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Religious curricula being used/offered in a public school?


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"Angry mob mentality"???? Seriously??????

 

This is not some backward Third World country where religious fundamentalists will engage in deadly riots over stupid political cartoons.

 

Nobody is going to riot in Colorado because some overly P.C. busybody got her knickers in a twist over a few donated Christian homeschool books and whined about it rather than simply ignoring them.

No, but she and her family could nonetheless face serious consequences.  Her children could lose their friends over it, for example, if the friends' parents decide she is an "overly P.C. busybody with her knickers in a twist".  This can be a big deal in an area where the OP is very much in the minority, belief-wise.  

Many folks on this list have shared experiences like this.  It's ugly, and I would like to believe that most Christians wouldn't behave this way, but unfortunately some do.  

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I'm assuming this is the Options program? I'm somewhat familiar with it because I considered signing DD up when we homeschooled in CO. It's a once-per-week enrichment program, and parents who use it are still considered full-time homeschoolers under state law. It's not a charter school AFAIK. However, the free curriculum that parents can check out for the year is supposed to be non-religious in nature.

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Honestly after reading through most of this thread the words 'mountain' and 'molehill' come to mind. 

 

If the OP doesn't  want to read the books she doesn't have to borrow them, but there may be someone who would really like having this material made available to them. 

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I'm assuming this is the Options program? I'm somewhat familiar with it because I considered signing DD up when we homeschooled in CO. It's a once-per-week enrichment program, and parents who use it are still considered full-time homeschoolers under state law. It's not a charter school AFAIK. However, the free curriculum that parents can check out for the year is supposed to be non-religious in nature.

 

This is just what I was thinking - an options program is not the same thing as a charter school.  If I really wanted to complain, I'd call the homeschool coordinator (or other appropriate person) in the school district office.  I would definitely approach this at the district level - if there is a legal issue, they ought to take care of it; if there isn't a legal issue, then there's really nothing to be done but to get over it.

 

On the one hand, I don't think that the materials should be bought by the district, though I haven't researched where the line is legally.  On the other hand, as a practical matter, it wouldn't bother me at (well, I wouldn't feel offended though I might be annoyed about an improper use of funds from a financial-waste angle).  As for complaining, we participated in an options program but it wasn't as though we were involved socially outside of the options school day, so the idea that social ostracizing could result from complaining seems silly to me - it isn't a club, it's a public school day.

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I think that it's not unusual or inappropriate for religious materials to be found in a public library.  This library sounds like it functions similarly to a public library (except for the membership fee) but it is merely housed in a school.  The only people that can check out these books are adults and because their children are not part of the school (I'm assuming since they are homeschoolers) that further separates it.  I would think that as long as no religion (or lack thereof) is being intentionally excluded then the inclusion of Christian curricula would be kosher (so to speak).

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"Angry mob mentality"???? Seriously??????

 

This is not some backward Third World country where religious fundamentalists will engage in deadly riots over stupid political cartoons.

 

Nobody is going to riot in Colorado because some overly P.C. busybody got her knickers in a twist over a few donated Christian homeschool books and whined about it rather than simply ignoring them.

 

I'm guessing you didn't actually read the OP's follow up post. Either that, or your choosing to ignore it for the sake of arguing and name-calling. Here, let me show you:

 

The problem with this particular situation is the school has stated that these materials are aligned with the school's "core values" and principles.  It has been encouraged that all parents review the list of materials for use in emails, the school newsletters, and on the website.  The religious materials make up about half of the lending library and represent one faction of Christianity.  I am very uncomfortable with any publicly funded school advocating the use of any religious teaching materials and that is what this feels like.

 

 

The potential problem is that the public school is, either intentionally or unintentionally, advocating the use of materials that support one particular brand of Christianity.

 

And I'd like to see what about the above post is "whining" or makes appearances that the OP has her "knickers in a twist."

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As for complaining, we participated in an options program but it wasn't as though we were involved socially outside of the options school day, so the idea that social ostracizing could result from complaining seems silly to me - it isn't a club, it's a public school day.

 

I doubt the OP would be ostracized by an angry mob for questioning the legality of making religious curriculum materials available for checkout. If it is the Options program we're talking about, it sounds like a clear violation. Parents can use whatever curriculum they want to at home, but per their own rules (and the state's?), the material that Options provides to parents is not supposed to be religious in nature:

 

Curriculum is available for annual check out, including teacher editions, at no cost except for consumables. Parents may order cost-effective, reusable curriculum, which is non-religious in nature. Items must be returned at the end of the school year.

