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Guest Paul

We have a settlement

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Guest Paul

After many months, we were finally able to reach agreement with the Board of Education to resolve the matter that arose last autumn when a history teacher made inappropriate comments in the classroom. The Anti-Defamation League will provide training for teachers and students on church-state separation and evolution. A statement issued by the Board includes a re-affirmation of its commitment to evolution and the big bang as part of the science curriculum.

This accomplishes what we set out to do. The Board has also issued a strong statement commending Matthew, and we have issued a statement commending the Board for the actions it is now taking. A complaint policy will also be implemented to provide a mechanism for students to report misconduct in the classroom, and addressing our concerns about recording classes when misconduct is occurring.

The Board has agreed to reimburse our expenses in connection with this matter, but we are not taking a penny in damages. Our expenses do not include any attorneys' fees , as our attorneys were working pro bono. They believed in the rightness of this cause as much as we did.

The link to today's New York Times article is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/10/nyregion...r=1&oref=slogin

The Board's statement reads as follows: “The Board wishes to publicly express their appreciation to Matthew LaClair for his efforts in bringing to the School Board’s attention a serious situation in the Kearny schools regarding the Constitutional mandate of Separation of Church and State. Because of Matthew’s exemplary actions in standing up for his Constitutional rights and the integrity of education, often at the cost of his own popularity in the community and the school, the Board was able to take action to correct this situation and improve the educational environment for all students. The Board commends Matthew LaClair for his courage and integrity in taking the responsibilities of citizenship seriously and acting accordingly. We thank him for calling attention to this important issue. The Board reaffirms our commitment to the core academic curriculum standards relating to the Big Bang and evolutionary theory.”

Our statement reads: “We applaud the Board's actions today in moving forward on its commitment to providing Kearny’s young people a first-class education on a broad range of subjects, including science and the law. We appreciate the Board’s willingness to meet with us to resolve this matter. This has been a difficult situation for everyone involved and we commend the Board for committing to conduct student and teacher training on constitutional principles and affirming its commitment to the separation of Church and State and the teaching of science in the classroom. We further appreciate the Board’s efforts in abating objectionable religious content in the classroom. We are also pleased that the Board has committed to adopting a Complaint Policy which will allow students to address their concerns. We recognize that the Board must be mindful of the interests and well being of all members of its school community, and we understand and acknowledge that the Board’s Policy on Recording Devices seeks to address the privacy concerns of students. Life is a learning process, and we welcome the opportunity to move forward together for the good of all concerned.”

Our thanks go to KOTW and to our supporters. It is disappointing that there should be any battle at all over these issues in a public school in New Jersey in 2007, but we are pleased that the Board has acted to address this matter in an appropriate way.

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Wasn't the training program already arranged by the BoE?

Is there a difference between this settlement and what the BoE had already decided, other than the commendation of Matthew LaClair?

I wonder what the "expenses" were?

The cost of Matthew's recording device?

An hourly attorney's rate for posting at KOTW?

Gasoline reimbursement for trips to board meetings?

;)

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Guest Guest
After many months, we were finally able to reach agreement with the Board of Education to resolve the matter that arose last autumn when a history teacher made inappropriate comments in the classroom. The Anti-Defamation League will provide training for teachers and students on church-state separation and evolution. A statement issued by the Board includes a re-affirmation of its commitment to evolution and the big bang as part of the science curriculum.

This accomplishes what we set out to do. The Board has also issued a strong statement commending Matthew, and we have issued a statement commending the Board for the actions it is now taking. A complaint policy will also be implemented to provide a mechanism for students to report misconduct in the classroom, and addressing our concerns about recording classes when misconduct is occurring.

The Board has agreed to reimburse our expenses in connection with this matter, but we are not taking a penny in damages. Our expenses do not include any attorneys' fees , as our attorneys were working pro bono. They believed in the rightness of this cause as much as we did.

The link to today's New York Times article is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/10/nyregion...r=1&oref=slogin

The Board's statement reads as follows: “The Board wishes to publicly express their appreciation to Matthew LaClair for his efforts in bringing to the School Board’s attention a serious situation in the Kearny schools regarding the Constitutional mandate of Separation of Church and State. Because of Matthew’s exemplary actions in standing up for his Constitutional rights and the integrity of education, often at the cost of his own popularity in the community and the school, the Board was able to take action to correct this situation and improve the educational environment for all students. The Board commends Matthew LaClair for his courage and integrity in taking the responsibilities of citizenship seriously and acting accordingly. We thank him for calling attention to this important issue. The Board reaffirms our commitment to the core academic curriculum standards relating to the Big Bang and evolutionary theory.”

