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A Look at Public School Education in 2017

With regard to public schools, there was much to be dismayed about in 2017, but much that was positive as well. The positive stuff usually slid under the radar, so let’s take a backward look at 2017 and see what we can feel good about.

Teaching the Bible as History and Literature
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a Bill into law that allows Kentucky public schools to teach courses on the Bible. The law does not force schools to teach the Bible, but rather gives schools the option of providing a Bible literacy elective course for students to voluntarily study. The law permits students to learn the role the Bible played in the history of western culture. As one saying goes, it will be “teaching, not preaching.” Similar legislation has passed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Texas House Bill 1287, if passed, will permit public schools to offer “elective courses on the bible’s Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) and New Testament and their impact on the history and literature of western civilization.”

Other similar bills are waiting action in Missouri, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

Evolution and Climate Change
Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma and South Dakota introduced bills that would protect teachers who “teach the controversy” on global warming and evolution as long as it is not taught from a religious standpoint. (The bills were defeated in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.) Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee have already passed such laws. In mid-November two bills were pre-filed in Florida that would require “controversial theories and concepts” to be taught in a “factual, objective, and balanced manner.” In Texas similar legislation died in committee when a legislative deadline passed without action on the bill.

Betsy DeVos, the new secretary of education under President Trump, was criticized in an early 2017 propublica.org article. It read:

Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s pick as secretary of education, has funded groups that champion “intelligent design,” a sophisticated outgrowth of creationism. Science educators worry that she could use her bully pulpit to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools.

The article mentioned a question posed to DeVos asking if she would promote “junk science.” She responded that she supports allowing “students to exercise critical thinking.”

Improving Textbooks
Florida Citizens Alliance, a group that states it is motivated because: “Our establishment education system is failing America’s students academically, civically and morally. Florida children are being indoctrinated in a public-school system that undermines their individual rights and destroys our founding principles and family values.” Their goal is to improve K-12 education in Florida. Their efforts, along with others, have resulted in many improvements, the latest of which is a new state law that makes it easier for Florida residents to challenge books used in public schools. It could get overhauled next year so those who dislike certain texts could also suggest replacements they find more appropriate. Read more.

Another organization, Truth in Textbooks (TIT), based in Texas, has almost 200 volunteer citizen reviewers of social studies textbooks. It hopes to have 500 in the near future. It will assist twenty-two states with textbook review and selection for grades K-12. In past reviews, TIT has been able to identify a massive number of factual errors, many of which the publishers corrected after being notified of them. One publisher was discarded from the acceptable list when it did not respond to TIT’s requests for changes.

TIT says in its Mission Statement its goal is:

To provide the children of America the most accurate and informative social studies books possible.

To accomplish this mission TNT has set these goals:

  • 100% accuracy in identifying errors and corrections
    Identify misstatements of fact, notable omissions, imbalances  and/or opinions disguised as facts
  • Provide the correct information based upon scholarly, recognizable references and research
  • Provide feedback to public officials and publishers
    Inform the public of our findings
  • Recruit, select, train 300-500 citizen volunteers to be certified social studies textbook reviewers. [Want to be a reviewer?]
  • Provide a website for others to post  reviews of social studies textbooks in order to have a single depository of these reviews

Get Involved
There are a lot more positive educational advances that occurred in 2017 and more still developing, but for now thank God there are people who take the instruction of our kids seriously. If you have the time and inclination, I’m sure your help will be appreciated. If any of you know of other positive happenings in your public school, please let all of us know.

“Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

“Truth for Youth” Week

Get a free copy of the “Truth for Youth” Bible TODAY!

I’m late letting you know about this—sorry—but I just found out myself. The American Family Association and Revival Fires International are hosting/hosted the National “Truth for Youth” week August 7–11. A “Truth for Youth Bible will be given to all teenagers ages 13-18 who commit to give the Bibles to their unsaved friends in school” says the email I received. This Bible is also available in Spanish.

You can also purchase one of these Bibles for $3.00.

Their message goes on to say:

The TFY consists of the New Testament in the God’s Word translation, along with 100 pages of powerful full color comic stories that are packed with “absolute truth” regarding issues young people are faced with, such as: Sexual Purity, Homosexuality, Abortion, Pornography, Evolution, Drugs, Drunkenness, Peer Pressure, School Violence and Secular Rock Music. We have also included BRAND NEW comic stories dealing with Honor, Suicide, Bullying, Sexting, Cutting, the Supernatural and Pluralism. God’s wonderful plan of salvation is incorporated into each of the stories.

