The Public School Educator's Dilemma
(Teaching Morals/Values in a “Politically Correct” World)
In 1978, I began my teaching career in Virginia where I taught high school English for over thirty-five years. As a Christian educator, I believe that teaching is my God-given assignment for life to be used as a tool for the betterment of this world. Many times in the public school classroom, I felt inhibited as a Christian educator. Because of the ever-present threat of infringing upon “separation of church and state” laws, I refrained from teaching lessons that I knew would benefit students, both academically and morally. I was torn between expanding students educational experiences connected to a religious text and the fear of reprisal from administrators who were not very knowledgeable of “separation of church and state” laws. One of their greatest fears was a possible lawsuit by “watchdog” groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Ironically, administrators who are sincerely interested in learning and adhering to the legal requirements surrounding “separation of church and state” laws can find information on ACLU’s website: https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/religion-and-public-schools
ACLU guarantees that they will defend 1st Amendment rights of both students and teachers on public school campuses. Read the following excerpt from their web page:Dating back to the Bible Riots of the mid-1800s, the role of religion in public schools has been one of the most hotly disputed—and most frequently misunderstood—religious freedom issues in America. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has long made clear that the Constitution prohibits public school-sponsored prayer or religious indoctrination, violations remain rampant in many parts of the country. The ACLU works to protect public school students’ religious freedom by curbing the practice of school-sponsored prayer and proselytizing while simultaneously ensuring that students may freely express and exercise their faith...The right to practice religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Religious liberty requires that the government permit a wide range of religious exercise and expression for people of all faiths, in public and in private. Government officials may not impede such religious exercise unless it would threaten the rights, welfare, and well-being of others or violate the core constitutional ban on governmental promotion of religion…The ACLU vigorously defends the rights of all Americans to practice their faith. We represent both Christians and adherents of minority faiths, who are often disproportionately affected and treated as second-class citizens.