Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Religion in Public Schools: Do you know what is allowed???

As a public school classroom teacher, do you know what is allowable when it comes to you or your students practicing religious beliefs at school ? In San Diego, the San Diego School District "folded" a charter school which featured a class in the Arabic language and made prayer time part of their daily routine, with a nearby "regular" elementary school. Apparently, this charter school had primarily served the children of San Diego's growing Somali immigrant community, the vast majority of whom are Muslim. A substitute teacher, Mary-Frances Stephens complained to the school board that this elementary school where she was assigned had her teaching a "segregated class" of Muslim girls and that according to the lesson plan she was given, it included prayer time, in "violation of administrative, legislative and judicial guidelines." The prayers were led by a teachers aide. ( you can find the article in the San Diego Union-Tribue online at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/education/20070411-9999-7m11sdskul.html )

FYI, devout Muslims pray, prostrating themselves toward Mecca, five times daily. At least one of the suggested prayer times falls during what can normally be school hours. And, IIRC, public schools, if so requested, are supposed to find a quiet, private place at the school for Muslim students to preform their prayer.

The SDUSD said they set up the class following U.S. Department of Education guidelines, and that the Federal Government has recently granted school districts more freedom in offering single sex classes. According to USDOE guidelines, it is permissible for students to pray in school "during recess, the lunch hour or other non-instructional time." Public school employees may not encourage, direct or discourage prayers of actively participate in them with students, but teachers "may take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities."

IMO, this sub-teacher, Ms. Stephens, was way out of line. Perhaps she hasn't heard of something called the First Amendment, or perhaps she is under the impression that it excludes everyone except Christians? I wonder about her purpose for complaining. Are there not other substitute teaching jobs in San Diego? If she didn't like this subbing job, why not go to another? Did she discuss these issues with the school principal?

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