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Author Topic: Teacher files suit over religious items  (Read 1145 times) Average Rating: 0
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TheMathematician
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« on: January 10, 2013, 09:32:02 PM »

http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/local/teacher-files-suit-over-religion-items

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A high school science teacher is suing the Cheektowaga Central School District, after she says the district told her to remove personal items of religious nature from her classroom.

Joelle Silver, a teacher at the school for seven years, says she received a “counseling letter” to remove the items from her classroom. The suit was filed against the district, President of the Board of Education Brian J. Gould, and Superintendent of Schools Dennis Kane
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 09:48:39 PM »

Quote
A student had complained, but not to the district. The superintendent says the student went to a group called "Freedom From Religion," which threatened a lawsuit if the district did not take action.
A similar thing is happening to a local school with the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 10:14:26 PM »

I have searched high and low, far and wide, and in all my travels and discoveries, I have yet to locate the cure for stupid. 

Good for the teacher!  Bad for the whomever pouted about NOT forcing religion on her students.
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 10:27:55 PM »

There should be a foundation to keep students and teachers free from laïcité.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 10:47:00 PM »

I teach in a public school and I'd never do what she did.  My classroom walls are not my personal space and are not for me to display my personal beliefs.

Quote
Silver had four small posters in her room with psalm verses on them, a poster with a religious quotation from Ronald Reagan, a drawing that the district said is reference to the crucifixion, a poster that had a Bible verse superimposed on the American flag and school books, among other items.

My classroom walls are especially not the place to propagate the myth that Christianity is our national religion.

She is not going to win her suit.
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 10:51:29 PM »

She is not going to win her suit.

This.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 10:53:38 PM »

I have searched high and low, far and wide, and in all my travels and discoveries, I have yet to locate the cure for stupid. 

Good for the teacher!  Bad for the whomever pouted about NOT forcing religion on her students.

I somehow doubt you'd feel the same way if it was a Hindu with a statue of his/her god or a Buddhist with one of Buddha.  Roll Eyes
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 11:01:30 PM by sheenj » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 10:55:22 PM »

FFRF has done it again! Angry

Dan Barker has decided that the wearing of religious items at school is a sign of oppression so he forces school districts to oppress the teachers for their religion and make high school an unrealistic bland atheist environment for all students for the sole purpose of not offending two or three whining and spoiled atheist crybabies who are going to go to society and fail because they are going to get offended from having a religious boss and when they can't turn to FFRF in the real world they are going to quit.  Good riddance to them anyway, the workforce needs a ground-up renovation of lazy and spoiled workers who think its okay to miss a few days because they have a cold or a headache.  

That's [liberal] statist philosophy folks, "no offense" and "who cares if it isn't a life-like environment as long as everyone feels included."

 Roll Eyes Angry Cry
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 11:24:42 PM »

I teach in a public school and I'd never do what she did.  My classroom walls are not my personal space and are not for me to display my personal beliefs.

Quote
Silver had four small posters in her room with psalm verses on them, a poster with a religious quotation from Ronald Reagan, a drawing that the district said is reference to the crucifixion, a poster that had a Bible verse superimposed on the American flag and school books, among other items.

My classroom walls are especially not the place to propagate the myth that Christianity is our national religion.

She is not going to win her suit.


^ +1000
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 11:29:58 PM »

My classroom walls are especially not the place to propagate the myth that Christianity is our national religion.
I'm not sure I see the connection between a school's depiction of religion as being the nation's religion. I know people use this line of reasoning a lot, but I just don't see it.

For example, if I were to see an image of Lakshmi on the wall of a classroom I wouldn't infer from it that the state's established faith is Hinduism. Especially if I lived in a Hindu-prominent community.

An anecdotal example I'm aware of is a community with a high Jewish populations taking off for Jewish holidays as well as national holidays. I wouldn't necessarily infer from that the establishment of Judaism as the state religion.

Oh well.
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2013, 11:57:07 PM »

I teach in a public school and I'd never do what she did.  My classroom walls are not my personal space and are not for me to display my personal beliefs.

Quote
Silver had four small posters in her room with psalm verses on them, a poster with a religious quotation from Ronald Reagan, a drawing that the district said is reference to the crucifixion, a poster that had a Bible verse superimposed on the American flag and school books, among other items.

