School districts continue to attack academic freedom by restricting religious speech in the classroom. One such case is that of John Freshwater, a Christian teacher in a public school who was fired by the Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education for having religious items (e.g., Ten Commandments poster, posters with Bible verses, and his personal Bible) in his classroom and for encouraging his students to challenge the school’s science curriculum, largely as it relates to evolution theories. The case has been appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court by the Rutherford Institute.
Freshwater belongs to NRB member organization Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), a non-profit religious association of teachers, administrators, and para-professionals in education whose mission is, “To Encourage, Equip and Empower Educators according to Biblical Principles.”
CEAI Executive Director Finn Laursen commented, “Our member lost his job for doing what other good teachers do on a regular basis; he went beyond the curriculum, encouraging students towards higher levels of thinking, and not sterilizing his classroom of any items connected to religion including his personal Bible.”
A 24-year veteran in the classroom whose students repeatedly scored superior on standardized tests, Freshwater said, “Academic freedoms were once the foundation of American education. It is so sad that it is being eroded away. My case is a clear example of this.”
Laursen stresses the importance of this case as a fight that “goes beyond state borders and one teacher; it will clarify if our public schools are to be a place of controlled indoctrination or a place where the freedom our forefathers framed in the Constitution rules. It will send a message to districts whether teachers of faith shed First Amendment rights at the school house door.”
You can learn more about Christian Educators Association International and join their efforts at www.ceai.org.