Thursday, January 17, 2013

Study On Texas Public School Bible Courses Released

Yesterday the Texas Freedom Network released a study titled Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12. Key findings are:
Many Bible course teachers lack the proper training required by the Legislature. Moreover, curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education are far too broad to help school districts create academically sound and legally appropriate courses. Consequently, many courses are not academically rigorous and include numerous errors, distortions and other problems.
Many Bible courses reflect the religious beliefs of the teachers and sectarian instructional materials they use in their classrooms. In every course in which religious bias is present, instruction reflects a Protestant -- most often a conservative Protestant -- perspective, including a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Many courses teach students to interpret the Bible and even Judaism through a distinctly Christian lens. Anti-Jewish bias -- sometimes intentional but often not -- is not uncommon.
A number of courses and their instructional materials incorporate pseudo-scholarship, including claims that the Bible provides scientific proof of a 6,000-year-old Earth (young Earth creationism) and that the United States was founded as a Christian nation based on biblical Christian principles. At least one district's Bible course includes materials suggesting that the origins of racial diversity among humans today can be traced back to a curse placed on Noah's son in the biblical story of the flood. Such claims have long been a foundational component of some forms of racism.
Despite the state's failure to implement HB 1287 effectively, a number of school districts did succeed in offering Bible courses that largely comply with legal and constitutional requirements, are academically serious and avoid many of the serious problems noted in most other districts. These successful courses can be found in urban, suburban and rural districts.