Our statement reads: “We applaud the Board's actions today in moving forward on its commitment to providing Kearny’s young people a first-class education on a broad range of subjects, including science and the law.  We appreciate the Board’s willingness to meet with us to resolve this matter.  This has been a difficult situation for everyone involved and we commend the Board for committing to conduct student and teacher training on constitutional principles and affirming its commitment to the separation of Church and State and the teaching of science in the classroom.  We further appreciate the Board’s efforts in abating objectionable religious content in the classroom.  We are also pleased that the Board has committed to adopting a Complaint Policy which will allow students to address their concerns. We recognize that the Board must be mindful of the interests and well being of all members of its school community, and we understand and acknowledge that the Board’s Policy on Recording Devices seeks to address the privacy concerns of students.  Life is a learning process, and we welcome the opportunity to move forward together for the good of all concerned.”

Our thanks go to KOTW and to our supporters. It is disappointing that there should be any battle at all over these issues in a public school in New Jersey in 2007, but we are pleased that the Board has acted to address this matter in an appropriate way.

FINALLY WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP !

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Guest Paul
Wasn't the training program already arranged by the BoE?

Is there a difference between this settlement and what the BoE had already decided, other than the commendation of Matthew LaClair?

I wonder what the "expenses" were?

The cost of Matthew's recording device?

An hourly attorney's rate for posting at KOTW?

Gasoline reimbursement for trips to board meetings?

;)

The Board announced after we filed our Notice of Claim that they would conduct in-service training for teachers, but had not yet done or arranged it. They did not commit to addressing this subject with the students until this agreement. So yes, there is a difference.

None of the items you mention will be reimbursed by the Board. Really, Bryan, you betray yourself with a post like that.

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Guest Guest

Congratulations! Your son and you have been inspirational during this whole time.

NJ Guest

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The Board announced after we filed our Notice of Claim that they would conduct in-service training for teachers, but had not yet done or arranged it. They did not commit to addressing this subject with the students until this agreement. So yes, there is a difference.

None of the items you mention will be reimbursed by the Board. Really, Bryan, you betray yourself with a post like that.

How do I supposedly betray myself?

I still don't know what would have been reimbursed, and I don't know what expenses would have been incurred apart form the items I mentioned (given that attorney fees did not figure in).

Assuming that Paul is telling the truth (I do grant him the benefit of the doubt), at least by mentioning three possibilities a few things were ruled out.

The questions helped me acquire some information.

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The Board announced after we filed our Notice of Claim that they would conduct in-service training for teachers, but had not yet done or arranged it. They did not commit to addressing this subject with the students until this agreement. So yes, there is a difference.

I meant to deal with this part in the other post, but that dastardly "add reply" button got in the way.

JayMonster seemed to know that the Board announced an in-service training program way back in January.

http://www.bluejersey.net/tag.do;jsessioni...ag=civil+rights

Yet Paul didn't announce his notice of intent to file a claim until February, by my recollection.

That's a pretty strange "after." Did the board members hop in the TARDIS in March 07and head back into January 07 or before?

I suppose by claiming that the announcement came after the filing, LaClair can claim that his threat to file a lawsuit produced that action on part of the BoE.

One would think that he would have a higher regard for the truth, though.

Or would one?

Even "God Save Us From the Christians" was aware of the BoE's move way back in January.

http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php?showtopic=3891

Where was Paul LaClair?

Feb. 20, KOTW:

"The deadline for filing the Notice of Claim was last week, and we just met it."

http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php...indpost&p=46170

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Wasn't the training program already arranged by the BoE?

Is there a difference between this settlement and what the BoE had already decided, other than the commendation of Matthew LaClair?

I wonder what the "expenses" were?

The cost of Matthew's recording device?

An hourly attorney's rate for posting at KOTW?

Gasoline reimbursement for trips to board meetings?

:)

Way to show just how petty and immature you can be. Talk about "true colors."

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Excellent! I know that it took months to get to this point and I am sure there were many heated discussions across the US because of this topic (KOTW included), but I am glad that both sides supported the other in the end. Life is a learning experience and sometimes it takes a situation like this to get everything back on track.

I'm glad that both sides were able to find middle ground-

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After many months, we were finally able to reach agreement with the Board of Education to resolve the matter that arose last autumn when a history teacher made inappropriate comments in the classroom. The Anti-Defamation League will provide training for teachers and students on church-state separation and evolution. A statement issued by the Board includes a re-affirmation of its commitment to evolution and the big bang as part of the science curriculum.

