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Prayer in Schools

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by NOG (No Other Gods), Aug 24, 2009.

  1. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    No teacher should have a public display of affection in view of students. So, yes, teacher should have more restrictions than students. Students really have no need to know if a teacher is homosexual or heterosexual (and neither do the parents).

    I have had several home schooled students come into labs I've worked in. These kids were very socially inept -- I think the social aspect of school, and learning how to conform to social norms (not necessarily blindly following social norms) is an important aspect of school. I would think any court would side with the parent wanting professionals to teach their children rather than home schooling. There are many aspects of child rearing where consent by both parents is (or should be) required.
     
  2. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    This is a no-brainer. Their PDA should be no more and no less limited than that of any married or dating heterosexual couple teaching at the school. If they are married*, they shouldn't be required to conceal their relationship any more than any other married couple. If they are just dating* they shouldn't be required to conceal their relationship any more than any other heterosexual couple.

    * Schools can have different rules for married couples than they have for dating couples.
     
  3. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    LMAO. You think 'professionals' teach school here in the US? I mean, yeah, a lot of them do make a living off of it, but exactly what kind of training and education do you think they have? I was lucky enough to go to an advanced education school, so all my professors for those classes had college degrees of some kind, many graduate degrees, and one was even a college professor on the topic for many years. My non-magnet (name of the program) teachers, though, were not so well versed, and I don't think any of them had more than a semester of the 'how people learn' kind of classes. Teachers are payed poorly enough that they'll usually grab anyone they can who isn't completely incompetent.

    Ah, but the question isn't how shoud they be treated compared to others teaching at the school, but compared to students? Should teachers' relationships be even more restricted than students' (which are already quite restricted, by the rules at least)? Should teachers who are dating or even married be forbidden from holding hands? Should they be forbidden from casually mentioning their spuse/significant other in relationship terms (i.e. husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.)?
     
  4. Déise

    Déise Both happy and miserable, without the happy part!

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    I'd say the default should be going with what is the default option for the vast majority of kids in a situation like this. If one parent wants to give a child a radically different upbringing from the norm then the onus should be on that parent to show it is for the better. I don't think the parent the child lives with should automatically get to choose. That's incredibly harsh on a parent that wants to take an interest in the child but whose relationship hasn't worked out. If the parent isn't involved with the child of course that's a different matter.

    On the homosexual issue I'd find it incredibly hard to see that being a big deal in practice. I can't say I ever had any of my teachers discussing their love lives with us. We had one teacher who was married to one of the secretaries and they didn't make any public displays of affection either. I don't see it as being appropriate for any kind of couple and I doubt any teachers would want to carry on like that in front of their pupils.
     
  5. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    NOG, the majority of home schooled children are being schooled by a parent who may or may not have even attended college. Most parents home schooling use lesson guide they download from the internet and have no clue about how kids learn or the education process. I have only met a couple of parents who home school their middle and high school aged children who have even the slightest clue about advanced mathematics and science.

    In order to be certified to teach at all teachers must have a college degree. Many have graduate degrees. I hate to break it to you but often the "magnet schools" are populated with the most senior teachers -- i.e., the one who have seniority in the union.
     
  6. LKD Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone


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    Taking this in a slightly different direction but one that causes us no end of headaches here at the adult ESL school where I teach is the issue of Muslim prayers. One of the five pillars of Islam is daily prayer (5 times a day, IIRC) and they make a big effing production number out of it -- lay out the rugs, prayer leader, lots of bowing, etc. Some of them were of the opinion that they could just waltz out of a classroom at any time (during a test, presentation, lecture, whatever) and pray then. Some of the stupider imams would get frustrated because he was realizing that his skill in Koranic lore did not translate into skill with anything else on the planet (and their pathetic little macho egos were being damaged by the fact that women were doing better in the class, and even worse the class was being taught by a woman) so they'd say, pretty much at whim "time to pray" and lead out the Muslim students. It was a pathetic attempt to assert control.

    It was squashed. We made it clear to them that from 1:30 -- 1:45 was the break for ALL students, and that that was the time they had to pray. We even set aside a room for them to do it in private. I told them it was part of the contract of respect we had -- I respected them and showed that respect by goina and opening the classroom door for them to pray, giving up about 2 minutes of my break time. They were expected to show respect for me and the other teachers by being back to class by 1:45.

