Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Static Electricity

The following testimony took place between 3:04 P.M. and 3:17 P.M. on 1/16/09.

Donald Newcomer teaches sixth-grade math at Mount Vernon Middle School—his 31 year career in the Mount Vernon City School District includes teaching sixth-grade science.

Like eighth-grade science teacher John Freshwater, Newcomer used a Tesla coil during some of his lessons. Newcomer said that he used the device to help students to become excited. It was used during a unit on electricity.

Newcomer described touching the energized device like that of rubbing your feet on carpet and then touching something.

About 100 students touched the device during the times he demonstrated it—all willing volunteers, Newcomer said. The students would touch it with the tip of their fingers. Some students chose not to touch it.

The only times that he had it up to full voltage was when he would demonstrate with it by putting the tip of the device near the metal on the chalk board. When doing this he would sometimes turn off the lights in the room so the students could see the spark better, Newcomer said.

Like other teachers who have testified, Newcomer said that he has no safety concerns about the Tesla coil. Newcomer said he would not use the device if he thought it was going to hurt anyone.

Newcomer has two daughters that went through Freshwater’s class. His daughters never complained about Freshwater—one even recently commented to him about having liked Freshwater, Newcomer said.


The manufacture of the Tesla coil, Electro-Technic Products, Inc., gave this description of the device: “It has an output of between 20,000 to 45,000 volts, at a frequency of approximately 500kHz. When properly adjusted, when the electrode is held within ¼ to 1 in. (6 to 25 mm) from a metal object, a spark will jump to the metal. Current output of the spark is about 1 mA.”

High voltage is present anytime a spark is visible—even if it is a spark that resulted from walking across carpet and then touching a door handle. (The amperage of electricity is primarily responsible for injuries, not the voltage.)

The length of the spark is a good indicator of how high the voltage is. To learn more, visit the webpage by William J. Beaty “‘Static Electricity’ means ‘High Voltage’: Measuring your body-voltage.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

Science Teacher: Tesla Coil is Safe

The following testimony took place between 2:29 P.M. and 2:45 P.M. on 1/16/09.

Steven Farmer—an eighth grade science teacher at Mount Vernon Middle School for a period of four years ending in 2005—testified about his experiences with the Tesla coil. (Farmer is currently a science teacher at Mount Vernon High School.)

Farmer used the Tesla coil during lessons on gases and electricity.

Using the Tesla coil on students allows them to experience the flow of electrons first hand, Farmer said. One way Farmer used it was for him to touch the device and then have a student touch his hand. The other way was for them to touch it directly. Farmer said that he never used it on anyone’s arm.

(Witnesses and those who came to watch the Freshwater termination hearing on Friday faced sub zero temperatures.)

If the Tesla coil is grabbed tight it does not hurt, Farmer said. However, he does not think that a person would leave their finger on the device for long. Farmer said that he has only used the device on someone for a second, or a few seconds, at a time.

The first time that Farmer remembers seeing the Tesla coil was when he was a student at the middle school. Farmer said that he had Jeff George as a science teacher but does not remember if George used the device on anyone.

The Mount Vernon News managing editor Samantha Scoles interviewed George for an article they published on April 25, 2008, titled “Experiments typical part of curriculum”: “George said that in his lessons he used Telsa coils and the Vandergraph conductor, a smaller version of a device found at COSI that sends your hair in all directions when touched.”

When Farmer teaches science, he brings in material to supplement what is provided by the school. Most of the outside material is from research done on the internet which Farmer puts into slides he creates in Microsoft’s PowerPoint program, Farmer said.

Kelly Hamilton, John Freshwater’s attorney, asked Farmer if teachers have wide latitude in what they can bring into the classroom. Farmer agreed that they do.

Hamilton asked Farmer if there had been any instructions with the Tesla coil. Farmer was not sure if there were any written instructions—he said that he probably received general instructions on how to use it.

The report by H.R. On Call, Inc. contained the statement, “There was no written instructions that could be located with the device, however operating instructions were available and could be downloaded from the company’s website.” The warning in the downloadable manual is to “Never touch or come in contact with the high voltage output of this device, nor with any device it is energizing.”

Hamilton asked Farmer if he had ever thought to look for instructions on the web about using the device.

Farmer replied that he never searched the web for instructions.

Hamilton reminded Farmer about his statement that he used the web for research when preparing lessons. Hamilton then asked—since Farmer was comfortable with using the internet—why he did not look for that information on the web.

