Psalm 11:3 asks the question: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Since teachers are employed as agents of the state, they cannot require students to engage in devotional activities; however, this does not make schools religious-free zones for public school children. While the state cannot impose any particular religious belief on students, students are free to express their own religious beliefs. Most importantly, educators must understand that it is not illegal for public schools to include academic studies about religion in high school curricula. Students can learn about religion, including the Bible, wherever such teaching is presented “objectively as part of a secular program of education.” In guidelines sent to every school district in America in 1995 and again in 1998, the U.S. Department of Education reiterated that public schools “may not provide religious instruction, but they may teach about religion, including the Bible or other sacred scripture.” In keeping with the First Amendment’s mandate of governmental neutrality toward religion, the study of religion in a public school must be educational, not devotional. This same principle holds true whether teaching about the Bible occurs in literature, history, art, music, or any other class, and whether the class is required or is an elective course http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/08-1995/religion.html ).
Undoubtedly, many other English teachers can relate to my deep concerns over the lack of Biblical literacy skills among high school students. I am sure that many are also troubled about the obvious societal ignorance of the knowledge and wisdom found in the Hebrew Bible. Perhaps some educators can even agree that classroom teachers have a responsibility to our students and to society to teach lessons on morals and values that will help strengthen character development. My premise is that simply agreeing with the truth is not enough. All educators must become agents of action. We must be willing to work today to produce the desired fruits that we hope will be manifested in tomorrow’s society. Why not begin repairing the breeches in our educational foundations now? Mahatma Gandhi wisely said, “The future depends on what you do today.”
My professional convictions prompt me to devote my present and future years to the goal of providing academic initiatives and resources for the acquisition of Biblical literacy and values education. My aim is to help close this foundational breach in public education. The ultimate objective is to strengthen students' understanding and help build sound character traits through a values education that will benefit our entire society. I plan to provide academic resources for teachers and students (grades seven through twelve) in the forms of books, newsletters, lesson plans, after-school Bible literacy activities (e.g., Scholastic/Bible Bowl teams and tournament study guides), “life skills” lessons and writing prompts from the Book of Proverbs for character and values education.I will also facilitate online professional development academic workshops/seminars for English and social studies teachers. These academic and values education lessons and activities can be used in other settings, such as after-school on and off-campus Scholastic Bowl clubs, off-campus youth and adult Bible study groups, and community Bible Bowl competitions. For more information, please visit my website: Academic Initiatives for Biblical Literacy (AIBL) at: www.AIBL.info or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.