In November, a California appeals court ruled against Moyer. The threemember court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the student’s statements as quoted in the newspaper, In Flight, were meant as opinion, not fact.
In its decision, the court said the “worst teacher’’ statement “was simply an expression of anger or disgust on the studentspeaker’s part’’ and found the “babbler’’ statement “a form of exaggerated expression conveying the studentspeaker’s disapproval of [Moyer’s] teaching or speaking style.’'
A Jump In Enrollment
Public school enrollments for the 1990-91 school year increased by more than 400,000 students over the previous year and passed the 41 million mark for the first time since the early 1980s, according to a survey conducted by Market Data Retrieval, a private marketing firm.
Overall, elementary enrollments increased by 450,000 to 22,450,000, and middle schools grew by 208,000 to 7,172,000. High schools, meanwhile, dropped by 250,000 to 11,638,000. The biggest gain this year was in California, which enrolled 160,000 more students than last year.
Creationism And The Curriculum
When Ray Webster, a junior high school social studies teacher in New Lenox, Ill., began to introduce tenets of what he called “creation science’’ into his class along with traditional material on evolution, his district superintendent told him to cut it out.
A disgruntled Webster sought relief from the federal courts, claiming the superintendent was violating his First and 14th Amendment rights. No relief was forthcoming.
In November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court decision when it ruled that teachers enjoy no constitutional right to ignore school directives in order to present creationism in the classroom.
“The First Amendment is not a teacher license for uncontrolled expression at variance with established curricular content,’' the appellate court said.
Lawyers on both sides of the dispute say the decision marks the first time a federal appeals court has ruled on whether a teacher can present creationism in class after being ordered by a district not to do so.
A version of this article appeared in the February 01, 1991 edition of Teacher as In Brief