Farmer’s response was that he did not go looking for more information because he already felt comfortable in his ability to use the Tesla coil.

Hamilton brought out the exhibit of the two photos supplied by the Dennis family. Hamilton asked Farmer to look at the photos and tell him if he had ever seen anything, as a result of using the Tesla coil, that looked like what was depicted in the images.

The two photos show someone’s arm, allegedly that of Zach Dennis, with what appears to be burn marks. In one photo the burns appear as the shape of a capital “T.” The second photo the burns form the shape of a lower case “t.” (There are also what appears to be additional red lines running parallel to the trunk of the “T.” The camera angle, and the lighting, is such that these lines are de-emphasized.)

After examining the photos, Farmer said that he has never seen marks like that from his use of the Tesla coil. There has never been any blisters, raised skin or red marks, Farmer said.

Farmer said he has never received any complaints about Freshwater.
(The electrostatic device is manufactured by Electro-Technic Products, Inc. Photo. )

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Middle School Guidance Counselor: Had Colin Powell/Bush Poster in Office

The following testimony took place between 2:00 P.M. and 2:26 P.M. on 1/16/09.

Ben Sanders, a guidance counselor at Mount Vernon Middle School, testified that he had the “Colin Powell/Bush” poster in the office in which he counsels students.

John Freshwater’s attorney, Kelly Hamilton, has been asking witnesses about their knowledge of the poster. Hamilton asks them if they have a copy of it or if they have seen it displayed at the school. Display of this poster is one of the reasons that the report by HR On Call, Inc. declared Freshwater “insubordinate.”

The poster shows Colin Powell and President Bush in prayer. Written at the top of the poster is a portion of James 5:16: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Sanders had his copy of the poster behind his office door such that it was visible inside the room when the door was closed. It was visible to students that were in the room for counseling.

Being a guidance counselor means helping students that are dealing with personal problems such as problems with friends and parents, Sanders said.

On the back of the poster is scrawled a thank you note from former principal Tim Kieb to Sanders. In the note Kieb says, “Thanks for ministering to the students and myself” and “You won’t know how much I needed you this year.”

Sanders described that year as one in which the school was short on people. It was also Sanders’ first year working at the middle school. Sanders commented that a person can “minister” through their actions, it does not necessarily require speaking.

The back of the poster was photocopied by the hearing official and entered as an exhibit.

(The photograph was taken January 28, 2003. © Brooks Kraft/CORBIS. The poster was printed by Freeport Press, Inc.)

Sanders also had a small cross sculpture on the corner of his desk. On the cross was written a portion of Jeremiah 17:7: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.”

Neither the cross nor the poster is kept in Sanders’ office now. Assistant principal Brad Ritchey recently asked for them to be removed, Sanders said. Ritchey talked with Sanders two times about the cross—the first time to tell him that he might need to remove it, and then the second time asked him to remove the cross and the poster, Sanders said.

Sanders said he has heard about inspections (for religious items) being done in classrooms, but has not seen them doing it.

Part of Sanders’ job responsibilities is to check classrooms before tests are given to make sure that there is nothing being displayed that might give students answers to test materials, Sanders said. He has pulled some items while doing this task and as he understands it, he does have the authority to do this. Administration can remove things from classrooms because it is the school, not the teacher’s personal space, Sanders said.

Hamilton asked Sanders if there are any places in the classroom that are off limits to the students. Sanders replied that students are not supposed to go behind the teacher’s desk—this is a teacher rule to respect this space, not a school rule.

Sanders said that he has been in most, if not all, of the classrooms at the school and has seen religious items such as a cross, angel, saint and an American flag which had the words “In God we trust.” He did not give these things much thought until the recent controversy came up.

Sanders never saw Freshwater teaching or preaching from the Bible, but Sanders never spent a lengthy amount of time in Freshwater’s classroom.

Four years ago, his daughter was in Freshwater’s class and was involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)—she never had any complaints about Freshwater, Sanders said.

Hamilton asked Sanders if he knew the school’s policy on religion in the classroom. Sanders said he did not remember the policy word for word but that it basically was, “Don’t promote any religion over another.”

Sanders was not interviewed by HR On Call, Inc.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Freshwater like a College Professor

The following testimony took place between 1:22 P.M. and 1:49 P.M. on 1/16/09.

Brian Gastin, English teacher at Mount Vernon High School, was brought as a witness for the defense in the Freshwater termination hearings.