This accomplishes what we set out to do. The Board has also issued a strong statement commending Matthew, and we have issued a statement commending the Board for the actions it is now taking. A complaint policy will also be implemented to provide a mechanism for students to report misconduct in the classroom, and addressing our concerns about recording classes when misconduct is occurring.

The Board has agreed to reimburse our expenses in connection with this matter, but we are not taking a penny in damages. Our expenses do not include any attorneys' fees , as our attorneys were working pro bono. They believed in the rightness of this cause as much as we did.

The link to today's New York Times article is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/10/nyregion...r=1&oref=slogin

The Board's statement reads as follows: “The Board wishes to publicly express their appreciation to Matthew LaClair for his efforts in bringing to the School Board’s attention a serious situation in the Kearny schools regarding the Constitutional mandate of Separation of Church and State. Because of Matthew’s exemplary actions in standing up for his Constitutional rights and the integrity of education, often at the cost of his own popularity in the community and the school, the Board was able to take action to correct this situation and improve the educational environment for all students. The Board commends Matthew LaClair for his courage and integrity in taking the responsibilities of citizenship seriously and acting accordingly. We thank him for calling attention to this important issue. The Board reaffirms our commitment to the core academic curriculum standards relating to the Big Bang and evolutionary theory.”

Our statement reads: “We applaud the Board's actions today in moving forward on its commitment to providing Kearny’s young people a first-class education on a broad range of subjects, including science and the law.  We appreciate the Board’s willingness to meet with us to resolve this matter.  This has been a difficult situation for everyone involved and we commend the Board for committing to conduct student and teacher training on constitutional principles and affirming its commitment to the separation of Church and State and the teaching of science in the classroom.  We further appreciate the Board’s efforts in abating objectionable religious content in the classroom.  We are also pleased that the Board has committed to adopting a Complaint Policy which will allow students to address their concerns. We recognize that the Board must be mindful of the interests and well being of all members of its school community, and we understand and acknowledge that the Board’s Policy on Recording Devices seeks to address the privacy concerns of students.  Life is a learning process, and we welcome the opportunity to move forward together for the good of all concerned.”

Our thanks go to KOTW and to our supporters. It is disappointing that there should be any battle at all over these issues in a public school in New Jersey in 2007, but we are pleased that the Board has acted to address this matter in an appropriate way.

If it means an end to the mindless bloviations by Paulie and his sidekick Strifey, then I'm eternally grateful to the BOE.

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Guest Paul
I meant to deal with this part in the other post, but that dastardly "add reply" button got in the way.

JayMonster seemed to know that the Board announced an in-service training program way back in January.

http://www.bluejersey.net/tag.do;jsessioni...ag=civil+rights

Yet Paul didn't announce his notice of intent to file a claim until February, by my recollection.

That's a pretty strange "after."  Did the board members hop in the TARDIS in March 07and head back into January 07 or before?

I suppose by claiming that the announcement came after the filing, LaClair can claim that his threat to file a lawsuit produced that action on part of the BoE.

One would think that he would have a higher regard for the truth, though.

Or would one?

Even "God Save Us From the Christians" was aware of the BoE's move way back in January.

http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php?showtopic=3891

Where was Paul LaClair?

Feb. 20, KOTW:

"The deadline for filing the Notice of Claim was last week, and we just met it."

http://forums.kearnyontheweb.com/index.php...indpost&p=46170

I stand corrected on this point: the Board did say publicly that it would conduct in-service training on these issues before we filed our Notice of Claim. However, it was not specific as to how this would be done, by whom or when until now, and that lack of specifics was not sufficient. In addition, one of the essential things we wanted to accomplish was to correct and educate the students regarding the teacher's mis-statements. The Board committed to do that only in our settlement agreement. There was also virtually no dialogue until we filed our Notice, which was also subject to a deadline. We did what was required to accomplish important goals, which the Board has recognized as such.

Whine all you like, Bryan. Matthew set out to achieve a goal, and he has achieved it. Obviously, you don't like the outcome and would prefer this had been swept under the rug. That is exactly what we were afraid of, and so we acted to prevent it, and we succeeded.

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'Our thanks go to KOTW and to our supporters. It is disappointing that there should be any battle at all over these issues in a public school in New Jersey in 2007, but we are pleased that the Board has acted to address this matter in an appropriate way.'

You're welcome, we are glad to have been of assistance.

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I stand corrected on this point: the Board did say publicly that it would conduct in-service training on these issues before we filed our Notice of Claim. However, it was not specific as to how this would be done, by whom or when until now, and that lack of specifics was not sufficient.