 

If this is an informal, unofficial exchange that parents who happen to use Options have organized on their own, that would be a different story.

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I doubt the OP would be ostracized by an angry mob for questioning the legality of making religious curriculum materials available for checkout. If it is the Options program we're talking about, it sounds like a clear violation. Parents can use whatever curriculum they want to at home, but per their own rules (and the state's?), the material that Options provides to parents is not supposed to be religious in nature:

 

Curriculum is available for annual check out, including teacher editions, at no cost except for consumables. Parents may order cost-effective, reusable curriculum, which is non-religious in nature. Items must be returned at the end of the school year.

 

If this is an informal, unofficial exchange that parents who happen to use Options have organized on their own, that would be a different story.

 

There you go, OP - if you are talking about an Options program, Word Nerd has kindly provided the relevant citation for you.  I would contact the district.  If you are really afraid of social repercussions, your local options school "principal" doesn't even have to know that it was you who complained.

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Since this issue is interesting to me, I looked a few of the options programs in the state. Again, different districts so slightly different rules. For some, the rules could be interpreted as if you order a curriculum through their program it must be non-religious in nature, but doesn't say that all of their curriculum in the lending library has to be non-religious in nature (which would be a loophole for donated materials). Another says that all materials are non-religious in nature and vetted to be appropriate for public school classroom use.

 

This is provided as a "service" for their home schooled participants. I don't really like any of it, because it is a public school quietly dictating what is appropriate for home schoolers. Which is none of their business, at least in CO.

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I've heard that over and over again for states that provide funds for homeschoolers. I think it's not just Alaska. I think California is like this, too?

 

California has a number of charter schools that provide funds for homeschooling-related expenses in some form or another, but the state doesn't have a formal program like Alaska does, and not all California charters do this.

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Guest inoubliable

California has a number of charter schools that provide funds for homeschooling-related expenses in some form or another, but the state doesn't have a formal program like Alaska does, and not all California charters do this.

 

Ah, okay. I can't remember where I'd heard it so I wasn't sure how to even look that up and find out. My state doesn't offer any funding for homeschoolers. 

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Many years ago our public parent partnership program had a few religious resources scattered throughout its lending library.  The materials were all donated.  I actually liked being able to review those resources (for example, I was able to see Sonlight this way).  However, several years ago, we did a major clean out of the library, and at that time all of the religious resources were removed.

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Well. In truth, some people are going to be angry if they know it's her. Whether she is in the right or not is irrelevant to that fact. This is free curriculum & that option being removed from some families will tick them off. So it definitely is a real concern she will have to weigh when figuring out how to approach this. For some people this won't be about religion but finances.

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Honestly after reading through most of this thread the words 'mountain' and 'molehill' come to mind. 

 

If the OP doesn't  want to read the books she doesn't have to borrow them, but there may be someone who would really like having this material made available to them. 

 

Again, removing the books from the public school's "reviewed and approved" library doesn't mean they have to be unavailable to interested parents.  The interested parents just need to step up and create a privately-run library to lend the books.  It's an important distinction, for both religious and academic reasons.  

 

We should not expect government to supply families with religious educational materials.  And we should be concerned if a public school is providing "reviewed and approved" materials that contradict the state academic standards and/or include material that denigrates racial and/or religious groups, as the OP said that these materials do.

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Well. In truth, some people are going to be angry if they know it's her. Whether she is in the right or not is irrelevant to that fact. This is free curriculum & that option being removed from some families will tick them off. So it definitely is a real concern she will have to weigh when figuring out how to approach this. For some people this won't be about religion but finances.

Yeah, it's easy to say what we think she should do, and to say that she needs to stand up for her beliefs, but in reality, unfortunately the decision isn't always that cut-and-dried. And just because she's concerned about the issue doesn't necessarily mean that she is so upset about it that she's willing to make it a hill to die on. None of us knows how strongly she feels about all of this.

 

KK -- has she made any decisions about whether or not she's going to pursue this?