Two of Gastin’s children were in John Freshwater’s class. According to Gastin, his children had no complaints about Freshwater. Just the opposite. They had praise for Freshwater.

One of Gastin’s children, Cory, is now a junior at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Cory told his dad that the way the professors at college make the students think is like the way Freshwater taught. “I sit and listen to my professors in college—it sounds a lot like sitting in Freshwater’s class,” Gastin said his son told him.

While in Freshwater’s class, Gastin’s son had the Tesla coil used on him. The device tickled, Gastin said Corry told him. Gastin never heard from his son any word that the device had harmed him.

Gastin never saw Freshwater teach from the Bible, but the only teaching in Freshwater’s classroom that he has seen is when he would walk by the classroom. The times that Gastin was in Freshwater’s classroom for student/teacher conferences, Gastin reported never seeing a Bible on Freshwater’s desk.

Gastin brought to the hearing the Bible that he keeps in his own classroom. “It’s old like me,” Gastin said. It is a Faith, Parkers edition, large print. Gastin said that he puts the Bible where he happens to be when break ends, or lunch ends. He has sometimes left it out where students could see it.

(Community members gather for prayer outside the Mount Vernon Middle School, August 4, 2008.)

In addition to his personal Bible, Gastin brought a plaque that he keeps in his classroom. It shows a painting of Jesus. The plaque, which was willed to him by his grandparents, has been with him 25 years. Gastin said that he keeps it behind his desk, down on the floor and tilted towards him. It reminds him of his grandparents and of what they did and what he wants to be like.

The painting on the plaque is of a scene where Jesus is knocking on a door. “He did not say as I kick the door in,” Gastin said. “He said as I stand at the door and knock.”

No one has given him parameters of how to deal with religion in the classroom, Gastin said. Students would ask questions about Easter when it was that time of year. Gastin said that he would explain to them that that holiday had different names for different people.

Gastin said that he has seen four or five other teachers with Bibles at the school.

Kelly Hamilton asked Gastin about his knowledge of the Colin Powell/Bush poster. Gastin said the poster came out following the 911 attacks. He remembers seeing the poster in one of the school’s hallways. Gastin said the copy he had in his classroom probably came from a student.

The poster is no longer in Gastin’s classroom. A school administrator was in the classroom and asked him if there was anything in the room that would be a problem or that she needed to look at, Gastin said. The administrator suggested that Gastin cut the Bible verse off (James 5:16) that was printed along the top of the poster, and keep the rest of the poster, Gastin said. She did not order him to take any action on the poster.

Gastin said it was his own choice to take the poster down. The poster was old, was not staying up well, and with the upcoming change of President, it was outdated, Gastin said. That and he would rather take the whole thing down instead of compromising and taking the Bible verse off it, Gastin said.

Under cross examination by David Millstone, attorney for the school board, Gastin said, “I didn’t sense any concern on her part” that there was a religious verse on the poster.

Head Teacher at High School: Never Said Freshwater’s Students Needed Re-taught

The following testimony took place between 1:05 P.M. and 1:18 P.M. on 1/16/09.

The report by H.R. On Call, Inc contained the statement, “During interviews high school science teachers expressed frustration and concern regarding having to ‘re-teach’ concepts that in their opinion had been improperly taught by Mr. Freshwater at the eighth grade level.”

John Frye was called as a witness for the defense. Frye has been a teacher in the Mount Vernon city school system for 22 to 23 years. The high school’s website lists him as “Head Teacher.”

Frye said that he never had a conversation with anyone, school officials or H.R. On Call, about Freshwater’s students needing re-taught. He does not remember having to re-teach Freshwater’s students.

Frye did explain that with the freshman class, re-teaching them is something you have to do. (So technically, then, all freshmen are re-taught. Frye may have been talking about things that students forget over the summer.)

Last year Frye had a daughter in the eighth grade. She was not in Freshwater’s science class, but daughter was in FCA. Frye had no complaints from his daughter.

Frye had no knowledge of the Tesla coil experiment.

During the fifteen years that Frye coached with Freshwater, Frye never saw Freshwater preach at the sports practices.

The only location that Frye saw the Colin Powell/Bush poster was in Freshwater’s classroom. Frye said that he has seen Bibles around the school in cabinets and on bookshelves. One teacher that he was able to name as having a Bible at the school is Brian Gastin.

Kelly Hamilton asked Frye about the school’s religion policy. Frye said that he is unable to recite the exact policy and that he never had any training in that matter.