My classroom walls are especially not the place to propagate the myth that Christianity is our national religion.

She is not going to win her suit.


^ +1000
Pretty much my thoughts exactly.

We had a Spanish teacher who had a statue of the Mother of God of Guadalupe in her classroom for many years.  You'd think it was because of her Mexican heritage and her occupation, but she said "Everything in the room is for the students, she [holy virgin] is there for me." 

No one had a problem with our beloved teacher having her statue up, but the teacher in the article sounds very extreme.  If I taught Russian, Ukrainian or Greek in school, I might have an icon of the Theotokos of Vladimir, because it's culturally relevant, but this lady seems like she was taking it much too far.  (Also, she seems to be one of those people, who seldom make good teachers, in my opinion.)
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2013, 12:38:32 AM »

My classroom walls are especially not the place to propagate the myth that Christianity is our national religion.
I'm not sure I see the connection between a school's depiction of religion as being the nation's religion. I know people use this line of reasoning a lot, but I just don't see it.

For example, if I were to see an image of Lakshmi on the wall of a classroom I wouldn't infer from it that the state's established faith is Hinduism. Especially if I lived in a Hindu-prominent community.

An anecdotal example I'm aware of is a community with a high Jewish populations taking off for Jewish holidays as well as national holidays. I wouldn't necessarily infer from that the establishment of Judaism as the state religion.

Oh well.


Perhaps I'm inferring too much from the article and video but it seems to me this is where the woman is at.
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2013, 12:50:25 AM »

My high school civics teacher was, I kid you not, an avowed Marxist who had a big "revolutionary" banner (in Russian, with a big hammer and sickle, an image of Lenin's head on it, etc.) hung up on the wall so that if you were going to look up at the blackboard for any reason, it would always be in your peripheral vision. He also had a small bust of Lenin kept away in a closet, and would take it out and have students rub Lenin's head for good luck on test days. This stuff wasn't up for a unit on communism or the cold war. It was up year around, along with those annoying bumperstickers with sayings like "A woman who seeks to be equal to a man lacks ambition" or "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" on them.

He retired about a decade ago in good standing after about 30 years on the job, with full benefits.

I don't agree that the walls of the classroom in a public school are or ought to be vehicles for the expression of the instructor's views, but I also haven't ever seen teachers like the one I had (who I actually liked quite a bit as a person and a teacher, but his ideological bias was hard to miss) ordered to tone down the expression of their own views. I wonder what the FFRF would think about my high school civics class.
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2013, 02:01:20 AM »

I have searched high and low, far and wide, and in all my travels and discoveries, I have yet to locate the cure for stupid. 

Good for the teacher!  Bad for the whomever pouted about NOT forcing religion on her students.

I somehow doubt you'd feel the same way if it was a Hindu with a statue of his/her god or a Buddhist with one of Buddha.  Roll Eyes

That's the thing.  This sort of stuff IS out there.  It's just no one complains.
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2013, 02:04:17 AM »

My classroom walls are especially not the place to propagate the myth that Christianity is our national religion.
I'm not sure I see the connection between a school's depiction of religion as being the nation's religion. I know people use this line of reasoning a lot, but I just don't see it.

For example, if I were to see an image of Lakshmi on the wall of a classroom I wouldn't infer from it that the state's established faith is Hinduism. Especially if I lived in a Hindu-prominent community.

An anecdotal example I'm aware of is a community with a high Jewish populations taking off for Jewish holidays as well as national holidays. I wouldn't necessarily infer from that the establishment of Judaism as the state religion.

Oh well.
You really shouldn't use rational thought when it comes to Christianity.  You won't fit in.
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2013, 10:20:17 AM »

Students and parents should know their rights when it comes to public education.  Students and parents have considerable ability to influence schools they just choose not to use it for a variety of reasons.  The fact that atheists are making a concerted effort to stymie improper Christian expression should encourage Christians to take legitimate steps to promote student groups and the freedom for students to expression their Christianity on public school campuses.  What Christian teachers should not be doing is using their classroom as a venue for their personal beliefs, no good teacher does this.
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2013, 10:23:39 AM »

This day and age, if anyone puts anything up of a religious nature in a school and DOESN'T expect being pestered about it, they need to clean out the rock they have to be living under these last 20 years.