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It seems that the OP had two concerns. One was that her options program had religious materials in the lending library which may or may not be against the rules of the program, she needs to check. If it is against the rules, then it is against the rules. If they are there due to a loophole, then she can work to close the loophole. But again, the school shouldn't be making any recommendations or approval of any curricula (religious or not) because they have no say in what homeschoolers choose to use in this state. We do not have submit any lists of curriculum for approval to anyone.

 

But the larger complaint seemed to be that the charter school that this options program is housed in has "core values" that seem to be religious in nature and support the curricula being stored. That is the major problem. However, her child is not a student at this charter and she should go in carefully regarding that.

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Well. In truth, some people are going to be angry if they know it's her. Whether she is in the right or not is irrelevant to that fact. This is free curriculum & that option being removed from some families will tick them off. So it definitely is a real concern she will have to weigh when figuring out how to approach this. For some people this won't be about religion but finances.

 

I agree. Speaking up for what you think is right will make someone angry (regardless of the perspective represented).  How others react is out of her control and, unfortunately, that is the risk that comes with speaking up. They also have the right not to like what she is doing. So you can't have it both ways. Speak up and risk the reaction of others or not speak up and live with something that COULD be illegal. Again, no one has established illegality of the curriculum because it's in a library not the classroom. That is something that courts decide. The OP can consult a lawyer or the ACLU on how to proceed.

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It seems clear to me that a public school lending religious materials for parents to use as a part of a student's curriculum would be unconstitutional.  

On the other hand, it would be perfectly fine for *parents* to create a *private* lending library for use by the school's parents.

 

 

I honestly don't understand what the problem is in having religious as well as non-religious materials available in a lending library. You said these were donated materials, yes? Seems like a solid answer would be to donate more secular materials and/or take up a collection to purchase more secular materials. I don't really approve of attempting to restrict other people's access to materials they want. Nobody is being required to use any of these materials. Therefore, I don't see it as illegal or unconstitutional in the LEAST.

 

As far as the newsletter and such go-there are lots of ways of neutrally complaining about pushing religion (or politics or anything else) in an arena where it shouldn't be. Looking up the non-profit status (or public charter) of the school would be the first thing to do. Then, you email with a question like, "have you had complaints about these comments in the newsletter? It's not allowed under our status. I'm worried about these types of comments endangering our non-profit/public charter/whatever status. It just takes one mad parent to really mess things up."

 

Have I seen both religious and secular people receive some amount of vitriol when they express their opinion to certain groups? Absolutely. But, it isn't the norm in my experience. Most thinking people are tolerant of opinions other than their own.

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NO it's called PC gone mad. Enough already!

 

If the charter school is acting in violation of federal law, it has nothing to do with being "PC," and only reflects the law. If the charter school is not acting in violation of the law, no one is suggesting the OP do anything to stop them or change their policy. Suggestions have been made to contribute non faith-based books, talk to the principal, or leave it alone. To the best of my recollection anyway, no one on this thread has suggested the OP do anything about the books in the library if the charter school is acting within the confines of the law. The "PC" idea is irrelevant to this. 

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If the charter school is acting in violation of federal law, it has nothing to do with being "PC," and only reflects the law. If the charter school is not acting in violation of the law, no one is suggesting the OP do anything to stop them or change their policy. Suggestions have been made to contribute non faith-based books, talk to the principal, or leave it alone. To the best of my recollection anyway, no one on this thread has suggested the OP do anything about the books in the library if the charter school is acting within the confines of the law. The "PC" idea is irrelevant to this. 

 

As a matter of fact PC has everything to do with this. Why do you think these laws come in to being in the first place? It's so nobody gets offended. It started here in Europe and now sadly it has reached the rest of the English speaking world. It's really sad what has happened to our cultures IMO.

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As a matter of fact PC has everything to do with this. Why do you think these laws come in to being in the first place? It's so nobody gets offended. It started here in Europe and now sadly it has reached the rest of the English speaking world. It's really sad what has happened to our cultures IMO.

 

 It "came into being" with the very first amendments to the Constitution was written. So, I guess you could call it "politically correct" in that politically, it is correct to maintain a separation between church and state in the United States of America, but I suspect you mean something different. I don't want to derail the thread, but would be happy to explore this idea in another thread.

 

:)

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 It "came into being" with the very first amendments to the Constitution was written. So, I guess you could call it "politically correct" in that politically, it is correct to maintain a separation between church and state in the United States of America, but I suspect you mean something different. I don't want to derail the thread, but would be happy to explore this idea in another thread.