In the ninth grade, there is a lot of material to cover so there is not really a chance to teach beyond the grade level, Frye said. He is not aware of prohibiting of teaching beyond the grade level.

Frye said that teachers do not have to get permission to bring in extra material to supplement the lessons, as long as it is on the subject matter being taught. Frye has brought movies to class and said that the only stipulation is that they are not “R” rated.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Never Spoke to H.R. On Call

The following testimony took place between 11:36 A.M. and 11:52 A.M. on 1/16/09.

A teacher with a classroom across the hall from John Freshwater’s class was not interviewed by H.R. On Call, Inc. during its investigation last spring. The teacher, Sara Malone, has been a seventh grade history* teacher at Mount Vernon Middle School for the last five years.

Malone said that during the last school year her classroom was close enough to Freshwater’s that she would often stop by in between periods to see what Freshwater was up to.

At Friday’s Freshwater termination hearing, Malone was called as a witness for the defense.

(The Freshwater termination hearing is taking place in the Knox County Service Center.)

Malone testified that she had the Tesla coil tried on her last year. It was “just a little shock,” not an experience that she would describe as painful. It was run across her very quickly, maybe for a second.

The Tesla coil did not give her red skin, raised skin or blisters, Malone said.

Malone’s daughter was in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and interacted with Freshwater. “She enjoyed [Freshwater] as an FCA advisor,” Malone said. Her daughter never had any complaints about Freshwater and “she enjoyed those times that she actually got to be in his class,” Malone said.

Malone never saw Freshwater preaching from his Bible, but she never spent time in his class during class hours.

Malone said that she sometimes has her personal Bible out at school. Two other teachers she is aware of having a Bible out are Freshwater and Lori Miller.

As a history teacher, Malone deals with religion in the material she covers. Easter and Good Friday are subjects that might come up when talking about Christianity. The children do ask her questions about religion, such as one question that comes up almost every year: How does a person know what religion is true? Malone said that her response is to say, “That is a personal choice.”

Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, asked her if a teacher can teach beyond the grade level.

Malone said that the teachers try to make connections to the things the students will be taught in the future. She has taught things that are reserved for the higher grades. One of those things was the formation of democracy “a mini unit on American government, on Greece and Rome” –a sub unit of a larger unit that she was teaching.

Malone uses internet resources, literature, books from different cultures and primary documents when possible. She uses movies that shed light on culture. Even shows regular movies: Prince of Egypt, Aladdin, Jason and the Argonauts. Malone explained that these are things that expand on the cultural elements that the class is covering. She said that she did not have to get outside approval to bring in any of these resources.

*note: I understood Malone to say that she was a history teacher, but the middle school website lists her as a Social Studies teacher. (Maybe she does both.)

Inside John Freshwater’s Classroom

The controversy surrounding John Freshwater prompted school officials to post a “room monitor” in his classroom. A family that, at the time, remained anonymous had made allegations against him of teaching religion and burning a student during a science demonstration.

Freshwater has maintained that the only thing he is guilty of is having his personal Bible on his classroom desk. His attorney was so confident of this fact that he called the room monitor, Deborah Strouse, as a witness for the defense.

(Freshwater taught science for 21 years at Mount Vernon Middle School.)

Strouse’s testimony at Thursday’s hearing sounded like she was endorsing Freshwater for teacher-of-the-year. This despite admitting being prepped by the school board’s attorney, David Millstone, in preparation for her testimony.

Upon questioning by Freshwater’s attorney, Kelly Hamilton, Strouse explained an incident where she was told to “remember who you work for.” Strouse had expressed anxiety about testifying to Dr. Lynda Weston, director of teaching and learning. Weston’s response, according to Strouse, was to “remember who you work for.” Strouse took this to mean she was to remember that she was “working” for the students.

While a monitor in Freshwater’s classroom, Strouse said that she did not hear him speak or do anything that was inappropriate. There was no mention of religion. She did see some religious items in the classroom: several Bibles, a Colin Powell poster, and a bag with some religious items concealed inside. Strouse said that Freshwater never drew attention to the items.

During the six weeks that Strouse was in Freshwater’s classroom, she typed 26 pages of notes onto her notebook computer.

She detailed everyday activities in the classroom. How Freshwater greeted students as they came to class. His handling of a problem student or one that needed, in her words, “TLC”—tender loving care. The way in which he made sure to follow up with any student who did not know an answer to an in-class question. And how he managed to get students to say, “I love science.”

