From a constitutional standpoint, the most interesting thing was the natural tension which sometimes occurs between free exercise and non-establishment. Socio-emotionally, however, the real hand grenade was the question of individual parental rights (with a side of religious freedom) vs. the presumed long-term good of the child and of society as a whole. Civilization is premised on the idea that we’ll each forego a degree of personal autonomy in order to benefit from participation in society. Schools are a major part of that arrangement.
Blue Cereal's blog
While I’m still skeptical about the degree to which short stories in a middle school primer truly pushed little people into worshipping horse gods, this second list has the significant benefit of not sounding completely insane. Maybe it WAS possible that the touchy-feely, one-gluten-free-world mojo so popular with academic types in the late 1970s had infiltrated the editorial choices of those most in a position to influence tiny brains.
At what point have we raced well past “everyone is different” and ended up lost somewhere between “meat is murder” and “vote Bernie or we all perish”?
Most “wall of separation” cases related to public education involve questions of “establishment.” When Ms. Magdalene puts up Christmas decorations in her classroom, that violates the Establishment Clause. Inviting local clergy to open graduation ceremonies with a brief prayer is a no-no because it’s “establishment.” Requiring equal time for Creationism when it’s time for the chapter on Evolution? You guessed it – that’s “establishment” as well.
From time to time, however, a case will work its way through the system asserting the opposite. In these “free exercise” cases, the claim is that the state – in this case, manifested as the public school system – has hindered personal expressions of religious belief or behavior without sufficient cause. The “sufficient cause” part is important because the state has the right to place some limits on how faith is manifested when there’s a good reason. (Human sacrifice, for example, is a “no-no” even if your gods demand placation.) Government entities must demonstrate that they have a good reason for their restrictions, however. And, if there are less-restrictive ways to accomplish those goals, they have to try those first.
I've written and published a book of important Supreme Court cases. Although I ended up leaving "ancillaries" out of the book, I have questions written over each of the major cases and several graphic organizers which someone other than myself might find useful. So here's the deal - if you buy the book (which, let's face it, you desperately want to do anyway) and want the supplemental materials, I'm posting them here to download and do with as you see fit.
Well, my #11FF, I decided to record a few podcasts for new (or reviving) educators. This seems like a wonderful idea because I lack the proper equipment, there are dozens of excellent education podcasts out there already, I have nothing to sell, and this year is so weird it's hard to know how to prepare for it anyway.
In other words, why not?
In Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Juliet laments that she cannot be with Romeo largely because of their last names. Their families are enemies and neither would ever accept the other into their homes. Standing on her balcony, unaware that he’s listening, she rejects the idea that names could be so important. Why should it matter what you’re called if you’re as awesome as Romeo - at least in Juliet’s eyes?
Don’t get excited – I’m not diving into current events or anything. (I’m far too demure for such things.) In fact, I’m intentionally avoiding the subject at the moment because any effort I make to write rationally about what we’ve become ends up as a spittle-spewing, obscenity-laden rant and, worse, totally off-brand.
The first shots were fired at Lexington, but the first documented occasion on which colonial minutemen were ordered to fire upon British soldiers (and did) was on the North Bridge at Concord. That was what many would point to as the first official act of outright treason committed by the colonists and marked the beginning of open, violent rebellion in Massachusetts.
These are complicated times, and in the interest of serving ALL students (and avoiding as many problems with parents as possible), I’m renewing my commitment to avoid pushing my own personal values and ideology and just sticking to the facts.
Each summer, I solicit suggestions from real live middle school teachers of books to use in social studies classes. I post them on Blue Cereal as a reference for other educators, and over the years it’s become one of the more visited sections of the site. I’m a huge fan of reading across the content areas, although I try not to call it that because it sounds too much like the name of an expensive curriculum being pushed on desperate districts, like “Literacy First!” or “Pre-AP.” I even try to actually read the books before I add them to the list. Given that most of them are written with 12-year olds in mind, you’d think I’d do a better job keeping up.