    It's a hassle sometimes, especially when some of the less educated / more fundamentalist / reactionary people start yapping that the time has shifted and the school needs to shift the break to 1:50 to 2:05 in order to please Allah. We tell them that the times are set, that the school is not a Muslim school and that even though they may be a plurality they are by no means a majority and that we will not inconvenience other students just for their minority views. But overall, we've found a balance.
     
  7. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    Well, the child is at or above grade level in all areas. Honestly, being better than public schooling usually doesn't take much work, especially at the lower levels.

    I had several teachers that made casual comments about their spouses (my husband this, my wife that). I won't say it was commonplace, but it did happen.

    But this isn't the 'average' home schooled child. The courts already know this. In a case like this, statistics of homeschooling are meaningless.

    1.) We don't have dedicated Magnet 'schools', here. It's an integrated program. I attended a regular school that had special 'magnet' classes. On top of that, I have a hard time believing those teachers were 'senior' in the union, since many of them were in their late 20s to early 30s. The one ex-professor was older, and may well have been senior, but he was also immensly qualified.
    2.) I don't know what exactly the requirements to become a teacher are, but they don't seem to have been terribly enforced in my school. Outside of the magnet program classes, a number of the teachers openly admitted to not having a college degree, while others only had 2-year degrees.

    LKD:
    Yeah, I can see how that could be annoying.
     
  8. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    While the requirements are variable for what you need to get a teaching license from one state to the next, if there are lots of teachers in Virginia without at least a bachelor degree then your schools must suck. I'm out of high school for nearly 20 years, but all the teachers in the public schools of Pennsylvania were required to have at least a bachelor's degree in primary or secondary education back then. Many of them had Master's degrees, often times in the subject that they taught.

    I live in Maryland now, and my wife is a teacher. Not only is a college degree in education required, but you must take at least 12 additional college credits (the equivalent of four classes) every 5 years so you stay up on things. This requirement means that most Maryland teachers eventually acheive their Master's degree just to meet the minimum requirements to keep their teaching certification.
     
  9. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    ... Well, yeah, our schools do kinda suck. Plus, that one was especially bad. The Magnet program was located there specifically to keep the school's accreditation. Without us boosting the standardized test scores, the school would have lost it in the first year I was there (the year the program started). That may have had something to do with it.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    Not that you were talking to me, but I do. Having grown up in the Virginia School System (Loudoun County, if your curious), I encountered nothing that would lead me to any conclusion other than that of the vast majority of teachers being professionals in every sense of the word. Now, as an Iowa parent of two school-age children (one of whom has special needs, no less, and has been attending school full-time since he was 3), I have yet to see anything that would contradict that premise either.

    I see nothing wrong with a school applying one standard to the educated professionals teaching there and another for the hormonally challenged students attending, if that's what you're driving at. Teachers should, like any other professional, be expected to keep their affection within the boundaries of good taste. How those standards compare to the standards required of its students is largely irrelevant, because (at the risk of stating the obvious) teachers aren't students.

    Worry not, Aldeth. Every path to licensure in VA still requires a bachelors degree -- and, like most other states, Virginia also has continuing education requirements.

    http://www.doe.virginia.gov/VDOE/newvdoe/licroute.pdf
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2009
  11. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    I don't know, maybe my school was just the pits. I would believe that (and I was so glad to get away from it), but I had taken it as at least relatively representative of the norm.

    Drew, do you believe that teachers should avoid all references to spousal or otherwise romantic relationships, or just that their actual actions should be restricted?
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    I think two separate standards are required, and there should be a different standard for middle and high school than there is for elementary school. Teachers should pretty much never be expected to avoid references to spousal relationships, because such relationships are already the "elephant in the living room". When two teachers with the same last name always arrive at the same time, always eat lunch together, and leave school in the same car, the kids -- even elementary school students -- are going to have no difficulty putting 2 and 2 together. There's no point in hiding such relationships. In elementary school, it won't hurt anything for the kids to know that 2 teachers are dating, but they really don't need to know, either. It would be understandable if a middle or high school wanted to require it's instructors to avoid disclosing a relationship until it becomes serious (ie engagement) because there's no need to feed the rumor mill unnecessarily.
     