Strouse said that she was even learning a lot of science in Freshwater’s class—and that it was not just because she was in class with him five periods every day. She talked at length praising Freshwater’s abilities as a science teacher. Her enthusiasm over the things she was learning during those six weeks spilled over into her conversations with her husband. “What did Mr. Science teach you today?” Strouse’s husband would ask her.

During a class on cell theory, a student brought up the subject of evolution. The student said, about what they were discussing, “This raises a red flag about evolution.”

Freshwater guided the conversation away from that topic. “I would love to spend some more time on that one, but we are moving on,” Freshwater said, according to Strouse.

Strouse said that she later mentioned this incident to Bill White, middle school principal. She expressed to him that she thought that this “red flag” would have been an opportunity for Freshwater to express his religious beliefs.

None of the students had a reaction to Freshwater’s moving on, nothing to indicate that they were not expecting that response from him, Strouse said.

Hamilton’s questioning of Strouse also attempted to tackle one of the more puzzling reasons the school board is attempting to fire Freshwater: Freshwater taught too much to the students.

When the school board voted unanimously last summer to start the process of firing Freshwater, one of the reasons they gave was that he taught additional material that was not part of the eighth-grade content standards. This teaching that went beyond the grade level was “including, but not limited to, thermo dynamics, the periodic table, the big bang theory and the creation of the universe.”

Hamilton asked Strouse to read aloud the school’s mission statement.

Mission Statement: The Mission of the Mount Vernon City School District is to provide, in cooperation with the larger community, a quality education for all students while upholding a standard of excellence in curriculum, staff, facilities, achievement and conduct, and to graduate individuals empowered to be self-motivated, lifelong learners and responsible citizens.”

Hamilton asked Strouse if teaching that went beyond preparing students for the OAT test was prohibited anywhere in the school’s mission statement. Strouse said no.

One of the things Strouse had put in her 26 pages of notes was that Freshwater gave a lesson on metals and alloys involving a “penny experiment.” This lesson would have been part of the sixth grade content standards. She gave it special emphasis because the OAT test was over by that day and the students would not benefit from any additional teaching on it—at least not on a test.

She described the “penny experiment” as something that helped the students become engaged in science. But she also questioned its worth since it was no longer testable information. Under further questioning by Hamilton, Strouse decided there was nothing wrong with Freshwater doing the “penny experiment.”

Hamilton asked Strouse what was the best method for knowing the effectiveness of a teacher. “The best method to know how well they were taught is the OAT test,” Strouse said. Freshwater’s class had a passing rate of 77 percent on last year’s OAT test, Strouse said.

(According to Bill Oxenford, who testified earlier, Freshwater’s class scored higher than any of the other eighth grade science classes at the Mount Vernon middle school.)

(The Freshwater termination hearing is taking place in the Knox County Service Center.)

Additional statements by Strouse include:

· No knowledge that any of Freshwater’s students had to be re-taught.

· During the 07-08 school year no one was required to submit lesson plans.

· Eighth grade teachers are required to teach everything on the “sixth-eighth grade band” because of the OAT test.

· The poster with the words “In God We Trust/ With God All Things Are Possible” was encouraged to be displayed by the school—and thus was permissible.

· The “Living Bible” on Freshwater’s desk was not clearly visible; Strouse had to look for it to find it.

· Teachers do sometimes bring in materials that are not supplied by the school.

· Freshwater never referred to the Bible on his desk to his class.

· When she wrote “Bible on display” in her notes, she only meant that the Bible was present, not that Freshwater drew attention to it.

· Freshwater asked her what the difference was between having his personal Bible on his desk and having the Bible from the school’s library in the room.

· She had no knowledge of the Tesla coil experiment.

· Knows of only hearsay complaints against Freshwater.

Strouse said that as a teacher, she was jealous of Freshwater. He made every person feel important. He was able to connect a science concept to the things the students would bring up in class. Strouse said that students will work harder if they know the teacher believes in them.

For more on the controversy, read “Shame on The Columbus Dispatch.”

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shame on The Columbus Dispatch

This is a response to The Columbus Dispatch editorial of January 7, 2009, titled “Teaching moment.”

Implicit in the opening of the Dispatch’s editorial is that the rights of the Mount Vernon middle school science teacher, John Freshwater, are a waste of taxpayer money.

The Dispatch concluded that Freshwater is guilty of the allegations against him—and his attorney has not even started his defense.

Although the Dispatch acknowledges that Freshwater is “entitled by state law” to the hearing that is now underway, the Dispatch dismisses that the outcome may be in Freshwater’s favor.