If you are worried about it being legal to give a Bible away at school, the Student’s Legal Rights on Public School Campuses are printed on the back cover of the Bibles. It says you have the right to give Bibles away on campus during non-instructional time.

To get your free Bible you’ll have to hurry as this is the last day. The only suggestion I would have is to not worry whether or not your friend believes in Jesus as Savior; ask if he or she has a Bible. If not, give one and encourage your friend to read and discuss it with you.

I’d like to hear from any of you who have given a Bible to a friend, and what the reaction was.

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

I just read about another high school student who was refused permission to include thanks to

Do Not Say “In the Name of Jesus”

God for His many blessings in her graduation speech.

Moriah Bridges’ Beaver Area School District principal Steven Wellendorf said, “The selected

students may still address their class and indicate the things that they wish/hope for their class, but they may not do it in the style of a prayer and most certainly may not recite a prayer that excludes other religions (by ending ‘in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” or “in the matchless name of Jesus.’” [sic]

I couldn’t help but think of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter novels. Nearly every witch or wizard dared not utter his unmentionable name, and referred to him instead as “You-Know-Who”, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” or “the Dark Lord”.

Wordless symbol – Ichthus

Of course, in those novels He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is a villain, which is the antithesis of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but it seems that some are trying to convey the idea that terrible things will happen if the name of Jesus is mentioned.

Continuing with the Harry Potter analogy, the Unspeakables were not permitted to talk about their work. They were also unable to remove prophecies from the Hall of Prophecy or even take them off their shelves. Sounds like what some are trying to do with our Bible.

Perhaps this is making too light of what is becoming an issue that Christians need to confront directly whenever it occurs, as Moriah is doing. She did leave the prayer out of her remarks, but she subsequently contacted First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s top religious liberty law firms.

“The last lesson this school district taught its students is that they should hide their religious beliefs from public view,” said First Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys. “That fails the test of the First Amendment. It wasn’t Moriah who broke the law, it was the school district.”

You can read Todd Barnes entire article “School: You may not recite prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,”  but I’d like to finish with some of the words Moriah Bridges didn’t get to speak aloud at her graduation ceremony.

Lord, surround us with grace and favor everywhere we go. Soften our hearts to teach us love and compassion, to show mercy and grace to others the way that you showed mercy and grace to us, even to the ultimate sacrifice. Help us love our brothers and our sisters deeply. Lead us to bless them. Make us selfless. Make us just. Make us successful people, but more than that, make us good people.

In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Watch Moriah Bridges revised speech.

 

The Remnants

Walk in a fabric store. You’ll find bolt after bolt of cloth—an amazing array of fabrics and colors. But as you wander through the aisles, one sign draws you to it. It is irresistible. REMNANTS. There you will find great bargains because there is only a small bit of fabric left. Some call them “leftovers” but that diminishes their importance. There’s not enough usually for a dress or a skirt; maybe not even enough for a blouse. Not even what you went into the store for. Nevertheless, soon you will be making your way to the cutting table with an armload to get it all priced for checkout.

Once you get your remnants home, what are you going to do with them? The thought that comes immediately to mind is a quilt. You can cut squares from all the different patterns and scatter them about.

Or you could cut flowers, leaves, words, and applique them on a backing.

I’ve seen an absolutely delightful jacket made of a variety of fabrics: a denim here, a flower pattern there, a scrap of faux fur as a divider. Pieces you would never think of buying from a whole bolt of cloth when you walked in the store, but your remnants all work together to make something beautiful.

Did you know God calls his faithful believers “remnants?” In Isaiah 10:21 we read: “A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.” And in Isaiah 28:5, “In that day the LORD Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people.”

I often write of the Pied Pipers who are leading our kids on paths away from God, and encouraging you to warn them in advance of what they will face. God knows it will not be easy; not for you, and not for your kids. Teach them that the jeers and rejection they will face will all be worthwhile as they stand before God a part of the REMNANT—those believers who made it through all the trials and stood firm in their faith. Not leftovers, but wearing a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath of the LORD Almighty.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:1-2).