"Everything you do in the classroom is teaching"

Plaintiffs testify at afternoon session

This afternoon, three plaintiffs in our case testified regarding school board meetings they attended and their feelings about the curriculum change. Julie Smith, Christy Rehm, and Beth Eveland all took the stand.

Mrs. Rehm, who is a teacher in a public school outside of York County, testified about the impact of behaviors in the classroom.

“As a teacher, I feel teachers in general have been harmed,” she stated. “Everything you do in the classroom is teaching. How I dress is teaching. Statements I don’t make teach my students.”

“This has spilled over into other classes,” she continued. “Children of school board members say, ‘Do you think we came from monkeys? How can you think we came from monkeys?'”

Mrs. Rehm is the mother of four children, including a daughter in the ninth grade.

Earlier, Julie Smith conveyed her concerns about the impact of school events on her family’s religious life.

According to Mrs. Smith, her teenage daughter said, “Mom, evolution’s a lie. What kind of Christian are you?”

Mrs. Eveland discussed board meetings, calling them “a circus-like atmosphere.”

“I remember [Dover School Board member] Bill Buckingham saying, ‘2,000 years ago someone died on a cross. Isn’t someone going to take a stand for him?'”

Mrs. Eveland responded by sending a letter to school officials and a letter to the editor of the York Daily Record, which the paper published. When Steve Harvey, our attorney who handled direct questioning, asked her to read the letter, opposing counsel objected, calling it “hearsay.”

“Why is it hearsay?” Judge Jones asked.

After listening to the defense counsel’s point, his honor asked, “Who wrote the letter?”

“She did.”


In a final note, reporters from two York newspapers agreed to testify under a strict factual order from Judge Jones. Thus, opposing counsel cannot ask the reporters about their personal beliefs.

Submitted by Andy Hoover, community education organizer, ACLU of PA

8 thoughts on “"Everything you do in the classroom is teaching"

  1. Not sure what to make of all this. Sounds like establishing types of testimony. Sad to hear daughter’s reprimand of mom…ignorance is not bliss.


  2. It is sad that this is splitting families, but that bit of testimony is very powerful. It has emotional appeal and “What kind of Christian are you?” betrays religious motivations behind rejecting evolution.

  3. Is it possible to get a little more meat in these posts? Although levity in the courtroom is a good read, whether because of the “Big Ten” theory or a ridiculous objection, it doesn’t give me an indication of where this trial is going. I seriously doubt the lawyer for the defendent is inept as could be inferred from this post.

  4. …splitting families…

    Remember when Bush campaigned on the slogan, “I’m a uniter, not a divider”?

    This is smptomatic of that lie. Such irony. I’ve never seen this country more divided over so many issues in my 50 + years.

    Yet he stands behind the divisiveness of this issue. His political viabiliity depends on devisiveness. Without it, he would not have been elected this last time, probably not the first time. All he needs to do, is take the advice of his own science advisor, come out in favor of science in the science class, and the issue would be moot, from a federal point of view. Instead, he stokes the flames.

    Sorry to digress from the topic at hand.

  5. I seriously doubt the lawyer for the defendent is inept as could be inferred from this post.

    Objecting to a letter written by the witness as hearsy is handled in the first year of law school. It’s clearly not hearsay. I suspect it was a tactical objection, one which he did not expect to have sustained. Exactly what the tactic was, however, I’m not sure

  6. I imagine the meat that is missing in the post is because, it seems to me, when you agree with someone, you don’t waste a lot of time developing argument for what they are saying. However, I imagine that this will be more filled when the defendants make there case.

    I don’t know if daily transcripts of the trial are yet available, but that would make for a far more interesting discussion.

    That being said, this is an issue of what should be taught in science class, science or something that is clearly not science. Because of the nature of the argument at hand, some of the actions of the opposing council will simply seem ridiculous to the lawyers of the ACLU.

    Likewise, pro-ID sites will have the same issue when their part of the trial starts. I’ll bet currently that they have some very interesting (but probably easily denounced) things to say about the arguments in the trial today.

    Does anyone have any links to these?

  7. Truth be told, this trial is a lot about the nature of concepts and the nature of language. An issue that really resides at the heart of the matter but cannot be addressed legally, I’m pretty sure, is how written language is interpreted (e.g. biblical studies)and the consequences of stumbling over either a mistranslation or a simple literal misreading of a word or phrase. Not only are we tussling with literalism, we are several conceptual generations down the road of one idea morphing into another, until the use or meaning of a source is so mangled or astray that dangerous or unintended consequences ensue. To be sure, this is science vs. non-science in court, but the original issue is how language and concepts are vulnerable to grotesque or simplistic interpretation.

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