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Emily Ude February 27, 2013 EDUC 201-01 Reflective Journal Yesterday John Freshwater, a former eighth-grade science

teacher, took the stand at the Ohio Supreme Court with hopes to regain his job in the Mount Vernon school district. The case was regarding whether the Mount Vernon school board was justified in firing Freshwater or if it violated his Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Freshwater was fired in January 2011 following an investigation that took place when a complaint was filed by the parents of his eighth grade student. “In 2008, they claimed that Freshwater used an electric demonstration device called a Tesla coil to make a mark they said resembled a cross on the student’s arm.” (The Plain Dealer) Along with this accusation, the school district found that for years Freshwater had a box of Bibles in his classroom. In his classroom, Freshwater kept a copy of the Ten Commandments posted on his bulletin board. The board of education took action and fired Freshwater for citing activities that advanced religious beliefs in the classroom and insubordination. Prior to Freshwater’s termination, he had been asked by the school board to stop using the materials that addressed Darwin’s theories because it lacked proper sourcing. He ignored the order and continued to use such materials. Freshwater claims that the box of Bibles were used for the students participating in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes who met in his classroom and that by terminating him, the school board violates his constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. As future teachers, we must be aware and very careful about our rights and responsibilities. While it is our duty to help students look at issues from different points

of views, we must do so by cooperatively working with the school board. Each school district is run differently whether they are public schools, private schools, or Catholic schools. Teachers must abide by both state and school regulations regarding curriculum and criteria. While some may agree with Freshwater’s beliefs, there is a strict line between Church and State in public schools. If the Bibles were indeed used strictly for an approved after school activity, then I agree that his rights should be protected. But, if Freshwater made use of them during the regular school hours, I feel that he should be terminated. Teachers can not force religious material upon public school students because not all students have the same beliefs. Freshwater should also be terminated for his failure to comply with the school board after the warning to stop using such materials to explain the Darwin Theory. Though Freshwater may have good values and beliefs, a public school system is not an environment to be displaying such views upon young adolescents.