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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida is not alone in the school prayer debate



Florida lawmakers stirred the pot this year by finally passing a bill allowing school districts to allow students to offer "inspirational messages" at school assemblies and events such as graduation. Even many supporters of religious rights criticized the bill, which Gov. Rick Scott proceeded to sign into law.

But Florida is far from alone in what Freedom Forum scholar Charles Haynes is calling "school wars 4.0."

Oklahoma and Tennessee are pondering prayer bills, for instance, while Arizona is debating a "Bible bill" to encourage schools to teach Bible courses. 

And we can't forget the ongoing battle over whether "alternatives" deserve equal billing with evolution in science classes. Haynes writes in the Washington Post:

"It’s worth recalling that over the past two decades, groups on the left and right managed to reach consensus on a range of religion-in-school issues, from the importance of teaching about religion to the necessity of protecting student religious-liberty rights.

"But now groups on all sides are gearing up for a new round of conflict generated by state legislation that goes beyond the consensus by encouraging prayers at school-sponsored events, promoting problematic Bible courses, and sparking new debates over science education."

We haven't yet heard of many school districts in the Tampa Bay area considering creation of "inspirational messages" policies. The evolution debate seems to have subsided in Florida, at least for now. Any predictions of how this round will play out? 

[Last modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 10:51am]


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