Thursday, April 10, 2008

Two Stories, One High School Student

Matthew LaClair is a troublemaker.

Last year, he brought a law suit against his high school (in New Jersey!) for a history teacher's utter failure to make the separation between church and state in the classroom. He secretly taped the teacher saying things like, "only Christians had a place in heaven, that the Big Bang and evolution theories were not scientific and that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark." (Did I mention that I live in New Jersey too?)

Other than the fact that I'm still getting over this sort of thing happening in New Jersey (!), there are two sentences I find alarming in this article. First: "After the tapes became public, Matthew received a death threat and was shunned and bullied by some of his classmates, he has said." Wow. It's unbelievable to me that his actions would actually be cause for people to shun someone. If this had happened in my high school, I'm pretty sure we would have thrown him a parade.

Second: "In the fall, the board reprimanded the teacher and later adopted a policy barring students from taping in class without a teacher’s permission." I find this vaguely unsettling. What if another teacher is saying wildly inappropriate things in the classroom? How can students prepare themselves to keep church out of school if the school makes rules against what Mr. LaClair did? Very shady if you ask me.

Anyway. Sometimes you don't need a tape; the evidence is already written down and published.

You can't keep a good rabble-rouser down, and he's causing some more trouble in history class. This time, his beef is with a textbook that plays down the causes and impacts of global warming. (For example, although millions of people might lose their homes as coastlines are flooded, they won't have to pay as much for heating! Yay!)

Whether you agree with him or not, this guy deserves a lot of credit for standing up to The Man. Freethinking is not taught in most high schools; anyone who comes away with that particular skill is likely to be self-taught. Mr. LaClair, I salute you.

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