Should we assume that you attempted to find out specifics prior to filing the notice of claim even though you give the impression that you weren't even aware of the BoE's non-specific plan prior to filing?

;)

In addition, one of the essential things we wanted to accomplish was to correct and educate the students regarding the teacher's mis-statements.

The types of errors Paszkiewicz actually made were rather subtle--the type of imprecision that is abundant at high school level and below (not to let higher level instruction entirely off the hook). The greater bulk of what you think Paszkiewicz claimed came from your own imagination, thus the BoE loses nothing by affirming that it will teach the Big Bang and evolution as science. It's possible that Paszkiewicz will feel thrown under the bus to some degree or other, I suppose, and perhaps you'd find that satisfying.

The Board committed to do that only in our settlement agreement.

Uh-huh. Probably they would have started teaching Young-Earth Creationism throughout the district starting next fall if you hadn't intervened.

There was also virtually no dialogue until we filed our Notice, which was also subject to a deadline. We did what was required to accomplish important goals, which the Board has recognized as such.

Oh? How did they recognize it, exactly?

Whine all you like, Bryan.

Whine about how others are supposedly whining all you like, Paul. :)

Matthew set out to achieve a goal, and he has achieved it.

It was done the wrong way.

Obviously, you don't like the outcome and would prefer this had been swept under the rug.

The outcome is fairly neutral, IMO.

No precedent will stem from this case, which (if I'm not mistaken) leaves no precedent anywhere in U.S. law regarding the speech of individuals where policy isn't involved. Your approach to the issue may cause a chilling of free speech beyond what the law calls for, and if that's the case then I don't like that aspect of the outcome.

As for wanting it "swept under the rug"--to the contrary. As I wrote earlier, I supported Matthew's right to complain, and I think that Matthew should have made like a young adult and talked to Paszkiewicz directly about his objections. I think that his behavior and yours was unnecessarily divisive.

That is exactly what we were afraid of, and so we acted to prevent it, and we succeeded.

The cost comes later, in the form of a some life lessons probably better unlearned (winning through intimidation--unless you can fit that in your Golden Rule somewhere), and of course the eventual disintegration of the boneheaded multicultural (relativistic) experiment that has become the United States.

You may not live to see the results--Matthew may well. And of course you think you're making things better but your failure in backing up your claims about "objective" morality and "universally held" values was telling.

Even though the average Joe doesn't think about philosophy so much, it has a way of influencing the broader culture regardless.

Other than that, I hope that Kearny gets some peace, the LaClairs included. And I hope the nation's schools get around to teaching philosophy of science so that kids won't be blindly indoctrinated with Paul LaClair's religion.

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Guest Paul
Should we assume that you attempted to find out specifics prior to filing the notice of claim even though you give the impression that you weren't even aware of the BoE's non-specific plan prior to filing?

;)

The types of errors Paszkiewicz actually made were rather subtle--the type of imprecision that is abundant at high school level and below (not to let higher level instruction entirely off the hook).  The greater bulk of what you think Paszkiewicz claimed came from your own imagination, thus the BoE loses nothing by affirming that it will teach the Big Bang and evolution as science.  It's possible that Paszkiewicz will feel thrown under the bus to some degree or other, I suppose, and perhaps you'd find that satisfying.

Uh-huh.  Probably they would have started teaching Young-Earth Creationism throughout the district starting next fall if you hadn't intervened.

Oh?  How did they recognize it, exactly?

Whine about how others are supposedly whining all you like, Paul.  :)

It was done the wrong way.

The outcome is fairly neutral, IMO.

No precedent will stem from this case, which (if I'm not mistaken) leaves no precedent anywhere in U.S. law regarding the speech of individuals where policy isn't involved.  Your approach to the issue may cause a chilling of free speech beyond what the law calls for, and if that's the case then I don't like that aspect of the outcome.

As for wanting it "swept under the rug"--to the contrary.  As I wrote earlier, I supported Matthew's right to complain, and I think that Matthew should have made like a young adult and talked to Paszkiewicz directly about his objections.  I think that his behavior and yours was unnecessarily divisive.

The cost comes later, in the form of a some life lessons probably better unlearned (winning through intimidation--unless you can fit that in your Golden Rule somewhere), and of course the eventual disintegration of the boneheaded multicultural (relativistic) experiment that has become the United States.

You may not live to see the results--Matthew may well.  And of course you think you're making things better but your failure in backing up your claims about "objective" morality and "universally held" values was telling. 

Even though the average Joe doesn't think about philosophy so much, it has a way of influencing the broader culture regardless.

