The Freshwater scandal 145

So successfully has the intellectual life of the Western world been commandeered by the Left, that it’s almost impossible to satirize it. Since we know this to be the case, we should not be surprised by a comment on our post below, Against schools, that takes for granted that the six absurd subjects we made up are in fact being taught – though they “take up far less time” than the conventional ones, the commenter informs us. We are, however, a little surprised, if also amused.

It is seriously deplorable that education in America should be so deeply corrupted.

The Left is chiefly to blame, but not exclusively. Religion is another rot in the beams.

Here’s a scandalous story, providing a rather extreme example of attempted indoctrination in the classroom, from Open Salon, written by a blogger who calls himself “The Unapologetic Geek”, and posted on January 18, 2011:

Almost three years and one million dollars in public funds ago, the Mount Vernon Board of Education in Ohio began considering the case of John Freshwater, a middle school science teacher. The accusations had piled up over the previous decade that Freshwater had been proselytizing his religious beliefs in class, that he physically hurt his students, and that he wasn’t adequately teaching the science curriculum. The Board of Education had a difficult determination to make: was Freshwater a bad, abusive, overzealous teacher, or was he the victim of overreaction, gossip, and heresay? It shouldn’t have taken nearly three years and one million dollars to answer this question, because once you look at the case, it becomes pretty clear that John Freshwater was more than just a bad public school science teacher; he – along with the mind-numbingly terrible and wasteful bureaucratic rigamarole the public school system had to go through to get him to stop “teaching” – is a good reason to consider homeschooling your kids. …

John Freshwater … used his eighth-grade science classroom to discuss what the Bible has to say on homosexuality, to discuss whether Catholics can be considered real Christians, and to preach that evolution has been fully discredited. He allegedly assigned pro-creationist literature as required reading … while refusing to spend a minute explaining the facts behind modern evolutionary theory.

For at least eleven years, other teachers had been complaining about Freshwater. One high school science teacher has been very vocal about how difficult it was to re-teach basic scientific principles to freshmen who had been through Freshwater’s class. This is a serious failing for the public school system, because our science education is already lacking without having to deal with zealots like Freshwater giving young minds the wrong impression of what science is actually about.

According to multiple reports, Freshwater used an electrostatic generator (a Tesla coil, essentially) to burn a cross into the arms of some of his students. … Even in a legitimate science class … using scientific tools to burn the skin of your students is not an acceptable thing for a teacher to do. In a perfect world, such an act should lead to automatic termination as surely as bruising your students would. After all, let’s call it what it really is: assault. …

The investigation that resulted came up with plenty of physical evidence, and that lead to Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of Education et al., a civil court case that went on for two and a half long years. In the end, Freshwater was heavily sanctioned for his behavior (both out of court and in court) and wound up having to pay several hundred thousand dollars in plaintiffs attorney fees. The Mount Vernon Board of Education had to pay a large settlement as well. It took two additional months for the Board to finally terminate Freshwater, which it did last week. All told, the entire legal battle cost the public school system an estimated total of $902,765.

This is perhaps the most shocking aspect to the case; that it took so long and so much money to fire one bad teacher. A fair hearing or an investigation is one thing, but this has been going on for over a decade. You have a teacher who apparently isn’t teaching the curriculum, is branding his students, and who has refused to obey continued instructions to change his methods, and it still takes you this long to do anything about it. Meanwhile, Freshwater had over ten years to continue his idea of teaching science to impressionable young minds, forcing future teachers (and hopefully parents) to work harder to undo the damage. That is, in a word, unacceptable. …

There’s no telling how many more of these teachers are out there, but Freshwater was certainly not the only one.