A Baptist buddy of mine holds a Bible study every week at school and the hoops he (and the teachers that attend) have to jump through are considerable...and this is in the Baptist Vatican for goodness' sake.

PP
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2013, 10:26:01 AM »

Students and parents should know their rights when it comes to public education.  Students and parents have considerable ability to influence schools they just choose not to use it for a variety of reasons.  The fact that atheists are making a concerted effort to stymie improper Christian expression should encourage Christians to take legitimate steps to promote student groups and the freedom for students to expression their Christianity on public school campuses.  What Christian teachers should not be doing is using their classroom as a venue for their personal beliefs, no good teacher does this.

What (and perhaps more importantly, who decides) is "improper Christian expression"?
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2013, 10:51:59 AM »

Students and parents should know their rights when it comes to public education.  Students and parents have considerable ability to influence schools they just choose not to use it for a variety of reasons.  The fact that atheists are making a concerted effort to stymie improper Christian expression should encourage Christians to take legitimate steps to promote student groups and the freedom for students to expression their Christianity on public school campuses.  What Christian teachers should not be doing is using their classroom as a venue for their personal beliefs, no good teacher does this.

What (and perhaps more importantly, who decides) is "improper Christian expression"?

In the context of teachers working for the state in public schools? The courts will.

But it should already have been obvious to this teacher that what she was doing was inappropriate. 
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2013, 11:27:54 AM »

Students and parents should know their rights when it comes to public education.  Students and parents have considerable ability to influence schools they just choose not to use it for a variety of reasons.  The fact that atheists are making a concerted effort to stymie improper Christian expression should encourage Christians to take legitimate steps to promote student groups and the freedom for students to expression their Christianity on public school campuses.  What Christian teachers should not be doing is using their classroom as a venue for their personal beliefs, no good teacher does this.

What (and perhaps more importantly, who decides) is "improper Christian expression"?

In the context of teachers working for the state in public schools? The courts will.

But it should already have been obvious to this teacher that what she was doing was inappropriate. 

Yeah, see this is where I get confuse. Although it's probably a question for a legal scholar. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It seems sometimes that this has been interpreted by the courts to mean no expression of religion at all.
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« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2013, 02:52:26 PM »

r/atheism has gotten hold of the article, so there are probably lots of militant atheist teenagers yelling in those comment sections...
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« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2013, 04:19:14 PM »

Where I'm from just about every teacher has a Bible on the desk or a nearby bookshelf, many are active in their churches as are many of the students. One school I used to work at had a yearly Gospel sing in the spiring. An inspirational poster or two would not likely raise an eyebrow…now a school official trying to "sterilize" Christian expression out of classrooms or student activities would very soon find themselves looking for a new job far far away. If elected they would not be reelected, and if hired their bosses would be under ferocious  public pressure to rein them in or let them go.  

Where I'm from, there is no official state religion, but the state is de facto Christian of one stripe or another and our communities are fully supportive of Christianity's acknowledgement in school settings and undisputed place in the shaping and transmission of our culture.
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« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2013, 11:10:05 PM »

Just because someone is employed by the government (federal, state especially) does not mean they automatically forego all religious expression.  Why?  Because they are not THE government and they are not attempting to establish a government religion. 
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« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2013, 10:40:29 AM »

Just because someone is employed by the government (federal, state especially) does not mean they automatically forego all religious expression.  Why?  Because they are not THE government and they are not attempting to establish a government religion. 

Who said that all government employees have to forgo all religious expression?  I'm only really interested and feel informed enough to talk about the case on hand. 

Are classroom walls for the teacher to use to express their own personal religion and beliefs? 
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« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2013, 11:37:37 AM »

Just because someone is employed by the government (federal, state especially) does not mean they automatically forego all religious expression.  Why?  Because they are not THE government and they are not attempting to establish a government religion. 

Who said that all government employees have to forgo all religious expression?  I'm only really interested and feel informed enough to talk about the case on hand. 

Are classroom walls for the teacher to use to express their own personal religion and beliefs? 

