Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Religion in the Public Schools

One of the stipulations in the partial settlement reached between the Dennis family and the Mount Vernon Board of Education was that the school system was to provide training to teachers on state and church issues.

Back in August of 2009, two attorneys—David Millstone and William Steele—gave a presentation to the teachers titled “Religion in the Public Schools.” (At some point there is to be a second presentation on the issue by Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University Divinity School.)

(The presentation given to Mount Vernon City Schools’ teaching staff last year.)

Although the August 2009 presentation was previously reported on by the Mount Vernon News, for those interested in more details about the presentation and the viewpoints of the school district’s attorneys, the following is a copy of the computer slides used for the presentation:

(In response to a request from AccountabilityInTheMedia.com, Millstone provided clarification on a couple points—see copy of email (80.68 KB PDF). )

On the topic of religion in the public schools, a federal judge earlier this year handed down a strongly worded decision:

“Ironically, while teachers in the Poway Unified School District encourage students to celebrate diversity and value thinking for one’s self, Defendants apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God’s place in American history and culture.

“But to assert that because [Bradley] Johnson was a teacher, he had no First Amendment protections in his classroom for his own speech would ignore a half-century of other Supreme Court precedent.”

The decision is worth reading in its entirety:

Bradley Johnson vs. Poway Unified School District, et al. (105.13 KB PDF)

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