Other than that, I hope that Kearny gets some peace, the LaClairs included.  And I hope the nation's schools get around to teaching philosophy of science so that kids won't be blindly indoctrinated with Paul LaClair's religion.

Yes, we did try to find out the specifics. The Board didn't want to talk to us. You asked whether there was a difference between what the Board committed to do before we filed our Notice of Claim, and what they have agreed to do in our settlement agreement. There are three differences:

1) Although they publicly stated that they would conduct in-service training, they did not spell out who would do it, what its contents would be or when it would be done. They have now done that.

2) There was no commitment to addressing the issues with the student body. There is now.

3) The commitments they made were not legally enforceable. Now they are.

We would have tried to find a way to avoid filing the Notice if points 1 and 2 had been more firmly in place, but in the absence of a legally enforceable agreement, we still may have felt it necessary to preserve our rights.

You ask how the Board has acknowledged that Matthew's actions led to the accomplishment of important goals. They did that in two ways: first, by agreeing to have the ADL conduct student education on this subject, and second by including the following language in their commendation of Matthew: "Because of Matthew’s exemplary actions in standing up for his Constitutional rights and the integrity of education, often at the cost of his own popularity in the community and the school, the Board was able to take action to correct this situation and improve the educational environment for all students."

I don't think telling kids that they belong in hell if they don't share the teacher's religion is subtle; neither is dismissing two scientific theories in favor of biblical creationism; or claiming that the Bible is objectively sound because biblical prophecies have all been fulfilled to the letter; or telling kids that dinosaurs were on Noah's ark; neither are a great many of this teacher's statements. There was nothing subtle about them, but I doubt that Bryan will be persuaded, so perhaps we can agree to disagree. I went to a rural school in the Midwest from K through 12, and none of my teachers ever once said anything that came anywhere close to what Paszkiewicz said in that classroom in just a few days.

I would welcome the school teaching the philosophy of science. The ADL will be doing that by clarifying what a scientific theory is. That was one of Mr. Paszkiewicz's mis-statements, which the ADL will be addressing.

In the end, while we may disagree about the means, I am pleased that Bryan is satisfied with the outcome. We may see it differently, but like him, I would like to move on.

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Yes, we did try to find out the specifics. The Board didn't want to talk to us.

Why couldn't you remember that enough to accurately report the time line above? That seems like the type of detail that would stick, IMO.

You asked whether there was a difference between what the Board committed to do before we filed our Notice of Claim, and what they have agreed to do in our settlement agreement. There are three differences:

1) Although they publicly stated that they would conduct in-service training, they did not spell out who would do it, what its contents would be or when it would be done. They have now done that.

2) There was no commitment to addressing the issues with the student body. There is now.

3) The commitments they made were not legally enforceable. Now they are.

Seems pretty subtle to me, but maybe there's some detail to it that isn't apparent just yet.

We would have tried to find a way to avoid filing the Notice if points 1 and 2 had been more firmly in place, but in the absence of a legally enforceable agreement, we still may have felt it necessary to preserve our rights.

See, that's what confuses me, here.

In making the grand announcement of the settlement, you make a big deal that there was no commitment for the training program before the notice of claim, and that's (apparently) why the claim was necessary. Now, it's the fact that the details weren't specified that supposedly influenced the decision to file the notice of claim.

Where three primary motives are listed, it seems strange for one of the principal parties to get one wrong.

You ask how the Board has acknowledged that Matthew's actions led to the accomplishment of important goals. They did that in two ways: first, by agreeing to have the ADL conduct student education on this subject, and second by including the following language in their commendation of Matthew: "Because of Matthew’s exemplary actions in standing up for his Constitutional rights and the integrity of education, often at the cost of his own popularity in the community and the school, the Board was able to take action to correct this situation and improve the educational environment for all students."

Good grief. That's exactly what I would have predicted.

The former was tacit acknowledgment. The latter was very probably coerced (specifically arranged as part of the settlement).

I don't think telling kids that they belong in hell if they don't share the teacher's religion is subtle;

I don't think taking comments out of context repeatedly is honest. In terms of error (which is the context of my statement), you are aware that religion can be discussed in public school, so your complaint here is that Paszkiewicz, while discussing Christianity, allowed it to be known that he is a Christian. Both things are allowed in public school. You objected to to the combination. That's a subtle error.

neither is dismissing two scientific theories in favor of biblical creationism;

There goes Paul's imagination, again.

Paszkiewicz offered a critique of the epistemology behind the Big Bang and where there were errors in his assessment, they were subtle. Paszkiewicz, for example, was correct that the modern formulation of the theory posits a big bang from nothing, a point that Matthew LaClair could have learned from the class but instead chose to challenge to the administration.

