S T U D E N T S  R I G H T S 2
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S T U D E N T S R I G H T S 2

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William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Educational Law Series - Students Rights

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S T U D E N T S  R I G H T S 2 S T U D E N T S R I G H T S 2 Presentation Transcript

  • Student Religious Expression in Public Schools
    • What’s Permissible & What’s Not
    • William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
  • Student religious expression in public schools
    • Foundation Principles
    • Dissecting Myths
    • Overview of What’s Permissible
    • Overview of What’s Not
        • Untangling “student-initiated”
    • Issues/Topics:
      • Classrooms
      • Student Clubs
      • Release Time
      • Athletic events
      • Assemblies
      • Graduation Ceremonies
      • Distribution of Literature
      • Religious Holidays
      • Student Opt-outs: curriculum, garb, holidays
      • Teachers
  • Key Word: Sponsorship
  • America’s Growing Religious Diversity
    • Protestant, Catholic, Jew
    • 1600 religions & denominations
  • Buddhism
    • 3-4 Million Americans
  • Hinduism
    • 1.5-2 Million Americans
  • Islam
    • 6-8 Million Americans
  • How Religious Diversity Impacts Schools
    • Different traditions & ways to pray
    • Holidays & observances
    • Sensitivity to course content
    • Attire
    • Dietary needs
  • Foundation Principles
    • Not the business of government to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer Americans say.
    • Government power & prestige behind religion places indirect pressure on religious minorities to conform to prevailing expressions.
    • “Government must avoid sending messages to religious minorities that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.”
            • Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
  • Trust Relationship
    • “Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not be used to advance religious views that conflict with the private beliefs of the student or his or her family”
            • Justice William Brennan
    • “The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, but it is not the place of the state to interfere with the role of the church, the family, or the inviolable citadel of the human heart and mind.”
            • Justice Tom Clark
  • Myths
    • Students cannot pray, read Bible
    • Prayer & Bible reading was common prior to Court decisions
    • Bible cannot be studied in school
    • Public schools cannot teach values
    • Teachers cannot discuss religion or acknowledge holidays
    • Lack of religion cause of social ills
  • Myth: Students cannot pray, read the Bible
    • Fact: Court forbade school ORGANIZED or SPONSORED religion
    • Private expression allowed
    • Moments of silence
  • Myth: Prayer & Bible reading was common
    • Fact: Only 1/3 of public schools had organized religious exercises before 1962
  • Myth: Bible cannot be studied in schools
    • Fact: Court forbade only inspirational or devotional study
    • Academic study OK
  • Myth: Public Schools cannot teach values
    • Fact: Teachers can and do teach common values: honesty, respect, trust, civility, responsibility, etc.
  • Myth: Teachers cannot acknowledge religion
    • Fact: Religious topics may be discussed when germane
    • Religious themes part of our history, literature & social relationships
    • However, teachers may not use religious references to proselytize
  • Myth: Social problems due to lack of school prayer
    • Non sequitur
    • Many causes; no simple solutions
  • What’s Permissible
    • Individual & private prayer
    • Moments of silence
    • Student-initiated religious clubs (secondary)
    • Distribution of religious literature
    • Student selected assignments/projects
    • Teach “about” religion
  • What’s Not
    • Rule: School sponsored, directed, controlled or encouraged religious exercises
    • Teacher-led prayer or Bible reading
    • Teacher/administrator participating with students
    • Turning over classrooms to students or outsiders
    • Prayer/Bible reading over public address system
    • Prayer/Bible reading at assemblies, concerts, athletic events, other official activities
    • Presentations or distributions by outsiders
  • Quandary: “Student-Led”
    • Must be truly student-controlled or student autonomy
    • Not “student-led” if part of school sponsored or controlled activity
    • Student votes
  • Classrooms
    • Assignments
        • Art - work , projects
    • Student presentations
    • Teacher discussions
    • Teach “about” religions
    • Moments of silence
  • Student Clubs
    • Equal Access Act (1984) (secondary)
    • Student-initiated & led
    • Before or after classes
    • Non-curriculum related
    • Similar access to facilities, recognition
    • Teachers monitor, not participate
    • Good News Club
  • Release Time
    • School-day religious instruction
    • Off-campus
    • Meaningful alternatives
    • Good News Club complication
  • Athletic Events
    • School controlled and directed activities
    • Student-led prayer
    • not permitted
    • Coach-led prayer
    • not permitted
        • Team prayers ?
  • Assemblies
    • School organized, controlled events
    • Outsider access prohibited
    • Student speech
    • Public Forum – “Equal Treatment?”
  • Graduation Prayer
    • Clergy prayer not permitted
    • Student led for prayer not permitted
    • Student votes
        • Deep South exception
    • Baccalaureates
  • Student Distributions
    • Same rules as govern non-religious items
    • Schools may impose reasonable time, place & manner limits
    • Offensive material
  • Religious Holidays
    • Observances – OK
    • Celebrations – NOT OK
    • Teaching opportunities
    • Carols, sacred music
  • Student Opt-Outs
    • Religious holidays & attend services
    • “ Offensive” course material
    • Religious garb
    • Prayer time?
  • Evolution
    • Teaching evolution permissible
    • “ Equal time” for creation science or “intelligent design” not permitted
  • Ten Commandments
    • Posting of Ten Commandments in schools not permitted
    • May be used in academic study
  • Teacher Religious Expression
    • Limited Opportunities (Public Employees)
    • Not use classroom to share faith
    • Not participate in student religious activities
  • Partnerships
    • Church members may volunteer to tutor, mentor in schools
    • Not for proselytizing
  • Contacts
    • American Jewish Congress 212-360-1545
    • Americans United 202-466-3234
    • ADL 212-885-7733
    • Baptist Joint Committee 202-544-4226
    • Christian Legal Society 703-642-1070
    • First Amend. Center 703-284-2859
    • PTA 202-289-6790
  •