  13. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    My point with all this is that many see exposure to homosexuality as similar to how many atheists seem to see exposure to religion. They would object if their child were in a class with an openly homosexual teacher, even if it wasn't made a big show for every student to see. I would say that such parents need to lighten up a little and talk to their children some more, and that, as long as the teacher(s) behaved decently durring school hours (similar standards to students, no kissing and such), there shouldn't be a problem. I treat religion on the same level. I was trying to ascertain whether or not you would put them on the same level and, if so, what restrictions you would put on the homosexual teachers?
     
  14. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    Interesting thought, NOG -- we have standards for teachers but they also have rights -- rights that cannot be infringed upon by any entity, government or not. At the same time the schools and parents also have rights regarding what the children are exposed to and the overall conduct of the people doing the teaching.

    I mentioned my wife and kids frequently when I taught high school. No big deal. I also was not shy about telling them that I was LDS. But I didn't press my beliefs, proselyte, or otherwise behave inappropriatley.
     
  15. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    NOG,
    just to make sure I get you right on this: I understand you right to say that teachers showing their gayness and teachers showing their religiosity are equivalent and that, as apparently the liberals tolerate the former but are intolerant to the latter, unequal treatment exists and that Christians shouldn't be treated any different than gay teachers. Is that right?

    Are you really suggesting that praying in school is the same thing as a teacher showing that he is gay? Is showing to be gay the same as 'spreading the gay lifestyle' - whatever that is or means - just to find a possible equivalent of proselytising? Hardly. It's a canard, formulated to create a vague feeling that ... somehow, religious persons in the US are being treated unfairly when compared to ... 'secular humanist groups' ore some such. That is not so.

    In Lee v. Weisman the Supreme court ruled:
    Read: A teacher, who thinks that 'spreading the word' or 'witnessing to others' are central tenets of his religion still cannot expect the state to give him a forum to do so on the job. He probably also needs bibles for his free exercise of religion and thus needs the state to buy them for him either.

    Why would anyone want the government involved in such a personal, holy matter between parents, children and their faith as prayer? You want your kids to learn to pray? Pray with them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  16. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Sorry for chiming in, Aldeth, but that's substituting a numerical zero for total absence. You could say that a non-smoker smokes two packs less or that a monogamous person has N-1 spouses fewer than a polygamous one does. That's a bit of maths that doesn't fit in with real life. ;)

    As far as the topic goes, well, I haven't read the original article, so I can't really talk much on the two guys this is about, but in my view prayer in schools should always be non-forcible and never in-your-face, with an obvious exception of denominational schools where this is a part of education or denominationally-owned schools where heavy exposure is obvious. I believe some of the more vocal opponents of public prayer are given to hysteria and they could use a more level-headed approach. Obviously, I resent any form of religious coercion and forced practice is of little worth anyway. But stamping prayer out of the public is a different cup of tea and it's an overreaction by people who can't stand the ostensible existence of something they don't agree with. In many cases, it might have to do with an awakening conscience or an awakening internal commotion suggesting that perhaps something is wrong with the self-centred and self-made value system - kind of a defensive reaction.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  17. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    Ragusa, I have to disagree with your descent into extremes. Yes, I would equate praying (not administering a group prayer by force or threat, but just openly praying) about the same to mentioning that you're gay, or talking about a man's boyfriend/husband or a woman's girlfriend/wife. They both amount to exposure to a lifestyle without coersion into it. Now, you have said that a guy praying on a street corner and a teacher praying in a classroom are different things, as the latter has a certain inherrant authority that goes along with everything they do. That is true, but it is equally true for sexuality.

    Now, I'll agree that the teacher shouldn't start preaching a sermon in the middle of class, nor should the school be buying Bibles (unless it's part of some religion and philosophy class, in which case Bibles, Korans, Torahs, etc may be acceptable). They should be able to pray over their meal, even out loud and with another christian, though, whether students are present to watch or not.
     
  18. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    NOG,
    man, you're certainly persistent, after all we aren't belabouring this point, exhaustingly, for the first time, alas ... Your argument is flawed on two levels, first when you say that gay teachers and school praying Christian teachers are not treated equally. Equal treatment arguments require that the two things that are being compared are indeed equivalent - in this case they're not. Second, you don't understand quite frankly what is meant with 'the state not giving a religion a forum'. The separation of church and state means that the state (or school) is not to give a religion a forum (i.e. public platform) or preferential treatment.