In 1982, Alexander Vilenkin proposed an extension of Tyron's idea and suggested that the Universe was created by quantum processes starting from "literally nothing", meaning not only the absence of matter, but the absence of space and time as well. Vilenkin took the idea of quantum tunneling and proposed that the Universe started in the totally empty geometry and then made a quantum tunneling transition to a non-empty state (subatomic in size), which through inflation (the Universe expands exponentially fast for a brief period of time which causes its size to increase dramatically) came to its current size.

Another idea is from Stephen Hawking and James Hartle. Hawking proposed a description of the Universe in its entirety, viewed as a self-contained entity, with no reference to anything that might have come before it. The description is timeless, in the sense that one set of equations delineates the Universe for all time. As one looks to earlier and earlier times, one finds that the model Universe is not eternal, but there is no creation event either. Instead, at times of the order of 10-43 seconds, the approximation of a classical description of space and time breaks down completely, with the whole picture dissolving into quantum ambiguity. In Hawking's words, the Universe "would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE."

http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=541

or claiming that the Bible is objectively sound because biblical prophecies have all been fulfilled to the letter;

Paul's imagination is on a roll. Thanks for confirming what I wrote earlier (albeit it will have to be an open-minded person willing to look into the recordings or transcripts to see the degree to which you are unhinged).

Paszkiewicz never said "all" according to the recordings and transcripts with which I am familiar (if LaClair relies on others for this claim, let him present the evidence), and it would be absurd to say "all" prophecies have been fulfilled to the letter because a substantial number of prophecies probably anticipate their fulfillment yet in the future (even respecting the Preterist position).

Paszkiewicz simply said that "many" prophecies had been fulfilled.

Why is my

faith rooted and grounded in the scriptures? Because of biblical

prophecy. That has come true within the letter and verifies the text.

Student M1: What were the prophecies?

Teacher: What were they? There were actually hundereds of 'em...

Student M1: ...that came true...

Teacher: New Testament, Old Testament?

LaClaire: The ones that came true.

Student M2: Go with easier.

Teacher: I'll give you a major Old Testament prophecy, I'll give you

two.

[gives one or two]

That's just one, there are many. And -

http://www.dranger.com/classtranscript.html

or telling kids that dinosaurs were on Noah's ark;

Heh. More lawyerly spin. LaClair knows that Paszkiewicz was asked if dinosaurs were on the ark (obviously soliciting his opinion) and Paszkiewicz answered with a yes and then returned to the more immediate topic.

Does LaClair think he could sue successfully if teachers answered questions like that routinely with a one-word answer apparently expressing an opinion?

As for the notion itself--I don't think that LaClair can prove that it was an error.

neither are a great many of this teacher's statements.

Somebody said that Paszkiewicz claimed that the United States did not exist until 1787. That's not true, is it? ;)

I'll assume that you don' t wish to discuss those statements that you do not name.

There was nothing subtle about them, but I doubt that Bryan will be persuaded, so perhaps we can agree to disagree.

I'll point Paul back to the issue, which is his lauding of the fact that the kids will be put straight on Paszkiewicz's supposed errors. The only errors mentioned in the statement were on evolution and the Big Bang. Respecting those topics, any errors by Paszkiewicz were subtle. LaClair implicitly underscores my point by trying to mine other areas in the attempt to contradict my statement.

I went to a rural school in the Midwest from K through 12, and none of my teachers ever once said anything that came anywhere close to what Paszkiewicz said in that classroom in just a few days.

No offense, but given your record here at KOTW I don't think you can be trusted to notice any and all significant errors. After all, you kicked off this thread with a blatant time line problem. It's possible that nobody noticed it until I pointed it out. Strange, huh?

I would welcome the school teaching the philosophy of science. The ADL will be doing that by clarifying what a scientific theory is. That was one of Mr. Paszkiewicz's mis-statements, which the ADL will be addressing.

Whether the ADL addresses it or not, it is not one of Paszkiewicz's misstatements. It is possible, in principle, for a scientific "fact" to prove incorrect. Thus, regardless of the conventions of language in the disciplines of science, Paszkiewicz is correct to draw attention to the greater uncertainty that accompanies claims about the unobservable past. If the ADL fails to make that distinction, then the school system may end up doing the students a disservice.

But LaClair can still be happy, since the mistake will favor his religion in the public school system. ;)

In the end, while we may disagree about the means, I am pleased that Bryan is satisfied with the outcome. We may see it differently, but like him, I would like to move on.

