Monday, May 01, 2006

Just begging for a court case

Odessa school officials are moving forward with their plans for a Bible class. Now, I've said many times on this blog that I'm all for teaching religion in schools if it's done in an, ahem, fair and balanced kind of a way -- that is, if it is comparative religion, or religion as literature. But if it's going to be done successfully, we need some model classes that are prepared by religion professors at the highest levels, that can bring perspective and evenhandedness to the teaching approach.

So where better to kick things off? Why, Odessa, of course!

ODESSA — Dozens of students have already signed up and district administrators are testing a pilot course as a West Texas school district prepares to offer a high school class on the Bible, officials said.

The Ector County Independent School District approved the elective course in December, despite opposition from critics who condemned the course as Christian proselytizing instead of education.

About 60 students from two high schools have signed up for the course, which will be offered next fall, district spokesman Mike Adkins said. The semester's schedule includes the class for each period of the day, but that could change depending on demand, he said.


Ian Roark, the district's social studies coordinator, is taking the online version of the course to test out the curriculum. He described the course as "non-devotional" with a focus on history and culture related to the Bible.

The district selected a course developed by North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools that uses the King James version of the Bible.

Critics said the selection showed favoritism toward Protestant Christianity.

Roark, who will oversee the implementation of the course, said students can use any version of the Bible they're comfortable with.

"Basically you are free to use whatever version of the Bible you and your family would like for you to use as a student," he said.

I definitely would like to know what this National Council on Bible Curriculum is all about, but the use of the King James version -- even if it is optional -- raises red flags all over the place. When I took religion courses in college, no professor would ever use the King James version, except to point out its flagrant distortions.


Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Religion is one of the most interesting subjects there is, and it's too bad we can't do more with it in our classes. On the one hand I understand the arguments of people who believe we've taken separation of church and state too far in public schools. But on the other hand, there is nothing that makes me angrier than the modern-day Pharisees who homeschool their kids because, they say,"God is no longer allowed in public schools." I have written about this in a book called IN THE TRENCHES: A TEACHER'S DEFENSE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, and it can be found at

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Olivia said...

If this course was REALLY about historical accuracy, then wouldn't they use the Bible of those who FIRST compiled it? That would be the Catholic version. Using a later, "altered" version makes this class specifically about Christianity rather than history.

1:43 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I blogged about this a while back. I studied the Old Testament twice in my high school career. First time-ridiculous propaganda and evangelizing. Second time-- wonderful. The Old Testament as literature.

This can be done VERY badly. It depends upon the curriculum and the teacher.

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4:45 AM  

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