Saturday, June 21, 2008

Misleading headline

If all you saw was the headline, "Science teacher dissed evolution," you probably wouldn't think much of it. It's not uncommon to find some crackpots in just about any school district. Part of my job as a parent is to do some deprogramming when and if my kids encounter such crackpots, and of course when they encounter the inevitable propaganda that passes for social studies. As I said, if that were all to the story, there wouldn't be much of a story. What actually went on, and what the headline entirely fails to capture is the following:

The report confirmed that Freshwater burned crosses onto students' arms, using an electrostatic device, in December.

Freshwater told investigators the marks were X's, not crosses. But all of the students interviewed in the investigation reported being branded with crosses. The investigation report includes a photo of one student's arm with a long vertical line and a short horizontal line running through it.

The family of one student who was burned filed a federal lawsuit last week against Freshwater and the district, saying the student's civil rights were violated.

Yesterday, the family's attorney, Jessica Philemond, said it was "unfortunate" that the school district didn't do anything sooner to stop Freshwater.

"These concerns had been going on for at least 11 years, and the school had not done anything," she said.

The real headline should have been something like "incompetent teacher torture students." This passage, quoting the teacher's attorney, though is jaw-dropping:
"With the exception of the cross-burning episode. … I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district," he said.
Apparently, the "values" of the parents in that school district include what amounts to incompetent teaching (students from his classes were at a distinct disadvantage compared to students who had 8th grade science from other instructors). That district's administrators also have a lot of explaining to do.

I'm sure that Freshwater has a bright future as a torturer for the US government. He'd fit right in.

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