Saturday, August 29, 2009

Religion in Public Schools - Dept. of Education Standards

A public school student in Texas was to give a book report. The 6th grader did the report on Psalm 23, but was stopped by the teacher. When the mother asked the teach why, she was told "it is not allowed."

And another student in California was surprised when the public school principal removed the cover of the student's notebook. What was the offense? The cover showed children praying in front of the American flag.

The examples are representative of a deep misunderstanding in our country about the meaning of the Constitution's First Amendment. It prohibits Congress from making a law establishing a national religion. However, some believe that a metaphor used by Thomas Jefferson, separation of church and state, describes the First Amendment's intent.

This not necessary. The Alliance Defense Fund points out that the U.S. Department of Education lists various activities that are allowed in public school, and the book report or notebook cover do not violate this list. The DOE's section that applies to the above examples says:

“Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Such home and classroom work should be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school. Thus, if a teacher’s assignment involves writing a poem, the work of a student who submits a poem in the form of a prayer (for example, a psalm) should be judged on the basis of academic standards (such as literary quality) and neither penalized nor rewarded on account of its religious content.”

I'm not sure how much clearer it could be.

Read more here.

No comments: