Teacher who taught creationism keeps job
BY STEPHANIE KOHL AND DAN ROZEK Sun-Times Media March 23, 2011 12:02AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
A Libertyville High School science teacher who referenced creationism in a biology class will not be fired, school officials announced Tuesday night.
Teacher Beau Schaefer, described as a “longstanding District 128 educator,’’ discussed creationism in a classroom lesson about evolution, officials said, but he has been instructed not to do so in the future and he will not lose his job.
In a statement read at school board meeting Tuesday, Libertyville Supt. Prentiss Lea 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.’’
Lea said the teacher “cooperated fully’’ with officials investigating the allegations, and he has been told not to discuss creationism in the future.
“We will not be recommending his termination as this is remediable behavior,” Lea said.
Dozens of students, parents and residents attended Tuesday night’s meeting after atheist activist Rob Sherman, of Buffalo Grove, originally brought the incident to the board’s attention last month.
Duncan Millar, a Libertyville High School parent, said the teacher violated several codes and laws and called for his firing.
Kurt Close, a 2008 Libertyville High School graduate, said not only is the teaching of creationism unacceptable, so is the time that was lost while creationism was discussed.
“Even if it’s about a debate between the two [creationism and evolution], I think it complicates what should be conveyed with taxpayer dollars,” Close said.
But Greg and Kathy Krause, who are also parents of students in the district, said they have no problem with the mention of creationism in the classroom.
The students “can make their own decision,” said Kathy Krause. “Why can’t they make their own decision? What is the big fear?’’
One student in Schaefer’s class, who asked not to be named, said Schaefer explained creationism was 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.
Sherman said he wasn’t seeking to have Schaefer fired, but said he wanted the science instructor barred from teaching creationism in his biology classes.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled creationism is a religious, not a scientific theory, and shouldn’t be taught alongside evolutionary theory in science classrooms.
“Creationism isn’t science. You don’t teach it in a science class,” Sherman said.