 

:)

 

You are correct. I mean PC as it is used over here in Europe. 

 

It would make an interesting thread. Some other time perhaps.

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 It "came into being" with the very first amendments to the Constitution was written. So, I guess you could call it "politically correct" in that politically, it is correct to maintain a separation between church and state in the United States of America, but I suspect you mean something different. I don't want to derail the thread, but would be happy to explore this idea in another thread.

 

:)

 

You are correct. I mean PC as it is used over here in Europe. 

 

It would make an interesting thread. Some other time perhaps.

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NO it's called PC gone mad. Enough already!

I see this the same way that I see terms like "reverse discrimination." There is only discrimination. This appears to be an attempt at silencing a POV that a person doesn't approve of, which is what I would describe as "censorship," whether the books are Harry Potter or The Bible, it carries the same label.

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I see this the same way that I see terms like "reverse discrimination." There is only discrimination. This appears to be an attempt at silencing a POV that a person doesn't approve of, which is what I would describe as "censorship," whether the books are Harry Potter or The Bible, it carries the same label.

The question is, is it legal?

 

If it isn't, it's not because the law likes censorship, it's because the law reflects important principles and values around separation of church and state.

 

The person in the original post and her motivation is really beside the point and, right now, a distraction. If it's illegal, the library needs to stop because it's violating principles I assume Americans hold so dear that they enshrined them the law. If it's legal, her concern amounts to nothing and there's no "censorship".

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The question is, is it legal?

 

If it isn't, it's not because the law likes censorship, it's because the law reflects important principles and values around separation of church and state.

 

The person in the original post and her motivation is really beside the point and, right now, a distraction. If it's illegal, the library needs to stop because it's violating principles I assume Americans hold so dear that they enshrined them the law. If it's legal, her concern amounts to nothing and there's no "censorship".

Are libraries allowed to have religious materials? Yes, they are. So, no, it's not illegal. Does it matter that it's a lending library for parents versus one in the school? I don't think it makes a difference from a legal perspective.

 

I stated in another post that pushing a specific legal or political view in the newsletter and stuff like that, those things could be illegal. But, we would need to know more about the school's charter and non-profit status than has been shared here. I would (and have) written many a concerned email about such activities being connected with non-profits. It's usually easy to stop without throwing a hissy fit that results in a ton of backlash.

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One more thought about silencing POVs. Intentionally choosing to carry some resources, like Christian curriculum, while neglecting to carry others that reflects other viewpoints is also a means silencing a POV.

 

Again, I'd probably volunteer to be helpful in finding secular materials to add to the library to test them but darned if I wouldn't also be investigating the legality of the situation as well.

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Are libraries allowed to have religious materials? Yes, they are. So, no, it's not illegal. Does it matter that it's a lending library for parents versus one in the school? I don't think it makes a difference from a legal perspective.

That's what the discussion is trying to sort out, isn't it?

 

ETA: I'm not sure where the hissy fit comes into this. I haven't seen that mentioned in regards to the person in the OP?

 

I'm tired and nursing a toddler so it would be no surprise if I missed it.:)

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I have no idea if it's legal or not but I hate this kind of stuff. Inappropriate.

 

Your friend could do what I did with the religious material at my daughter's (public, secular) school - take it home and bin it.

 

In the case of library materials, borrow it and lose it. Yeah, that's how strongly I feel about the insidious normalising of Christianity in secular spaces.

 

And no, I don't hate Jesus :(

If the charter school is acting in violation of federal law, it has nothing to do with being "PC," and only reflects the law. If the charter school is not acting in violation of the law, no one is suggesting the OP do anything to stop them or change their policy. Suggestions have been made to contribute non faith-based books, talk to the principal, or leave it alone. To the best of my recollection anyway, no one on this thread has suggested the OP do anything about the books in the library if the charter school is acting within the confines of the law. The "PC" idea is irrelevant to this.

Perhaps you missed the suggestion to "bin" the books or "borrow it and lose it."

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One more thought about silencing POVs. Intentionally choosing to carry some resources, like Christian curriculum, while neglecting to carry others that reflects other viewpoints is also a means silencing a POV.

From the original poster:

"The religious materials make up about half of the lending library"

 

Therefore, one can assume that the other half of the lending library is made up of secular materials? That's not silencing a POV.

