perhaps the parents are intimidated by the teacher's nutty friends.

Lala said...

This is great info to know.

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