high school student finds conservative bias

photo by Jeremy Sparig for The New York Timesadded May 2, 2008
For links to other posts on LaClair, see this post on the Five Public Opinions blog. Click here for a transcript of his acceptance speech for the FFRF 2007 Thomas Jefferson Student Activist Award, and click here for an audio recording of the speech.

In a new (April 27, 2008) Op-Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Kearny NJ high-school senior Matthew LaClair writes about false and biased statements in the American Government textbook used in one of his classrooms. (Note: the LA Times article will probably be archived after a week or so, after which it will no longer be available for free on their site.)

He begins by relating the tale of what happened to him in his junior year, when he blew the whistle on a history teacher who

… used the first week of class to preach his religious beliefs. He told students, among other things, that they “belong in hell” if they reject Jesus as their savior, that evolution and the Big Bang are ridiculous and unscientific theories, and that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark.

As reported last year in the NY Times, LaClair was harassed, to the point of a death threat, before he was vindicated. The New York Times website has archived audio files of the history teacher’s proselytizing in class, as recorded and released by LaClair.

6 Comments

  1. dskulkis
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    UHHHH….the post STARTS by saying there is bias in a textbook, and then FAILS to give any examples, but instead sites the reports of bias IN A TEACHER’S TEACHING…I can teach from a neutral book and insert my own beliefs.

    Hmmm…Seems that is what pretty much ALL of the major media do DAILY (such as the references LA Times and NY Times). Not to mention a vast majority of college professors and high school teacher and there excessively vocal union (thug) leadership.

    Next time you try to make a point, you should probably support it. Of course, being a good liberal (as I assume you are), it is the mere appearance or suggestion of wrong-doing that will get your undies in a bunch, instead of actual truth…

    LIBERALISM: Never let the truth get in the way of belief!

  2. asad123
    Posted May 1, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    This is an example of educational malpractice. A teacher does not have the right to act as a moral judge and condemn students to Hell.

  3. Posted May 2, 2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Ahem.

    Dear dskulkis:
    RTFA, please. Since you did not, I will quote one instance of bias in the textbook from this guy’s Op-Ed piece

    For example, the section on global warming begins with a few well-chosen words to set the tone: “It is a foolish politician who today opposes environmentalism. And that creates a problem because not all environmental issues are equally deserving of support. Take the case of global warming.”

    The authors neglect to mention the growing scientific consensus on this subject. They dismiss those who are concerned about global warming — that is, the overwhelming majority of scientists — as “activists” motivated not by data but by “entrepreneurial politics.” Those who deny or downplay it are described as “skeptical scientists.”

    Disagree if you want, but if you’re going to go on a big ol’ thing about ‘good liberal’ this and ‘OMG site examples!’ that….perhaps you should read the article and check if maybe you’re right first.

  4. dskulkis
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    AHHHHHEM….

    brynafield….RTFA to you too, my silly friend.

    “Growing scientific consesus”??? Science is NOT a matter of consensus. POLITICS is. Global warming is a POLITICAL matter.

    REAL data recently released by NASA (who has supported the THEORY of man-made global warming) shows that within the last 10 years temperatures have stabilized, and are now projecting GLOBAL COOLING for the next 10 years or so because of a shift in ocean currents which has dropped the surface temperatures.

    UH OH!!!! But I’m sure they will find a way to blame this cooling on mad-made warming…er…not sure how, but they will.

    You blindly accept the “consensus” that GW is real, DESPITE evidence to the contrary…and you will likewise comdemn any politician that does not agree. Thus, when a book says a politician is foolish for not supporting GW theory, it is an accurate political statement, and not biased at all. Anyone who does not believe is immediately heaped upon with scorn by talking heads in the media that accept as fact anything told to them.

    I just find it odd that in a article that is TITLED in such a way as to condemn pulications, there were no copied and pasted examples…such as you yourself did. I expect a GOOD WRITER to summarize with example in the text…not send me off to 10 other articles to read. Lazy, poor writing by somebody that just expects everybody to accept his premise.

    But he DID cite specific examples for his OFF-TOPIC paragraph slamming religion. Big surpirse!! And I AGREEEEEEE that the teacher was wrong. But I hardly think that ONE TEACHER makes for conservative bias.

  5. Posted May 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    For some reason, “dskulkis” thinks I should have written a summary that people could read instead of reading LaClair’s own article. What would I be contributing if I did that?

    My post lets people know about LaClair’s article and where they can read it, and also provides links to background — including the audio recordings — for the events last year. These were not included on the LA Times site, so that’s the “value added” beyond what readers will find on the Times site.

    There are many posts on this blog that do nothing more than provide links to other places for readers interested in curriculum matters. People who don’t want to bother reading will not want to bother with this blog.

  6. Kevin Currie
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    dskulkis,

    You may want to quit while you are behind. Otherwise, you will make yourself look even more like someone who writes before they think.

    ““Growing scientific consesus”??? Science is NOT a matter of consensus. POLITICS is. Global warming is a POLITICAL matter.”

    You WOULD BE right if you meant that science is not A DEMOCRACY. But science IS a matter of consensus. A theory may be true or false independent of a scientific consensus, but the best indicator we have of a theory’s acceptability is that increasing numbers of scientists are convinced by it. (I do not care how many politicians are convinced by the politics of global warming; I care how many people who are knowledgeable about climatology and meteorology are convinced by the THEORY of global warming.)

    And to say that global warming is a POLITICAL issue is – to be blunt – stupidity! Whiel there may be political ramifications if the theory is true or false, the issue of whether the overall climate of the earth is warming is not a political, but a scientific, question. (Are you implying that it is a political hoax? If so, you are no better than a conspiracy theorist.)

    “And I AGREEEEEEE that the teacher was wrong. But I hardly think that ONE TEACHER makes for conservative bias.”

    The student did not accuse the school of having a conservative slant, but a teacher. (Did you read the article?)


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