 

Again, I'd probably volunteer to be helpful in finding secular materials to add to the library to test them but darned if I wouldn't also be investigating the legality of the situation as well.

 

 

That's what the discussion is trying to sort out, isn't it?

There are tons of legal cases regarding religious materials in lending libraries from prison libraries to public schools and the courts have held that it's allowed. They are even allowed to use public funds to purchase them, as long as there isn't exclusion of other views. I don't see this as a debatable point because it seems like the sort of thing that's already been declared allowed in court.

 

ETA: I'm not sure where the hissy fit comes into this. I haven't seen that mentioned in regards to the person in the OP?

Some people seemed to indicate a hissy fit and/or dishonest (borrowing and trashing the books) reaction to the situation. I wasn't putting that on the OP.

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From the original poster:

"The religious materials make up about half of the lending library"

 

Therefore, one can assume that the other half of the lending library is made up of secular materials? That's not silencing a POV.

 

 

 

 

There are tons of legal cases regarding religious materials in lending libraries from prison libraries to public schools and the courts have held that it's allowed. They are even allowed to use public funds to purchase them, as long as there isn't exclusion of other views. I don't see this as a debatable point because it seems like the sort of thing that's already been declared allowed in court.

 

 

Some people seemed to indicate a hissy fit and/or dishonest (borrowing and trashing the books) reaction to the situation. I wasn't putting that on the OP.

Thanks for clarifying that and I apologizefor implying that you were. :)

 

I do think there's not enough info regarding the half-secular thing though. The half could be English and math while all the science might be Christian. It would be interesting to know.

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I was the binner :) If you'd read my post you'd have seen that is was a response to an illegal situation complicated by a corrupt deal.

 

It certainly avoided belittling and ostracism by others.

But do carry on :) Y'all are doing a good job of intimidating the OP's friend, which I assume is the intention.

I read this post:

Your friend could do what I did with the religious material at my daughter's (public, secular) school - take it home and bin it.

 

In the case of library materials, borrow it and lose it. Yeah, that's how strongly I feel about the insidious normalising of Christianity in secular spaces.

It's not illegal to have religious materials (Christian or other religions) in public libraries, in prison libraries or in school libraries. The Equal Access Act protects Christian students who want a Bible club *as well as* students who want to form a GLB club. The Stone versus Graham court case found that the constitution *guarantees* free practice as religion as much as it prohibits the establishment of a state religion. That's why it's allowed. This sort of case *has already been through* the courts. It's not really a debatable point in my mind.

 

I *did* offer a suggestion on how I would handle the other piece of it that involved the pushing certain curricula in the newsletter, etc. But, just holding materials to lend upon request? That's totally legal.

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Illegal here and inappropriate and debate about the legality there.

 

Given the attitudes of some towards the OP's friend, I'd think peaceful protest is looking like a better and better option.

 

Religious curricula belongs in homes, places of worship and religious schools.

Religious curricula should not be taught in public schools, but that doesn't mean that religion should forced out of the public sphere completely. In the US (which is where the OP is located), it is legal for libraries of all sorts to offer religious texts, books, curricula, etc. These are donated materials. Only some of the materials are religious based. One way to solve the problem would be to donate or take up a collection to donate more secular materials. If *I* were to donate used materials, they would by and large be secular (our Latin is from a religious company, but doesn't really contain any religious teachings). I would give the same information to a Christian who was upset that there were Jewish or Muslim based texts in the lending library.

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From the original poster:

"The religious materials make up about half of the lending library"

 

Therefore, one can assume that the other half of the lending library is made up of secular materials? That's not silencing a POV.

 

 

 

 

There are tons of legal cases regarding religious materials in lending libraries from prison libraries to public schools and the courts have held that it's allowed. They are even allowed to use public funds to purchase them, as long as there isn't exclusion of other views. I don't see this as a debatable point because it seems like the sort of thing that's already been declared allowed in court.

 

 

Some people seemed to indicate a hissy fit and/or dishonest (borrowing and trashing the books) reaction to the situation. I wasn't putting that on the OP.

If the other half of the materials is secular, then the only religion represented in this quasi-library is Christianity. That is impermissible under the law. The two options endorsed by the school for homeschool curricula are secular or Christian; therefore, the school endorses Christianity.

 

The Supreme Court laid out the three-pronged "Lemon Test":

1) Does the government action serve a secular or religious purpose?

2) Whether the primary effect is to advance or endorse religion?

