Faith & Public Education: Rights & Responsibilities
Mainstream Baptist printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:26:40 PM EST
Ethics Daily has posted a free 20 page resource guide for advocacy and action in support of public schools.

This is a very good way to begin moving from Talk to Action on this issue of vital importance to democracy.

Below the fold is a section that I prepared for the guide on "Rights and Responsibilities" in regard to religion in the public schools.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

*    Parents have the right to expect that instruction in public schools will maintain neutrality in regard to religion.  All teaching about religion must be objective, balanced and non-devotional.

*    Parents have the right and responsibility to supervise the religious education and practices of their children.

*    Parents should not expect the public school curriculum to conform to the beliefs of any religion or sect.  Those who believe that instruction in science and/or scientific methodology conflicts with their religious beliefs have a variety of options:  1) Children may be removed from public schools and placed in private schools or home schools that teach science in accord with the parent's religious beliefs.  2) Parents may leave their children in public schools and see that their children get additional private instruction at home and/or their house of worship concerning accepted religious interpretations and understandings of science.

School Administration Rights and Responsibilities

*    School Administrators have the right to expect the respect of parents, students and the community.  They have the right to expect that all will support a school system that respects the right of every parent to supervise the religious education and practices of their own children.  

*    School Administrators have a responsibility to ensure that all religious exercises within a public school setting are voluntary and that no one could be singled out for disapprobation or ridicule for objecting to participating in a compulsory religious exercise.   Public, communal prayers at assemblies, graduations and sporting events are prohibited.  Moments for silent prayer and/or reflection are permissible.

Teacher Rights and Responsibilities

*    Teachers have the right to expect the respect of both parents and students.  They have the right to expect parents to support measures to adequately compensate them in a measure that is proportional to the level of their proficiency and tenure within their profession.

*    Public school teachers represent the government when they are in the classroom.  When acting in an official capacity, they have a responsibility to remain strictly neutral on matters of religion.  Teachers who are on-duty are not free to lead public schools students in prayer and/or devotional Bible study.

*    Those teaching the scientific method and the natural sciences must do so without advocating any metaphysical understanding of ultimate reality.

*    Those teaching art, history, literature, music and the social sciences have a responsibility to incorporate information about the role of religion within their field of study in an objective, balanced and non-devotional way.  Students should not feel pressured to accept or conform to any religion.

*    Whenever religious beliefs are discussed in the classroom, teachers have a responsibility to ensure that dialogue is conducted with civility and in a manner that respects the consciences of all participants.

*    When off-campus, out of the classroom, and not acting in an official capacity, public school teachers are free to pray publicly, lead Bible studies, speak about their faith, and engage in proselytizing activities.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

*    Students have the right to a free conscience.  No one has the right to ridicule their religious beliefs.

*    Students have the responsibility to respect the consciences of others.   Students may question, but not ridicule, the religious beliefs of others.

*    Students have the right to learn about the role of religion in art, literature, music, social sciences and in the history of civilizations without being pressured to accept or conform to any religion.

*    Students have the right to express their religious beliefs at appropriate times in a respectful manner.  Within the classroom, students are not free to pressure others to accept or conform to religious beliefs or practices.

*    Students have the right to silently pray throughout the day as their class schedules permit.

*    Students have the right to pray, read the Bible, or read any other religious book of their choosing on a voluntary basis during their free time.




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It is in PDF format, so it can be easily reproduced.

by Mainstream Baptist on Fri May 12, 2006 at 01:29:20 PM EST
How about "Faith and Public Education: Rights and Responsibilities" ?

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 02:02:52 PM EST
Parent
Ethics Daily called it:

"Religion and Public Schools:  Rights and Responsibilities:  An Informational Document"

That's a little long.

by Mainstream Baptist on Fri May 12, 2006 at 03:01:46 PM EST
Parent

I'm glad to have suggested the minor title modification - a small contribution.

In my opinion, calling this an "informational document" is an injustice - I think it's a framework for sorting out the whole tangled mess.

Few have even been aware of the need. I wasn't. But now it seems so obvious to me - of course !

by Bruce Wilson on Sat May 13, 2006 at 06:17:32 PM EST
Parent





I'm thinking of ways to publicize it. You've done some extremely important thinking on this - I think what you've written deserves national circulation wider than what Talk To Action currently can provide.

Who knows - It's conceivable that one of the national educator's group might publish this as a story.


by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 02:00:23 PM EST

This is just an expansion of work I did for a speech I gave years ago.

Here's a link to that speech:

From Battle Ground to Common Ground:  Teaching About Religion in Public Schools

by Mainstream Baptist on Fri May 12, 2006 at 03:07:04 PM EST
Parent

If we know exactly when and prime our network, we can try to get it on the Rec list.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 03:20:23 PM EST
Parent
with a great big note sayhing that it's Crossposted from Talk to Action!

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri May 12, 2006 at 03:21:42 PM EST
Parent




Public Schools are a public domain in that the State pays the costs.  These cost are collected via public taxation.  Therefore Schools are a State domain.  If you recall during the Dark Ages the Church had the power of the state in that the Church could levy and collect its own taxes, collect and burn books deemed inappropiate and hold court, and put to death those who commited act deemed unacceptable. If you recall Nostradamus had to encode his predictions for fear that the Church would put him to death for heresy. Scholars had to hide books.  Have we learned nothing?  Are we to repeat history?  The State and the Church must remain seperate.
Facilitator Peter

by Facilitator Peter on Sat May 13, 2006 at 01:32:49 PM EST


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