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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

15 February 2010

Why I Shouldn't Post This...

As I was about to write this post, which I fully intend to write, I noted this lovely article in the N&O
: A Middle school teacher in my district was suspended for comments posted to her Facebook page. This isn't unusual in and of itself, it's been done elsewhere before this. The difference is that she posted comments related to students leaving a Bible on her desk (from her surname she is certainly of Middle Eastern descent and ostensibly Muslim?) and that the parents of her students were "bigoted, stupid, and uncaring." She also mentioned that she was "able to shame her students". Now, investigation of that final comment is the only thing that seems to be a legal reason for suspension, since the others amount to her right to free speech and/or her being persecuted, not the other way around. I don't doubt that Wake Co. has a legitimate excuse for her suspension, but I seriously doubt their motives.

Now to the meat of the post: I attended a January graduation ceremony because a number of my former students were graduating. For the most part, they were graduating early, not a semester late. The part of this that stuck in my head, however, was that there was a graduation speech delivered, not by a member of the faculty or graduating class, but by a pastor at a local church of which our principal is a member. Yes, that's right, a member of the clergy was asked to give a "message", for which he chose the life of David, complete with passages and Biblical references. While I'm not sure where else he would have found information on him, since most of what we know of him is from that fictional source. The speech included some decent worldly advice, but also some outright Christian messages, as well as direct reading of a Psalm. From what I remember, that pretty well matches what a sermon is.... how is this legal? Our public schools should not be a recruiting ground for local churches.

UPDATE PZ Myers of Pharyngula has picked up the first part of my post... although not due in any way to me: here


  1. Hi to the IST (don't know what to call you:-)),
    I saw your post on Pharyngula and had to check out your blog.

    Monday morning, my Mom mentioned that they were talking about this on WPTF. I never listen to that station, but wanted more info. Anyway, the host Scott Fitzgerald, (not so conservative sounding as the other hosts) asked something like "when is it appropriate to talk about religion in class". So I called in to answer.
    Then while I was waiting to go on he played a clip from one of the students who had called him on Friday about this story. She was saying that the teacher was teaching evolution as a "fact" not as a theory. Well, that gave me soooo much more to talk about.
    Scott put me on and I answered his question, then started to talk about "theory" and the students' confusion about what they were being taught. He tried to tell me I was wrong and a theory doesn't mean that it's a fact. I told him what a scientific theory is. We argued a bit, then he cut me off.
    Anyway, he had a commercial break and came back with an apology. He had gotten info about what a scientific theory meant and read that, then admitted I was right. Vindication!
    A few other callers also pointed this out after me.
    There was also another guy on talking about intelligent design and how that's perfect for a classroom.
    I do have to give him a lot of credit for his clarification. He seemed more open minded than other hosts on that station.
    I still won't listen much--I really prefer WUNC radio.
    Anyway, I'm so excited to find another like minded person here in Wake County. From some of your Phayngula posts, I thought you were from NC.

    By the way, I taught horticulture in high school for one whole awful year. And yes, when I mentioned evolution, I got bad looks. Also, that school, near Charlotte, had regular prayers before meetings and other events--it was horrible.

  2. Thanks for reading, Lynn, and well done on the radio conversation. I try to find something that has a surplus of music and a lack of bullshit in the mornings, so my Ipod is choice, but I'm glad someone rational called in to that.
    For other like-minded people in the area... have you considered the Raleigh-Durham Atheist, Agnostic, and Freethinkers Meetup? I don't go often, but there are quite a few people who do.