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A Tale Of Two School Districts: How To Deal With Religion In Public Education

Every September, we brace ourselves here at Americans United because we know the new school year will spark a fresh round of squabbles about the proper role of religion in public education.

Indeed, we're seeing some already. Two recent stories – one from Kentucky and one from Iowa – showcase two very different ways of dealing with this contentious topic.

In Breckinridge County, Ky., parent Michelle Ammons is angry because a football coach took 20 players to a revival meeting where a number of them were baptized, without parental permission. Ammons' son was among them. Read more

Martyr Complex: Florida School Officials Face Possible Penalties For Pushing Religion

No one is above the law.

That's a lesson that officials at a Florida public high school seem intent on learning the hard way.

Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and his athletic director, Robert Freeman, have been charged with criminal contempt for violating a federal court order that banned Santa Rosa County school officials from leading students in prayer during school events. Read more

Amen To Abington: High Court Decision Preserved Children's Religious Liberty

I grew up in Ohio in late '80s through the '90s. My parents, sisters and I were one of the few South Asian families in town, and I was one of only two Hindu students in my graduating class of nearly 350 students.

Fortunately for me, it mattered little that I was Hindu and most of my classmates were Christian. I can't really remember any time the school brought in religion -- a rarity I appreciated living so close to the Bible belt.

But had I been in sixth grade in 1962 rather than 1992, things might have been different. Read more

School Daze: Religious Right Still Can't Grasp Separation Of Church And School

Yesterday, I took the day off to attend a special end-of-the-year event at my son's school: He and other members of his fifth-grade class wrote and illustrated stories, which they bound in books and read aloud to visiting parents.

As I surveyed the classroom full of eager students and proud parents, I couldn't help but be struck by the diversity. All races were represented, and several kids mentioned being born in other countries. Read more

Minding The Mentors: Wash. State School Restricts Proselytizing By Volunteers

A public school in Washington state has decided to stop school volunteers from proselytizing while on campus.

It's an overdue policy -- and the subject of one of my blogs from months ago. We'd like to commend officials at the Marysville School District for responding to complaints from concerned parents and taking this step in the right direction. Read more

Kindergarten Kerfuffle: Kids Shouldn't Be Captive Audience For Religion, Says Court

My kindergarten teacher Ms. Valentino had certain non-sectarian pedagogical goals: She wanted us to learn to share, to respect our teachers, to obey our parents and to recognize letters, shapes and sounds. I think she did a fine job, and I look back on her small classroom in the annex of P.S. 42 quite fondly.

I especially loved show and tell. Once I brought in my teddy bear, and the next time my hamsters (a terrible experience it was when Mars got loose and was eaten by Mark Spindler's pet snake!). Read more

Pomp And Circumvention: Graduating Senior Had No Right To Substitute Sermon For Speech, Says Court

Students break the rules and schools discipline them.

It's not a revolutionary concept, yet the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was forced to issue a ruling Friday that said just that.

The decision stemmed from a controversy over a graduation speech at a Colorado public high school, and the opinion reaffirms that school officials have every right to maintain religious neutrality at commencements. Read more

Diplomas And Disrespect: Public Schools Should Not Force Religion On Graduating Seniors

This summer, I will celebrate my 10-year high school reunion. In fact, just last week I received a Facebook message from our class president to "save the date" (which, as a side note, I doubt I will be "saving").

But reading the message got me thinking. High school can be a tough place, but there definitely were some good times. And one of those times was putting on my cap and gown to celebrate finally getting out of there! Read more

Bible Brouhaha: Idaho Activist Wants (His) Religion In Public Schools

A 77-year-old retired public school teacher is fighting for the Bible to be taught in Idaho's schools, according to a report in the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Chuck Sheldon, founder and executive director of the group Our Godly American Heritage, claims he wants to see an academic course on the Bible to be taught as an elective. He believes the Idaho Constitution's provision stating that "no sectarian or religious tenets or doctrines shall ever be taught in the public schools" has been standing in his way. Read more

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