I didn't say I wouldn't enjoy continuing to discuss it. :)

Edited by Bryan

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Guest a proud american
Yes, we did try to find out the specifics. The Board didn't want to talk to us. You asked whether there was a difference between what the Board committed to do before we filed our Notice of Claim, and what they have agreed to do in our settlement agreement. There are three differences:

1) Although they publicly stated that they would conduct in-service training, they did not spell out who would do it, what its contents would be or when it would be done. They have now done that.

2) There was no commitment to addressing the issues with the student body. There is now.

3) The commitments they made were not legally enforceable. Now they are.

We would have tried to find a way to avoid filing the Notice if points 1 and 2 had been more firmly in place, but in the absence of a legally enforceable agreement, we still may have felt it necessary to preserve our rights.

You ask how the Board has acknowledged that Matthew's actions led to the accomplishment of important goals. They did that in two ways: first, by agreeing to have the ADL conduct student education on this subject, and second by including the following language in their commendation of Matthew: "Because of Matthew’s exemplary actions in standing up for his Constitutional rights and the integrity of education, often at the cost of his own popularity in the community and the school, the Board was able to take action to correct this situation and improve the educational environment for all students."

I don't think telling kids that they belong in hell if they don't share the teacher's religion is subtle; neither is dismissing two scientific theories in favor of biblical creationism; or claiming that the Bible is objectively sound because biblical prophecies have all been fulfilled to the letter; or telling kids that dinosaurs were on Noah's ark; neither are a great many of this teacher's statements. There was nothing subtle about them, but I doubt that Bryan will be persuaded, so perhaps we can agree to disagree. I went to a rural school in the Midwest from K through 12, and none of my teachers ever once said anything that came anywhere close to what Paszkiewicz said in that classroom in just a few days.

I would welcome the school teaching the philosophy of science. The ADL will be doing that by clarifying what a scientific theory is. That was one of Mr. Paszkiewicz's mis-statements, which the ADL will be addressing.

In the end, while we may disagree about the means, I am pleased that Bryan is satisfied with the outcome. We may see it differently, but like him, I would like to move on.

Paul, thank you and Matt for having the courage to stand up for the constitution and for principle. It is a great day for democracy and I hope this decision stands as a model for the rest of us. Religion will stay out of the public school system in Kearny and the religious right will now have to go somewhere else to spew their thoughts.

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Guest Dr. Ruth

I guess the last big question to be answered is:

Did Matthew get a date for the prom?

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Paul, thank you and Matt for having the courage to stand up for the constitution and for principle. It is a great day for democracy and I hope this decision stands as a model for the rest of us. Religion will stay out of the public school system in Kearny and the religious right will now have to go somewhere else to spew their thoughts.

In what sense is it a "great day for democracy" if a majority of the religious must go elsewhere to spew (express?) their thoughts?

Are you engaged in doublethink or what?

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Guest Paul
In what sense is it a "great day for democracy" if a majority of the religious must go elsewhere to spew (express?) their thoughts?

Are you engaged in doublethink or what?

It is a great day for democracy because democracy doesn't mean that the majority gets its way on everything. In a democracy, the minority's rights are respected and honored. In a democracy, not everything is decided by majority vote. There are some things that people in a democracy get to decide individually and for themselves, no matter what the majority thinks. One of the most important of these is religious preference.

The whole point of the First Amendment, and most of the Bill of Rights, is that some things are not subject to majority rule. One of the most important of those individual rights is freedom of religion. What part of this don't you get?

Freedom of religion doesn't mean that the majority, or culturally dominant religious group, gets to push its views on everyone else. It means exactly what it, says, which is that all people are free to worship as they see fit, free from interference by the state. That doesn't mean that a public employee gets to use his time on the taxpayers' payroll to spout his personal opinions, especially his relgious views. He is paid to do a job, not misuse the classroom as his personal pulpit or soapbox. In a public school, which is an arm of the state, that means that a state actor such as a teacher may not proselytize his religious views.

If he wishes to do that, he must go elsewhere to do it. He may still teach, but if he wishes to preach he must do it somewhere else. He can go to his church, he can go into the street, he can go door-to-door, he can go into the newspaper or on radio or television if the owner will allow him there --- he can go pretty much wherever he wants, but he can't do it in his classroom, especially when he's dismissing science with his ignorance, telling kids that dinosaurs were on Noah's ark and telling kids they belong in hell if they don't agree with him. That isn't teaching, it's indoctrination in intellectual slop. Shame on you for defending it.

