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Old 19th October 2010, 03:43 AM   #1
Cainkane1
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Science teacher gets fired for teaching evolution.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQacQy1KJ9M

Texas has got to be the pits when it comes to education in the USA.
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Old 19th October 2010, 03:49 AM   #2
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That's from more than 2 years ago... Might as well have posted a Rickroll.
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Old 19th October 2010, 04:43 AM   #3
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Old 19th October 2010, 04:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Reaver View Post
That's from more than 2 years ago... Might as well have posted a Rickroll.
What was the outcome?
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Old 19th October 2010, 02:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
What was the outcome?
Turns out evolution was true. Who would have guessed?
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Old 19th October 2010, 02:37 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
What was the outcome?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_Comer#Lawsuit
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Old 19th October 2010, 09:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQacQy1KJ9M

Texas has got to be the pits when it comes to education in the USA.
Cainkane1 .. thanks for pointing this out .. I hadn't heard.
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Old 19th October 2010, 10:04 PM   #8
Achán hiNidráne
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
What was the outcome?
The courts upheld her firing.

Quote:
In mid 2008, Comer filed a suit in federal court in Austin, Texas, that stated that the policy she was terminated for contravening (which required employees to be neutral on the subject of creationism) was unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that teaching creationism as science in public schools is illegal. Comer also stated in her complaint that she was fired without due process after serving as the state science director for nearly 10 years. Her lawsuit sought a court order overturning the neutrality policy on teaching creationism and declaring that her dismissal was illegal under the Constitution and her reinstatement. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on March 31, 2009.

In August 2009, Comer appealed the dismissal decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (docket 09-50401). Appeal arguments were heard in April, 2010, and the court ruled on July 2, 2010, that the TEA's policy does not violate the First Amendment's religious freedom clause because it does not advance or inhibit the practice of religion.
Then again, it probably serves Comer right! By sending out that announcement she was being such a "dick," right JREF? I mean, Phil Plait would have fainted dead away if he had read that strident, feelings-hurting, e-mail.
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Old 20th October 2010, 12:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Achán hiNidráne View Post
The courts upheld her firing.



Then again, it probably serves Comer right! By sending out that announcement she was being such a "dick," right JREF? I mean, Phil Plait would have fainted dead away if he had read that strident, feelings-hurting, e-mail.
Does anybody know on what grounds federal courts upheld an action that was an obvious violation of the First Amendment?
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Old 20th October 2010, 02:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Wikipedia
In August 2009, Comer appealed the dismissal decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (docket 09-50401). Appeal arguments were heard in April, 2010,[29] and the court ruled on July 2, 2010, that the TEA's policy does not violate the First Amendment's religious freedom clause because it does not advance or inhibit the practice of religion.[30]
It's ironic that this just 100% reflects creationism has no scientific basis and is purely religious. It's like saying, "You, teacher, will have no opinion whether Jesus was real or not."
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Old 20th October 2010, 02:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Does anybody know on what grounds federal courts upheld an action that was an obvious violation of the First Amendment?
How was it a violation of the First Amendment? An employee, even a state employee, has no expectation to be allowed to keep her job if she says stuff her employer doesn't like.

I think that firing her was a wrong-headed decision, but it didn't violate the First Amendment.
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Old 20th October 2010, 02:49 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQacQy1KJ9M

Texas has got to be the pits when it comes to education in the USA.
You are painting Texas with this absurdly HUGE brush, dismissing the entire educational system here as "the pits" based on a single news report (and presumably others like it).

Yes, there are conservative religious officials here who propound a creationist agenda. Welcome to the USA. What you're not seeing, apparently with regard to Texas education, are the opponents to that agenda, numerous and vocal, who keep science where it belongs -- in the classroom -- and fight the fundamentalists' attempts at legislation and rule-making tooth-and-nail.

For every unfortunate case like Comer, there are dozens if not hundreds of victories for science and critical thinking here in Texas, which do not make the news. Please consider that next time, before making sweeping generalizations about how awful Texas supposedly is.
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Old 20th October 2010, 02:59 PM   #13
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_Comer#Lawsuit

Furthermore, as the above link shows, the thread title is a gross misrepresentation of the events of the case. Comer was not a "science teacher... fired for teaching evolution". She worked for the TEA and was fired for sending an e-mail in which she promoted an upcoming speech by a writer on evolution and ID in education.

Note that I am not saying that I believe Comer's firing was in any way correct or "right". I am clarifying that she was not a "teacher... fired for teaching evolution", as the thread title erroneously asserts.
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Old 20th October 2010, 03:56 PM   #14
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Yes the court upheld it. From a legal perspective it didn't advance or inhibit the "practice" of religion. At least not directly. Yet it is a direct interference with education for religious purposes. The case still needs appealed, with some lawyers that recognize the difference.
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Old 21st October 2010, 07:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Vortigern99 View Post
Yes, there are conservative religious officials here who propound a creationist agenda. Welcome to the USA. What you're not seeing, apparently with regard to Texas education, are the opponents to that agenda, numerous and vocal, who keep science where it belongs -- in the classroom -- and fight the fundamentalists' attempts at legislation and rule-making tooth-and-nail.
About an hour ago, I was at my son's elementary school (yes I'm in Texas), where there is a book fair going on, with books for sale to benefit the PTA.

