If you watched local media reports on WLKY, WDRB, WHAS, and WAVE, the meeting was a low key, controversy free affair with a reasoned discussion of what was and wasn't acceptable in terms of religious discussion in the classroom.
If you read the information coming out of the LEO Weekly that night on Twitter, though, you had hints the meeting might have been less about what a teacher's rights were and weren't when it came to religion in the classroom, and more about how to covertly push a religious viewpoint within the classroom, including the teaching of the religious concept of creationism as science.
Today, Joe Sonka's article came out in the LEO (here) and in reading it, it almost sounds as though he attended a completely different event than the reporters from the local TV stations.
One has to wonder how all four major stations could attend the event and not mention that religious armbands were handed out at the door with the instructions to wear them in the hopes that teachers would be asked their meaning by children, which would lead to an opportunity to discuss faith.
One also has to wonder how all four stations could miss a principal talking about a public school as a "mission field" or saying that he taught biology for 20 years and used kids to teach present creationism as a scientific concept in his classroom.
And certainly none of these alleged reporters thought to question a statement by a Christian educator that "“It is not true that in science classes you’re not allowed to talk about creation or intelligent design."
Why would all four local news stations understate what appears to be a single religious group's attempt to use schools as an evangelical platform for their religion and to find ways to teach science classes the non-scientific concepts of creationism and intelligent design? And why would all four not dig a little deeper, as Sonka did, to clarify a troubling statement by a school administrator?
Certainly, JCPS has done the right thing in making their policy clear on religion in the classroom and stating in no uncertain terms that creationism and intelligent design are not to be taught as science. But I think JCPS needs to go beyond and examine how the statements and actions of staff outside of the classroom can impact the perception, and even the teaching of subjects in the classroom. Assuming the quotes in the LEO are accurate, it is troubling to me that a highly paid administrator freely admits that while he was teaching biology he didn't understand the basic concepts of evolution or scientific theory. And it also troubles me that JCPS administrators, who one would hope have had many years to comprehend the clearly and legally established separation of church and state, are willing to put the district at risk of a lawsuit (which history shows they would lose) and educational ridicule.
DISCLAIMER: I was born and raised Catholic, attended church regularly, and went to public schools in the 1970s and 1980s. In that time, religion was freely discussed among students, and discussed in the academic discussion of history and literature. When I was in high school, we did have after hours discussion of religion with some teachers, all of whom remained professional. I believe that we all have the right to practice the faith we choose, or avoid it altogether. I have ZERO problem with the educational presentation of creationism and intelligent design in the proper religious, philosophical, or historical context. However, neither concept has a place in science class because they are not scientific concepts. Teachers who equate a scientific theory with faith based concepts like intelligent design and creationism are demonstrating an ignorance of the subject of science that should not be tolerated among anyone responsible for teaching science to our children in a public school.