3) Whether the practice fosters excessive entanglement with religion?

 

Additionally, schools are permitted to have "significant religious literature" in their libraries, including the Bible, so long as no one sect dominates the collection AND the library as a whole does not indicate a preference for religious works. Schools (and therefore libraries) are not permitted to teach or promote religious doctrine, including creationism, intelligent design, etc.

 

The school controls the lending library; therefore, it is a school library. Whether they spent money on the curricula is irrelevant. Religion in schools is taught in administrative education courses. Librarians know the standards. This lending library, as described, violates the Establishment Clause. If a Jewish or Muslim or Hindu parent walked into the library and looked around, he would feel that his family is not a favored member of the school but the Christian families are. Also, by reviewing and selecting which religious curricula may be in the school library, the government administrator is putting himself in the impermissible place of determining which religious doctrines are acceptable for public school students and which are not. Same reasoning that disallows school sponsored/approved prayers, even if led by students.

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If the other half of the materials is secular, then the only religion represented in this quasi-library is Christianity. That is impermissible under the law. The two options endorsed by the school for homeschool curricula are secular or Christian; therefore, the school endorses Christianity.

Again, that was only my presumption. And the school isn't purchasing any of these materials.

 

 

The Supreme Court laid out the three-pronged "Lemon Test":

1) Does the government action serve a secular or religious purpose?

2) Whether the primary effect is to advance or endorse religion?

3) Whether the practice fosters excessive entanglement with religion?

 

Additionally, schools are permitted to have "significant religious literature" in their libraries, including the Bible, so long as no one sect dominates the collection AND the library as a whole does not indicate a preference for religious works. Schools (and therefore libraries) are not permitted to teach or promote religious doctrine, including creationism, intelligent design, etc.

 

The school controls the lending library; therefore, it is a school library. Whether they spent money on the curricula is irrelevant. Religion in schools is taught in administrative education courses. Librarians know the standards. This lending library, as described, violates the Establishment Clause. If a Jewish or Muslim or Hindu parent walked into the library and looked around, he would feel that his family is not a favored member of the school but the Christian families are. Also, by reviewing and selecting which religious curricula may be in the school library, the government administrator is putting himself in the impermissible place of determining which religious doctrines are acceptable for public school students and which are not. Same reasoning that disallows school sponsored/approved prayers, even if led by students.

This is a charter school, yes? There is no "government administrator." My understanding was not that the library is a library in the traditional sense that one walks into. Charter schools do not receive all of the same taxes that traditional schools receive. And what is allowed varies widely depending upon the state. I don't disagree that reviewing the materials puts the school at risk, but that information didn't come from the top administrators at the school. The OP really has little information about that process.

 

The other problem is that I'm not really sure what this type of school IS.

 

My friends in WA state, CO and elsewhere have very different arrangements with home schooled students attended private or charter schools than we have here in my current state. It's hard to work out what it might mean. A school with a publicly funded building would be different than a school with a privately funded building that is accommodating public charter school and/or home schooled students in some way. I've seen this done a lot of ways.

 

Do we currently know what would happen if the school was presented with materials from a different view point? What if someone donated Catholic or Jewish materials?

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Again, that was only my presumption. And the school isn't purchasing any of these materials.

 

 

This is a charter school, yes? There is no "government administrator." My understanding was not that the library is a library in the traditional sense that one walks into. Charter schools do not receive all of the same taxes that traditional schools receive. And what is allowed varies widely depending upon the state. I don't disagree that reviewing the materials puts the school at risk, but that information didn't come from the top administrators at the school. The OP really has little information about that process.

 

The other problem is that I'm not really sure what this type of school IS.

 

My friends in WA state, CO and elsewhere have very different arrangements with home schooled students attended private or charter schools than we have here in my current state. It's hard to work out what it might mean. A school with a publicly funded building would be different than a school with a privately funded building that is accommodating public charter school and/or home schooled students in some way. I've seen this done a lot of ways.

 

Do we currently know what would happen if the school was presented with materials from a different view point? What if someone donated Catholic or Jewish materials?

I'm on my phone, so it's hard to get the right quotes in here...

 

From the OP (via proxy):

"This program is run by a large public charter school. The homeschooling program is housed in the same building as the full time elementary school. The charter school receives state funding for each child in the homeschooling enrichment program."