As I was standing in line with my son, the book Charles Darwin (Giants of Science) was prominently displayed right there near the front. I took a few moments to leaf through it and read a few scattered paragraphs, and it looked like a fantastic introduction for the elementary level. The paragraphs I read did NOT shy away from the conflict with religion angle.

Anyway, I was pretty impressed, not only with the book itself, but that it was featured at an elementary school level.
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Old 21st October 2010, 11:24 AM   #16
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Cainkane1, please address the errors you've made in both the titling of this thread and in pronouncing Texas education as "the pits", both of which are demonstrably incorrect.
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Old 21st October 2010, 05:11 PM   #17
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Is there a concern that Comer's case will become precedence?
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Old 22nd October 2010, 05:05 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Does anybody know on what grounds federal courts upheld an action that was an obvious violation of the First Amendment?
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-5th-circuit/1530369.html

It is kind of a dry read, and hopefully will go to SCOTUS, but the ruling was that the neutrality stance of TEA does not impinge upon religious or non-religious freedom in teh system, there is an intereptation of lattitude of school boards there as well.

She clearly violated a policy that the court ruled did not fall under First amendment protection.

this is where the main argument starts in the document
Quote:
The Supreme Court established a general framework for analyzing Establishment Clause challenges in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).   To survive an Establishment Clause challenge, the statute or policy must survive all three of Lemon 's prongs:  (1) “the statute must have a secular legislative purpose;” (2) “its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion;” and (3) “the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.”  Id. at 612-13.

...
By relying on the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards, Comer attempts to equate TEA's neutrality policy with the Louisiana law at issue in Edwards, arguing that both are unconstitutionally “neutral” and “balanced” in their treatment of evolution and creationism in the classrooms of public schools.  
...
Comer's aforementioned interpretation and application of Edwards ' precedent fails for two reasons.   First, Comer exclusively argues that TEA's neutrality policy violates Lemon 's second prong.   The Supreme Court in Edwards, however, only found Louisiana's law to be in violation of Lemon 's first prong, and consequently, Edwards 's analysis is inapposite to this case.   Second, when we do consider the argument Comer has raised on appeal-specifically, that TEA's neutrality policy violates Lemon 's second prong-we find no evidence in the record to indicate that the neutrality policy's “principal or primary effect” is to advance religion.
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Old 22nd October 2010, 09:47 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-5th-circuit/1530369.html

It is kind of a dry read, and hopefully will go to SCOTUS, but the ruling was that the neutrality stance of TEA does not impinge upon religious or non-religious freedom in teh system, there is an intereptation of lattitude of school boards there as well.

She clearly violated a policy that the court ruled did not fall under First amendment protection.

this is where the main argument starts in the document
Okay, fair enough; however, I wonder why they would fire a competent employee rather than merely reprimanding her. Of course, it's possible they did indeed do just that. Does anyone know the actual history of tis case? Did the TEA warn her first and only fire her after repeated violations, or did she only make one remark and find herself fired, without recourse to appeal?
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Old 23rd October 2010, 07:18 AM   #20
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Um read the case decision of the appeal, she was not a teacher at the time, she was an employee of the TEA and she made some grievous errors in judgment along with disregarding policy
FN1 from the case above:
Quote:
FN1. In November of 2006, Martinez asked Comer not to communicate with anyone outside TEA regarding the Board's science curriculum deliberations in order to ensure that TEA was not releasing premature or inaccurate information.   Just a few hours later, Comer forwarded an email to a group of science educators disclosing the very information Martinez asked her not to disclose.   As a result of this act, and other acts considered to be “misconduct,” Martinez issued a “Letter of Counseling” to Comer in February 2007.   The letter provided Comer with a list of directives to follow, including a requirement that she must not “communicate in writing or otherwise with anyone outside the agency in any way that might compromise the transparency and/or integrity of the upcoming TEKS development and revision process.”
Now it is important to note something about appeals they are about a case that has already occurred and may only reference the issues in that case. Despite the accusations of 'activist judges' the decisions are based upon the case at hand, the arguments made and the case law.(I highly recommend you read the decision, which is what I posted.
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Old 23rd October 2010, 10:31 AM   #21
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Thanks, Dancing David, that clears things up quite a bit. It would seem the lady was misrepresenting her situation and the actions of TEA.
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Old 23rd October 2010, 11:57 AM   #22
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Well I disagree with the decision, Comer's argument in the original case is the one that the appeal judged. I am not sure of the court's standard of how a 'neutral' stance in putting religious content in a class on science is reasonable. However Comer's firing was reasonable.
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