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Switch to Forum Live View Sue the history teacher?
7 years ago  ::  Dec 29, 2007 - 7:00PM #1
dearwatson
Posts: 168
Local story made the SF Examiner about two weeks back (Monday, December 17) about an educator being sued for remarks made in a history class that violated the First Amendment prohibiting the government from promoting religious belief.

A Capistrono Valley High School veteran teacher (19 years) is being sued by a student and his parents for making comments seen as more than simply questioning th emerits of religion but rather derogatory of those students with religious convictions.

Now, gudelines (federal, state, and indeed in that district) do not ban teachers from discussing religion (particulary in the social sciences where discussion of religious historical events is one of the standards). However, teachers are expected to be fair and neither promote nor denigrate religions.

I can see how it might be difficult for students to engage in a debate with an instructor or someone with a deeper knowledge of the matter at hand, but I wonder if the best response is to get lawyers involved rather than simply have a meeting with the administration.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 30, 2007 - 7:10PM #2
coachbob
Posts: 2,231
Do you have a link?  I would be interested to know what the teacher said.  I agree the best initial action would be to talk to school officials.  I am just wondering if it was actually anything offensive at all.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 01, 2008 - 11:02AM #3
sterrettc
Posts: 89
I have not seen the news article about this, but as a former teacher I find myself wondering whether the teacher might have been voicing a contrary position for the purpose of discussion.  Students who object to the contrary position might well mischaracterize how it came up.

Sterrett
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 01, 2008 - 12:44PM #4
dearwatson
Posts: 168
The whole story can be found at

http://www.examiner.com/a-1102534~Stude … ments.html

Personally, I think the "Jesus glasses" comment would be amusing.

What bothers me most of all is the ability of a student to record these comments.  Parents can't just show up at a classroom door w/o checking in.  A teacher deserves a certain degree of safety in the classroom - including protection from recording via electronic devices [just as students are].  I hope this guy's union backs him up on it.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2008 - 1:59AM #5
Wulf
Posts: 109
My son currently goes to this school, my daughter has had this teacher for the same class as well as art history.  Dr. Corbett is a very well respected teacher by both the faculty and student body.  Numerous protests in support of the teacher have been held and T-shirt sales to support his legal fund have been set up by students.  What he said in class has been reported and is not in dispute,  however the fragments recorded and used by the media lack context within the lessons. When all the pieces have been put together it clearly seems like an appropriate topic to discuss in an advanced (honors) history class.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2008 - 10:37AM #6
coachbob
Posts: 2,231
The article does not say whether the student and parents took this up with the school first, as they should have. 

It is unclear from the article in what context these statements were made.  When made in the context of a discussion of religion's role in history, they are appropriate.  If he is simply espousing his own opinion, that may or may not be a different.  The real question is whether students are free to express a contrary viewpoint.  The statements quoted certainly evidence a hostility toward Christianity.  Would your opinions be any different if the teacher had stood in class and said Jesus is the truth? 

If the student is convinced the teacher is simply stating his opinion rather than putting it up for discussion in an educational context, he or she needs to go to the principal, then superintendant.  Only if he or she is not satisfied after doing this should a lawsuit be considered, and the school district needs to be named a defendant as well.  This is the same as if the teacher were proclaiming the gospel in the class.  Either they have a right to do it or they don't.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 02, 2008 - 2:47PM #7
Wulf
Posts: 109
Chad Farnan admitted on the O'Reilly show that he did not discuss this with either the teacher or the school before the lawsuit.   Again, our family is pretty close to this knowing both parties personaly.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 17, 2008 - 11:01AM #8
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,162
I was bored and saw this thread,  and it reminded me of instances from my own education.

I saw that the teacher was in high school. I think that it is worth considering that he could have made the comments he did to stimulate discussion and not to intimidate anyone. Yes, there are some high school students who are still impressionable, but I think most people of that age have already formed their own ideas (at least, to an extent) and are prepared to argue them if necessary. If nothing else, they don't take everything the teacher says as gospel and are less afraid to disagree than perhaps younger students might be.  Especially if this is an advanced-level class (the article was not found when I clicked the link, so I don't know if it was or not), where students are encouraged to think critically and already given credit for their intelligence.  At least, my classes were.

Yes, they might have been offensive to some people, but I think the mature thing to do would be to either talk with the teacher personally (or with parents), or to let the comments go as being the teacher's opinion only and not take them personally. Adults disagree peacefully all the time, and learning to do this is an important part of education, I would think.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2008 - 5:51PM #9
Creedofcrusades
Posts: 1,571
I wonder who sued him? There is always one who is ready to bend the community to his will. IF we can get one more Supreme Court justice appointed by the Republicans it may be that we can stop this silliness of huge liberal organizations coming in and sueing school districts. Schools are a state function and the states are Christian bodies. Most of them indicate that in their Constitutions.
   My kids go to a small district here in Louisiana and nobody here complains about the prayers or Christian teachings. My son was student body president and for that year he got to school five minutes early every morning and led the morning prayer over the loudspeaker. Its the way we want our local schools.
   How many times has the will of the people, their democratic expressions of self government, been crushed by an out of control judiciary? From abortion to school prayer to feminism to public expression of religion it always taks force to stop Americans.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2008 - 8:05PM #10
Wulf
Posts: 109
The suit was filed by the student / parents and suported by some Christian groups.  The suit seeks to remove the teacher for alleged anit-christian statements.  The teacher is known for his provocative approach to history lessons and most people think that his statements were appropriate in the context of medieval history as taught to Advanced Placement sophomores.
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