Blue Cereal's blog

Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet (1994) – Part One

Getting Hasidic With ItThe circumstances of Kiryas Joel were unusual enough that the logistics themselves offer little to guide future students, parents, educators, or administrators. For anyone not living or working in a carefully constructed community of cultural outliers who end up with their own state-financed school district for special needs children, there seems (at first glance) to be little reason to devote more than a few lines to the case and its outcome.

And yet, taken in context, the case offers several points of interest and possible instruction – even for those uncertain what Hasidic Judaism even means

When Jesus Needs A Visitor's Badge: Church-State Issues In Public Education

A “Hall of Separation”

That’s a horrible title and I wish I could stop thinking it’s not.

As you probably know, given that it’s pretty much all I talk about these days, I’ve been researching Supreme Court cases involving issues of church-state separation in relation to public education. My hope is to have something ready before the entire system collapses and any benefit one may derive from it is no longer relevant.

Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools (The Tale of the Troubling Textbook) - Part Four

Stop Judging Me! Oh, Wait...Like many school systems, Hawkins County schools teach “critical reading” as opposed to reading exercises that teach only word and sound recognition. “Critical reading” requires the development of higher order cognitive skills that enable students to evaluate the material they read, to contrast the ideas presented, and to understand complex characters that appear in reading material…

Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools (The Tale of the Troubling Textbook) - Part Three

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. 

Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools (The Tale of the Troubling Textbook) - Part Two

Mozert BoxWhile 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”?

Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools (The Tale of the Troubling Textbook) - Part One

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.

"Have To" History: Landmark Supreme Court Cases (Promo & Supplementals)

H2H CoverI'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.

The Blue Cereal Podcast For New (Or Reviving) Teachers

Recording TechWell, 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?

What's Your Name? (This Year's First 'Virtual' Assignment)

A Rose By Any Other NameIn 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?

Is That A Right?

2020 SucksDon’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.

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