The board’s Jan. 10, 2011 resolution firing Freshwater included a significant focus on how Freshwater handled the topic of evolution. The board said the problem had to do with the evidence offered as being against evolution: “Freshwater’s ‘evidence’ against [evolution] was based, in large part, upon the Christian religious principals (sic) of Creationism and Intelligent Design.”
Further, the school’s administrative guidelines for “Controversial Issues in the Classroom” provide details about how to handle controversial issues:
C. When discussing a controversial issue, the teacher may express his/her own personal position as long as s/he makes it clear that it is only his/her opinion. The teacher must not, however, bring about a single conclusion to which all students must subscribe.
D. The teacher should encourage student views on issues as long as the expression of those views is not derogatory, malicious, or abusive toward other student views or toward a particular group.
E. Teachers should help students use a critical thinking process such as the following to examine different sides of an issue:
For each stated position:
1. What is the person (group) saying?
2. What evidence is there that what is being said is true?
3. What is said that would lead you to think the position is valid?
4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this position?
5. What do you think would happen if this point of view was accepted and was put into practice?
For reaching conclusions:
1. On balance, what do you think is the most reasoned statement? the most valid position?
2. What is there in the statements that supports your conclusion? What other things, beside what is being said, leads you to your conclusion?