My political science class is full of left wing posters.
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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2013, 12:39:27 PM »

Sounds like she is an Evangelical. FYI Cheektowaga is a large working class suburb of Buffalo and heavily Roman Catholic. I suspect that plays into this story as well sub surface.

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« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2013, 01:03:27 PM »

My political science class is full of left wing posters.

Is the promotion of a particular political bent "religious expression"? 

Is your teacher blatantly left wing in lectures and discussions?  Are students with other viewpoints treated disparagingly?
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« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2013, 01:15:24 PM »

It may not be a "religious expression", but the parallels are hard to miss, given that the most oft-repeated reason for complaints like the ones launched against this teacher is that the heavy-handedness of her presentation is inappropriate for her job (which I agree with). I doubt this case would be happening if she had religious items on her desk or her bookshelf or something. I see pictures of the Virgin Mary and Catholic crosses at nearly every government office I visit in New Mexico, but they're on the walls of individual cubicles, not plastered all over the waiting room or whatever. Given that distinction, I find the plastering of political posters essentially advocating one viewpoint over all others in a school classroom to have more in common with the story in the OP than those teachers who put them up would probably be comfortable admitting.
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« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2013, 01:23:56 PM »

My political science class is full of left wing posters.

Is the promotion of a particular political bent "religious expression"? 


In both cases the teacher uses the classroom to promote personal beliefs. Then again, one of my teachers has a photo of the Pope, a crucifix and some icons in his classroom. I don't mind both teachers doing what they do.

Is your teacher blatantly left wing in lectures and discussions?  Are students with other viewpoints treated disparagingly?

Dit the science teacher in the OP do that?
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« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2013, 09:07:49 PM »

Just because someone is employed by the government (federal, state especially) does not mean they automatically forego all religious expression.  Why?  Because they are not THE government and they are not attempting to establish a government religion. 

Who said that all government employees have to forgo all religious expression?  I'm only really interested and feel informed enough to talk about the case on hand. 

Are classroom walls for the teacher to use to express their own personal religion and beliefs? 
Ok, let's focus on that, but use what I posted and give a reply rather than another question.
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« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2013, 10:56:14 PM »

My political science class is full of left wing posters.

Is the promotion of a particular political bent "religious expression"? 


In both cases the teacher uses the classroom to promote personal beliefs. Then again, one of my teachers has a photo of the Pope, a crucifix and some icons in his classroom. I don't mind both teachers doing what they do.

Is your teacher blatantly left wing in lectures and discussions?  Are students with other viewpoints treated disparagingly?

Dit the science teacher in the OP do that?

No and I wasn't intending to insinuate that she was. I was just probing to see if the posters of your teacher were connected to their instruction.  Are posters related to political science, albiet leftwing, the same as Bible verses in a science class?
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« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2013, 11:02:09 PM »

Just because someone is employed by the government (federal, state especially) does not mean they automatically forego all religious expression.  Why?  Because they are not THE government and they are not attempting to establish a government religion. 

Who said that all government employees have to forgo all religious expression?  I'm only really interested and feel informed enough to talk about the case on hand. 

Are classroom walls for the teacher to use to express their own personal religion and beliefs? 
Ok, let's focus on that, but use what I posted and give a reply rather than another question.

I am simply saying that classroom walls should be used for the instruction of the students and for this teacher the subject matter is science.  This woman needs to drop the suit and put up a periodic table of elements.
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« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2013, 12:26:18 AM »

My political science class is full of left wing posters.

Is the promotion of a particular political bent "religious expression"? 


In both cases the teacher uses the classroom to promote personal beliefs. Then again, one of my teachers has a photo of the Pope, a crucifix and some icons in his classroom. I don't mind both teachers doing what they do.

Is your teacher blatantly left wing in lectures and discussions?  Are students with other viewpoints treated disparagingly?

Dit the science teacher in the OP do that?

No and I wasn't intending to insinuate that she was. I was just probing to see if the posters of your teacher were connected to their instruction.  Are posters related to political science, albiet leftwing, the same as Bible verses in a science class?
If relevance is the key, every classroom, other than perhaps US history, needs to remove pictures of the president, and anything else not directly related to the subject being taught.
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