What you are advocating, deny it as you will, is not a democracy, but a theocracy. Do you really think that in your version of the United States a Muslim would be allowed to express his religious views as freely as a Christian? If an atheist had stood in David Paszkiewicz's classroom and dogmatically announced that the Christian God is a myth, and then defending that proselytizing, is there the slightest doubt in your mind that he would have been fired within a week? Not one of you has been willing to address that question honestly or for more than the briefest moment. What implications does this have for equal treatment under the law, and "liberty and justice for all?" Have you considered the question, or do you not care? Do you have any idea what being in a religious minority is like, or how hard it is for anyone, let alone a child or teenager, to withstand the pressure of the cultural majority? Do you really believe that Christians are not free just because they may not push their religion on anyone and everyone, anywhere and anytime they choose? Do you have no concept of limits? Do you really think that religious minorities will remain free if the government does not protect their rights? Where is the historical example for that? Do you really think that laws can ever be absolute, or is it possible that legal principles must be taken in the practical context of the world? And when you get around to thinking about that context and these other issues that inform the law, if you ever do, what does your principle --- if you actually have one --- really mean for the rights and privileges of everyone in your country, not just those whose views are culturally dominant? Have you ever once thought about any of this, or were you too busy reconstructing the world to fit it into your biases?

The doublethink is yours. It is in proclaiming religious freedom that offers true freedom only to the majority and to those in power. That is the same absurd and unsustainable concept of "freedom" that led to legalized slavery, the "right" to own slaves, legally recognized and protected in the United Stated of America until after the Civil War. Why is this hard for you to understand? Why don't you see that this does not work? Or is it that you just don't want to see and understand it?

I've asked this question several times, and not one of you radical theocrats has answered it. The law in the United States is that each person is free to worship as he or she sees fit without interference from the state. It is a beautiful principle, hard-won and precious. Why isn't it the best rule, and why aren't you satisfied with it?

For months, you've been mindlessly but selectively nit-picking individual sentences and phrases, often out of context, as though you can make a coherent argument in tiny pieces. So go ahead, have a party: answer all these questions if you think you can. No doubt you'll come up with some meaningless words to convince yourself this is all possible. I count seventeen questions, and probably double or triple that numbers of statements. Have yourself a party. Comment on them all.

Bryan, there are people defending this teacher who don't have the intellectual muscle to know better, but you do. You have enough of a brain that you have no excuse, and so I say shame on you.

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For months, you've been mindlessly but selectively nit-picking individual sentences and phrases, often out of context, as though you can make a coherent argument in tiny pieces. So go ahead, have a party: answer all these questions if you think you can. No doubt you'll come up with some meaningless words to convince yourself this is all possible. I count seventeen questions, and probably double or triple that numbers of statements. Have yourself a party. Comment on them all.

Bryan, there are people defending this teacher who don't have the intellectual muscle to know better, but you do. You have enough of a brain that you have no excuse, and so I say shame on you.

What we've learned over the past 7 months is that Paul La Clair is an egomaniac who just cannot tolerate an opposing viewpoint. Those that disagree with him become targets of his invective, sarcasm and condescension. He accused Bryan of being mindless. Is it really necessary to respond to "mindless" people in posts consisting of hundreds of words? In the real world, you dismiss the claims of "mindless" people and they go away. The fact that Paul constantly feels the need to prove Bryan wrong demonstrates to me that Bryan has actually rocked Paul's world. I have even read Paul's posts criticizing Mr. P's views concerning scientific theories like the Big Bang and Evolution. He stated that a well known astrophysicist came out against Mr. P's views in a New York Times letter to the editor. All this shows me is that like Paul La Clair, this scientist felt threatened by a little old History teacher in Kearny NJ. He took time out of his busy astrophysicist schedule because he felt compelled to prove his position. I listened to the classroom recordings and I believe the logic of Mr. P's statement concerning the Big Bang was threatening to the astrophysicist.

When asked about the Big Bang theory Mr. P stated that the Big Bang says that in the begining there was nothing, then "nothing" exploded and created something. Mr. P's position was that this is a logical contradiction, if "nothing" existed, then "nothing" exploded. I know that some would say that its not that there was "nothing" according to the theory, but all of the matter in the entire universe was condensed into a single, dense, pinpoint in the universe, but this would be a greater miracle than any found in Genesis! Why would Paul and an astrophysicist be threatened by this if it were mere nonsense? The fact is, its not, and this makes them uncomfortable, because if there is a God, they will be accountable to Him.

PS: Another thought concerning Bryan, Paul is jealous because he is the Lawyer, yet Bryan makes a better case! :D

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