 

"She asked the teacher if the books were bought with public funds or donated and the teacher responded that the materials were mostly donated and that they go through a rigorous review to make sure that all materials align with their core values and principals."

 

"[T]he school has stated that these materials are aligned with the school's "core values" and principles. It has been encouraged that all parents review the list of materials for use in emails, the school newsletters, and on the website. The religious materials make up about half of the lending library and represent one faction of Christianity."

 

Any employee at a public school is essentially a government agent. Teachers can't proselytize, nor can librarians or administrators or coaches. They also aren't supposed to judge which religion or expression of religion is acceptable.

 

That the materials were donated is irrelevant. Billy Graham could donate his time, but that wouldn't make it ok for a school to invite him to speak to the students. (Or that dude Lookadoo from the other thread ;) ) Neither does it matter whether other religions' curricula has been donated and perhaps discarded. As it stands, the public school controlled library consists of 50% evangelical Christian curricula. I don't think it would be acceptable if there were other religions represented because I think the curricula is impermissible religious doctrine, no matter what underlying sect publishes it. However, if they're going to argue that it's "literature," then there needs to be an equivalent amount of other religious sects' materials AND the total amount of religious stuff shouldn't be a majority of the collection.

 

Making this a fee-based "lending library" does not exempt it from law. The fee places it even more obviously under the control of the school.

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This library (the one with religious homeschooling materials) is not the school's library, it is a separately housed collection that would be governed under whatever rules the option program has. The OP needs to find out what the rules are and if the program is following them.

 

Again, the students in this program are home schooled students, under the legal definition here in CO. They are not public school students, so I don't believe that the Lemon test would apply. In CO, all of the districts have different rules. So you really do have to know, not just the state policy, but the actual law governing the school or program.

 

Home schooled students here can use any curriculum they want. Or none at all. The state has no say in the matter. So there would be no coercion argument for or against the use of religious materials.

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I wasn't applying the Lemon Test to the students. I'm applying it to the lending library, which is housed in a public school; controlled/supervised/stocked by public school employees using state funds; and the materials are advertised by the public school as "aligned with the school's 'core values' and principles." While the students are on public school property and enrolled in a program funded by state money, the public school is responsible for the material to which they are exposed. Whether it's an art class or sport, the public school is responsible for the students enrolled in the state-funded activity. If a football coach attempted to convert his students to Islam/Judaism/Whateverism, would it matter one iota whether some of the athletes were technically homeschooled? No. It would be an impermissible endorsement of religion made by a public school.

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I wasn't applying the Lemon Test to the students. I'm applying it to the lending library, which is housed in a public school; controlled/supervised/stocked by public school employees using state funds;

I don't think we know if this is true. It may co-exist with the school, but some charter schools exist on actual church grounds and have not been found in violation for that reason. I have a friend in another state whose children attend a homeschool enrichment program. It takes place in a school, but their teachers are NOT employees of the school. I don't know how this program is set up.

 

and the materials are advertised by the public school as "aligned with the school's 'core values' and principles."

I agreed this was problematic. I said what I would do about it.

 

While the students are on public school property and enrolled in a program funded by state money,

Which program? The homeschool program? Is it funded with state money?

 

the public school is responsible for the material to which they are exposed. Whether it's an art class or sport, the public school is responsible for the students enrolled in the state-funded activity.

How are the students being exposed to a lending library for parents? It is for the parents. The school is not using the materials.

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The library is not for the students, nor is the program teaching out of it. It is for the parents, who are the legal educators of the children.

 

No children in the options program are exposed to the donated, not purchased, materials by the teachers of the program. These materials are not used by the program.

 

I don't know if the options program is following its own rules, but it is a different situation than a normal public charter school. The OP has not clarified if the newsletter/email is for the options program or the charter.

 

 

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Calling valid concerns 'PC' is just a way some groups of people choose to demean others. Usually others unlike themselves. Europe, US, Australia - it's used as a pejorative only.

 

That's just not true. What you are basically saying is that I shouldn't have an opinion that this is PC gone over the top because that opinion is demeaning to others.  Kind of proving my point.

 

You don't agree with me so let's just agree to disagree. 

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One, I don't see what the problem would be even if it was a public school using public money to buy, as part of a much larger collection, books with religious material in them.  Part of being an educated American is knowing about our culture, and religion and especially Christianity happen to be integral to our culture, like it or not.  I understand that the public schools cannot instruct students to favor one religion over another, but having the books available for borrowing is far from that.

