VERNON HILLS, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — Despite some calls for a Libertyville High School science teacher to be fired for teaching creationism in a biology class, the Community High School District 128 board has decided to keep him on.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s David Roe reports, dozens of parents attended a meeting Tuesday night, during which Buffalo Grove atheist activist Rob Sherman accused teacher Beau Schaefer of making reference to creationism in class.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s David Roe reports
Other parents and students also spoke out on both sides of the issue.
“My daughter is devastated by this. Our family has spent every day talking about this. It is an outrage that this teacher who has lost all effectiveness, and all ability to teach, is allowed to remain in the classroom,” said Libertyville parent Duncan Millar, in video of the Tuesday night meeting posted by Patch.com.
But Richard Valkanet, senior pastor of the Living Waters Assembly of God in Grayslake, characterized the situation a reverse of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which a teacher was criminally charged and put on trial in Tennessee for teaching evolution in violation of state law, Patch reported.
In the Patch video, Valkanet claimed that in 1925, teacher John Scopes had asked to allow evolution to be taught as an “alternative,” and claimed further that “today, the most up-to-date science is showing that evidence is really bankrupt.”
One student in Schaefer’s class, who wished not to be identified, said Schaefer explained creationism only as a theory, not a scientific theory.
“Mr. Schaefer is my teacher and I don’t think it’s right that people should be mad at him,” the student said, adding she did not want to see him lose his job.
Arika Egan, a senior at Mundelein High School, heard about the issue via a posting on Facebook. She said she had no problem with being given the opportunity to learn about creationism.
“From the way I see it as a student who goes to high school, I want to get everything I can out of every one of my classes,” Egan said.
Ultimately, the board voted not to fire Schaefer.
But in a statement read at the meeting by District 128 Supt. Prentiss Lea, the board said it had found that a teacher had “referenced and/or taught creationism in biology classes,” and this was categorically unacceptable.
“The issue at hand is not, and I repeat now, whether referencing or teaching creationism in our science classes is acceptable and appropriate. It is not,” the statement said. “The United States Supreme Court and several other federal court decisions have found that creationism may not be referenced or taught in public school science classrooms.”
On his Web site, Sherman said Schaefer had “become a major international embarrassment to himself.”
“Last night, my sister mentioned some typical arguments creationists use to discredit evolution i.e. ‘carbon-dating doesn’t work,’ ‘macroevolution doesn’t exist,’ and ‘there are very few transition fossils.’ After shooting them all down, I asked who had told her such incredible lies,” read the letter, which was published on Sherman’s Web site. “She said she learned them in biology class. Did I mention she attends Libertyville High School, a public school?”
Sherman also published a worksheet he says is from Schaefer’s class, which instructed students to “explain why macroevolution is not testable or observable and thus not scientific,” and asks how the “Cambrian explosion” – the relatively rapid appearance of most major phyla around 530 million years ago – and “irreducible complexity” support “intelligent design (creation.)”