I understand that an editorial necessarily contains opinion but even then there are rules of ethics that apply. According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, even analysis and commentary must not “misrepresent fact or context.”

Also according to the Code of Ethics, a journalist should “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.”

The Dispatch uses information from the report done by H.R. On Call, Inc. as if it speaks with finality on the controversy. This is despite that Freshwater’s attorney has called the reliability of that report into question.

The Dispatch credits a statement, in paragraph six of the editorial, to Freshwater that makes it sound as if Freshwater has said he has burned marks onto students. Nowhere in this editorial does it clarify this by reminding the reader that Freshwater’s position is that he has not done this. In the words of Freshwater, on August 4th 2008, “I have never, never, branded or burned a person.”

(Video of John Freshwater addressing the allegations against him.)

The Dispatch stated, as one argument against Freshwater, that “A high-school teacher testified that she often had to re-teach the basics of evolution to students who had been in Freshwater’s classes.”

However, the Mount Vernon News of January 7, 2009, stated that in the testimony the day before, by the owner of HR On Call, Thomas Herlevi, “There was no empirical evidence that high school teachers had to ‘reteach’ Freshwater students.” This is important because the HR On Call report contained “testimony” by a teacher alleging the need to re-teach students. The Dispatch editorial does not say where the testimony they allege came from—it may have been from the report by HR On Call.

The Dispatch wrote that a “high-school teacher” was re-teaching Freshwater’s students “for fear that they would fail that part of the state proficiency test.”

Interestingly, the Dispatch itself published, the day after the editorial, that science teacher Bill Oxenford testified at the hearing that Freshwater’s students “scored higher than the other science classes despite having the higher number of special needs students.”

The editorial, however, says that Freshwater has a “demonstrated disregard for science” which “disqualifies him to teach in public schools.”

A teacher who has students with the highest scores is not someone with a disregard for the subject that he teaches.

The Dispatch says that another one of the reasons it believes Freshwater to be disqualified to teach is “his poor judgment with the electrical device.”

Poor judgment? Good grief.

Freshwater is not the only teacher to have used the electrostatic device in question on students and to have considered it safe.

Back in August 4th 2008 one of his fellow teachers, Lori Miller, spoke before the school board and said that she has used the device in the same manner that Freshwater has without incident. “I have never had a concern or an issue with it and I cannot honesty comprehend how that device can burn an individual as alleged,” Miller said.

(Video of Lori Miller speaking to school board.)

It doesn’t stop there. Oxenford, called to testify at the hearing by the school board’s attorney, also mentioned using a similar device on students. According to a Dispatch article on January 9, 2009, “Oxenford said he'd touch the tip of the device to a student's fingertip, a sensation he described as ‘not pleasant,’ but not dangerous. He said he never saw or heard of anyone being injured.”

The Dispatch editorial was not just a rush to judgment. It was a deliberate disregard of facts and context.

What agenda does the editorial board of the Dispatch have?

The Dispatch says in the editorial that “The mistake was not in firing Freshwater but in waiting so long to do it.” The editorial characterizes Freshwater as a part of a group of “teachers whose personal beliefs get in the way of their responsibility to educate.”

Is the Dispatch editorial about some real or perceived difference in beliefs between them and Freshwater? The Code of Ethics states that a journalist should “Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.” The Code of Ethics also states that a journalist should avoid stereotyping based on religion.

In the concluding paragraph of the editorial, the Dispatch says that “Other school districts with budding John Freshwaters should take heed.”

Who is a “budding John Freshwater”?

Is that someone who holds different beliefs than that of the Dispatch editorial board—but is still able to teach science well enough to be the “best” by state testing standards?

The last sentence of the editorial reads, “Confronting a popular teacher is controversial, but preserving sound education is essential.”

What does the Dispatch mean by “sound education”?

We already know that for the people who wrote the Dispatch editorial “sound education” does not necessarily include teaching that results in top scores on state tests.

What, then, does “sound education” mean? Does it mean education taught by someone who never disagrees with the Dispatch’s editorial positions?

The Columbus Dispatch editorial “Teaching moment” was a disappointing example of journalism. The Dispatch should retract the editorial and issue John Freshwater a written apology for the journalistic misconduct that the Dispatch editorial board engaged in on January 7, 2009.

Read more about The Columbus Dispatch’s involvement in the Freshwater controversy: “Dispatch Editor and Son Testified for MV School Board.”