 

Two, my kids went to KG at a charter school that was part of a daycare.  The daycare's owner was open about the fact that it was a Christian business, and while they didn't teach religion like a parochial school would, they had prayers before meals and put on a Christmas pageant including the Nativity scene.  The school received public funds to run its KG program, i.e., buy the books and pay the teacher's salary.  I think that as long as parents are informed that their kids will be exposed to religion at a charter school, that should be OK because the parents always have another non-religious option.

 

Three, my kids currently attend a Christian school - one on church grounds, which most definitely teachers religion overtly.  This school receives public money and other support.  For example, the public schools lend non-religious books to my kids' school library, and they are stamped with the words "not for use in religious education" or some such.  The school has Title I tutors from the public schools, and probably some other things.  After all, we parochial school parents pay taxes too.

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If public funds are allowed to be used for only homeschool resources that exclude religion, then that effectively means that those who want to use religion-based curricula are experiencing discrimination IMO.

 

Besides, the materials were donated.  Direct public money isn't even involved.

 

I fail to see the harm here.  Sounds to me like someone just wants to stir up a stink for no good reason.

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This library (the one with religious homeschooling materials) is not the school's library, it is a separately housed collection that would be governed under whatever rules the option program has. The OP needs to find out what the rules are and if the program is following them.

 

Again, the students in this program are home schooled students, under the legal definition here in CO. They are not public school students, so I don't believe that the Lemon test would apply. In CO, all of the districts have different rules. So you really do have to know, not just the state policy, but the actual law governing the school or program.

 

Home schooled students here can use any curriculum they want. Or none at all. The state has no say in the matter. So there would be no coercion argument for or against the use of religious materials.

 

Its been years, but about 12-13 years ago, but we lived in CO and participated in one of the first (if not the first) homeschool options program in the state (with my now adult daughter, not mentioned in my sig - I should fix that) - I don't know what has changed since then, if anything. I do know that there are lots more option programs available now - wow!  We moved away from CO about 8 years ago, but back then, for each homeschool child enrolled, the option program received funding from the state - equivalent to 1/2-time student (parttime) - we were told that our students were enrolled in the public school system as parttime students, and they received funding for our students' enrollment in the program - we were required to have so many teacher contact hours, whether that be through the classes they offered, or through individual consultations. In return, we had access to the classes, and to curriculum, which was paid for out of this program - ie publicly funded. When we attended, there was a lending library, but it wasn't housed on location - it was set up during specific periods, and then boxed back up :-) - it contained curriculum that previous students had used, that was provided by the program, and returned when finished. It also contained donated items, but only secular donated items. We were not required to use secular materials though - we could use whatever we wanted, but if we wanted materials provided to us by the Options program (run through the public school district), it had to be secular. Didn't matter if it was provided to us via the lending library or purchased for us to use as our curriculum. It had to be secular if it came from them. In fact, a lot of what we were offered to use was provided through the lending library - it saved them money not to have to buy every family new curriculum each year, if they had nonconsumables available to borrow via the lending library. We actually only ordered materials through them if it wasn't available in the lending library.

 

And I see a difference between religious curriculum being available for use and religious materials - ie reference books, etc., in the library. If its balanced, religious materials would be fine in my view. Lets have books comparing religions, discussing the history of religions, the various belief systems out there, and lets bring in some atheist material too! But religious curriculum that families can check out and use for the entire year - use to teach their children? Provided by a public school, a program funded with public school money? Not ok. Being told that the library only accepts material after its been reviewed and approved as being congruent with the program's beliefs and values? Yeah, also not ok. Its not a church program, its not a privately run homeschool co-op. Its a program provided for and funded by the public school system.

 

*edited to correct typos and silly mistakes

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Many things have changed with the options programs now. The biggest thing is that there are a lot more programs, with their own individual rules. Another thing that has changed is that the students are no longer classified as part time public school students (except maybe by the school's accountants-parents are subject to the homeschooling law). And by the OP's admission the religious materials are not more than 50% of the library. And use of any of the materials in the library is strictly voluntary for the parents involved.

 

This whole thing would be an interesting legal challenge, if the program is following its own rules. But we don't even know if that is the case. It could be they are in violation of their own rules, in which case all these pages were a bit silly.

 

 

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