Religion in Public School – Article Review

This EDUC 200 assignment required us students to research an article of our choice from the Phi Delta Kappan about any of the following controversial topics: Teacher tenure, the rights of teachers to private lives, prayer in school, performance pay for teachers, teacher liability, or religious freedom in education. I chose the latter. After reading the article, we were to write a two-paragraph response, the first paragraph being a summary of the article, and the second paragraph being our points of agreement/disagreement. I really enjoyed reading Haynes’ article and recommend that you read it as well (you can find it here). I received a grade of 100% on this assignment.

Getting Religion Right in Public Schools

Haynes’ (2011) article, “Getting Religion Right in Public Schools,” urged schools to begin viewing religion and its role in the classroom correctly. Currently, most schools are resorting to one or the other of two extreme, unconstitutional positions. Biblically-based schools make one religion foundational in the school, while completely secular schools promote “the mistaken idea that freedom of religion requires public schools to be free from religion” (Ibid, para. 22). Haynes proposed another, more balanced alternative: religiously-neutral schools, where students can freely exercise their faith, and the curriculum contains unbiased religious topics, but where the teachers and faculty must treat religion impartially. Haynes maintained that having the right perspective of religion in the educational system is vital to having the right perspective in the public sector.

Haynes’ (2011) proposal for the adoption of religiously-neutral education described an excellent solution for ending religious controversy in public schools; however, his assumption that widespread implementation is imminent was unfounded. Haynes was correct in stating that government-funded schools should neither promote one particular religion nor leave religion out of the classroom entirely. Kauchak & Eggen (2014) agreed that “avoiding the study of religion leaves students in a cultural vacuum that shortchanges their education” (p. 261). However, current events counter Haynes’ position that the days of peaceful, religiously-neutral classrooms are close at hand. On the contrary, controversies over religion and education seem more widespread and even more bizarre than ever. Recent examples include a teacher banning Christ from the classroom (Starnes, 2014), and another teacher suspending a student for saying the prohibited phrase, “bless you” (Clark, 2014). While bringing the proper perspective of religion back into classrooms is an excellent ideal, it is evident that “future legal battles over this emotion-laden issue are likely” (Kauchak & Eggen, 2014, p. 262).

References

Clark, M. (2014, August 19). Student reportedly suspended after saying ‘bless you’. WMC Action News 5. Retrieved from http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/26320134/dyer-county-student-reportedly-suspended-after-saying-bless-you

Haynes, C. C. (2011). Getting religion right in public schools: if we can’t get this right in public schools, we have little hope of getting this right in the public square of what is now the most religiously diverse nation on earth. Phi Delta Kappan, 93(4), 8+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA282444021&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=96ecc58f12b2c273a60be6e46eba4cbd

Kauchak, D., & Eggen, P. (2014). Introduction to teaching: Becoming a professional [5th ed.]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Starnes, T. (2014, January 7). Teacher tells 6-year-old ‘Jesus is not allowed in school.’ Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/07/teacher-tells-6-year-old-jesus-is-not-allowed-in-school/

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