'Academic Freedom' Is No Excuse for Teaching Religion in Public Schools
The attempt to introduce creationism into the public schools is one of the most serious church-state threats young people face. Not only does teaching religion in biology class violate students' rights by imposing fundamentalist theology on them, it also leaves youngsters woefully unprepared for the demanding science courses many of them will encounter in college.
It's imperative, therefore, that defenders of church-state separation remain on the alert to block creationists' various schemes. Over the years, courts have struck down so-called "balanced treatment" laws that require that creationism be taught alongside evolution, the teaching of "intelligent design," anti-evolution disclaimers pasted into textbooks and other overtures.
Efforts by rogue teachers to claim an "academic freedom" right to teach creationism also surface from time to time. Such a case is currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court. In that long-running legal battle, teacher John Freshwater insists that he has a constitutional right to bring his religious views into the classroom.
He does not. Courts have ruled time and again that public schools must curb teachers who preach. There are many reasons for this: Preaching is not part of a public school teacher's job, and allowing school staff to impose religion on young people violates the rights of parents.
Additionally, granting teachers an unfettered right to bring any idea into the secondary school classroom is a recipe for chaos. …