    You are aware that the inversion of your argument would mean that, as teachers are not allowed to pray in class, gay teachers are forbidden to say that they are gay, too, because they'd have to bee treated equally. Common sense check: Does that fly in face of gayness not being a crime any more?

    Gay teachers don't open class or meetings or whatever else with a brief speech on their gayness, through which all attendees have then to sit because school discipline requires it. That is what it would mean to give them a forum in school. Being allowed to say that they're gay simply means they need not hide it any more; America has passed that point when homosexuality was decriminalised. In that sense, allowing them to state their orientation simply removes the preferential treatment of heterosexuals, or, the other way around, ends the discrimination of homosexuals.

    Passing by a gay bar on the street exposes you to a gay lifestyle, because you see it. That's a part of life. When you're not blind you see things. When you're not deaf you hear things. When someone states he's gay, the more perceptive among the audience learn that the person in question is gay. When I see you wearing a cross around your neck I see that you're probably a sort of Christian. That is the simple display of something that's not inflammatory or otherwise charged. It is perceived and that's it.

    Of course it is allowed for a pupil or teacher to mutter or speak a private prayer over your meal, quitely. It's a silly canard to claim the opposite. Even when a teacher comes to class crying out loud: 'Hallelujah! I'm so effing glad to be a Christian!' that's certainly weird, but probably ok, because it doesn't involve the state, or a position lent to the individual in question by the state that would suggest it is the state expressing or at the lest embracing the views voiced by an individual in state employ.

    It is something different, when teachers come to the meals in a public school (and non denominational or private school), and use their forum - the position and function they have been given by the state - and open dinner with a prayer. That, and only that, is what school officials have been slapped for, and rightly so.

    Now of course, a resourceful school director barred from opening school dinner with prayer could always resort to tricks, like whispering his private dinner prayer SO LOUD THAT EVERYBODY HEARS THEM ANYWAY! That obvious circumvention would then also qualify him for a thoroughly justified legal kick in the pants.
     
  19. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    That varies from location to location, but I didn't actually say they weren't. Rather, I asked how people would feel if they were.

    In terms of the point of our discussion, the only differences are:
    1.) the Constitution makes no mention of sexuality. Homosexuality is neither banned, nor protected. Religion, on the other hand, is both (in a sense). I think the two positions are similar.
    2.) the entire topic of religion and beliefs has no established laws governing them in schools, while sexuality does. Corrections can be assumed for that.

    Ragusa, here I have to disagree with your use of 'forum'. The State is in no way restricted from giving religion or religious discussion a 'forum', just from establishing, prohibiting, or interfering with 'the free exercise thereof'. There are plenty of instances where the State gives religion a 'forum', such as the FCC granting liscences to religious broadcasting. It is the endorsement or prohibition that is forbidden. The issue here seems to be whether teachers praying in school school should be seen as an endorsement, or forbidding it as a prohibition.

    Yes, and that's exactly the point.

    In this case, actually, it doesn't matter whether we're talking about homosexuals or heterosexuals, though I knew homosexuals would spark more of a debate. I'm assuming you'd object equally to an atheist giving a speech to his class about how religions are all wrong and people who believe them are idiots? You see, it doesn't really matter what side you take, the discussion is about where the line should be drawn.

    Also, your analogy is flawed because I'm not asking for teachers to open every class with a class prayer, just to not be jailed for saying a prayer over their meal before they eat.

    And so is prayer. As you just said, when you're not deaf you hear things. That's what a man praying on the sidewalk is: something you hear as you walk by. The question is, should we restrict lifestyles in school in order to protect our children from them, or should we allow them in order to preserve our own freedoms?

    Look again, Ragusa. The court order forbid 'prayer'. Not 'prostelytizing', not 'forced mass prayer', not 'religious rituals', but 'prayer'. They were forbidden from, among other things, 'participating in' or 'causing' 'prayer'. No mention of volume or number of participants was made.

    And again, you assume that without evidence. In the civil case, a teacher who wasn't administering an event that wasn't an official school function and wasn't attended by students is facing contempt charges. I doubt she could have officiated a mass-prayer over the meal even if she wanted to.
     
  20. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    You are not listening. This is pointless.
     
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