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It’s scripture in school time again!

PickedANickname 16 November 2011 62

To get it out of the way, I do not support any scripture in schools. I feel that religion is a personal choice and something that is managed by a family, not taught by random strangers at a public school.

I am curious to know how other schools in the ACT run the program.

The one my child attends puts a small notice in the newsletter and then hides an OPT-OUT permission slip in the back.

I don’t feel that I am provided enough information about the program. There are no offers to view the materials that will be used and I see it as quite deceptive to bury the non-consent note deep within a newsletter.

This is from the DET website:

4.3.6 The principal must ensure that the only children who attend the religious education program are those whose parents have consented to their attendance.

I don’t think you can ensure parents have given consent when it is a case of implied consent.  Why are all other permission notes are sent separately with return dates seeking explicit consent, but not scripture lessons.

I have heard the Amaroo has an opt-in program. So I know that there are other ways to handle this issue of consent.

We are seeking a meeting with the principal to discuss this but it would good to know what other schools do or how other parents in the community feel.


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62 Responses to It’s scripture in school time again!
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Jethro 2:47 pm 17 Nov 11

lore said :

Thoroughly Smashed said :

lore said :

I was never told by a teacher […] that being gay was a bad thing.

You can bet your bottom dollar that you would have been if you were gay.

I can’t speak for everyone, but there was quite a few lesbians in my year. Some of my best friends were (openly) gay at school, and nothing was ever said to them by the teachers or any member of staff.

I don’t think it is so much the individual teachers, most of whom are probably working there because it is a job, not because they are particularly religious themselves. It is more the school leadership group (ie. school board and directors, etc).

I know of one Chrisitian school that banned the school’s Amnesty International club after Amnesty came out in support of women’s reproductive rights. The teachers were appalled, but had no choice but to enforce this rule from the top.

Jurls 2:18 pm 17 Nov 11

I told my DH about this and he was most unhappy as he doesn’t believe scripture has a place in public schools. Anyway, I googled and found to my surprise a newsletter belonging to a primary school which mentions scripture with an opt out form hidden at the back, exactly as the OP describes.

I was actually quite surprised about this, as the website of my local primary school states that “Due to Departmental Policy, no ACT schools are able to place newsletters on their websites.” I wonder if it’s the same school and if they just not up on their departmental policies?

PickedANickname 2:18 pm 17 Nov 11

Thanks everyone for the comments and opinions. We have put together our letter and hopefully will be able to work with the school on the issue. Trevar you had some excellent points.

I don’t think as parents we would mind if it was all about religions of the world. I did that type of course in High School and really enjoyed it.

Thoroughly Smashed 2:00 pm 17 Nov 11

lore said :

Thoroughly Smashed said :

lore said :

I was never told by a teacher […] that being gay was a bad thing.

You can bet your bottom dollar that you would have been if you were gay.

I can’t speak for everyone, but there was quite a few lesbians in my year. Some of my best friends were (openly) gay at school, and nothing was ever said to them by the teachers or any member of staff.

Hmm. I guess I’m going to have to find something else to get indignant about for now.

lore 1:49 pm 17 Nov 11

Thoroughly Smashed said :

lore said :

I was never told by a teacher […] that being gay was a bad thing.

You can bet your bottom dollar that you would have been if you were gay.

I can’t speak for everyone, but there was quite a few lesbians in my year. Some of my best friends were (openly) gay at school, and nothing was ever said to them by the teachers or any member of staff.

Thoroughly Smashed 9:47 am 17 Nov 11

lore said :

I was never told by a teacher […] that being gay was a bad thing.

You can bet your bottom dollar that you would have been if you were gay.

trevar 9:34 am 17 Nov 11

Jethro said :

trevar… as has been mentioned earlier, the problem isn’t with education ‘about’ religion, it is education ‘by’ a religion, whereby a proselytiser from a particular religion (usually a sect of Christianity) comes in to a school for an hour a week and lectures children about their (the proselytiser’s) god.

I still don’t see the problem here. So someone tells children about their god in a controlled context. So what? That still sounds better than excluding a particular part of our society and running the risk that they’ll start telling children about their god in an uncontrolled context. And I’m of the opinion that religion is better taught by a religious person. I’d rather have my children taught spelling by a person who thinks orthography spelling is important, and I’d rather have my children taught about Islam by a Muslim than an atheist; the alternative is more worrying. If religion is taught as a curriculum unit, the teacher teaching about Islam could be a Christian, or the teacher teaching about Buddhism could be a Muslim. I’d rather my children be taught about Christianity by Christians, Judaism by Jews, Islam by Muslims, science by scientists, science fiction by geeks, literacy by pedants and so on…

Jethro said :

The hour devoted to religious indoctrination is not allowed to be used for anything else. It’s not like the kids who opt out can get extra instruction in maths or science. Because if that were to happen, the kids being evangelised would be missing out on learning, and that wouldn’t be fair to them.

As a result, the ‘opt out’ kids get to sit there for an hour and wait.

But what you’re saying is also prohibited by the policy. The article before the one quoted in the OP says:
“4.3.5 The principal must ensure that classes from the regular, approved school curriculum are provided for all children not attending the religious education program.”

And remember, the policy doesn’t allow for an opt-out approach. As there is no legal basis for a parent to be compelled to read a school newsletter, there is no implication of consent in a parent’s silence on any issue raised in a school newsletter. You cannot imply consent to something you’re unaware of, and a school cannot make newsletter-reading compulsory. The parents who do not respond have not given consent. It is as simple as that. Any school using an opt-out approach is as much in breach of the policy as any school not providing curriculum content to children of parents who have not opted in.

Deref 8:46 am 17 Nov 11

This is a bloody disgrace. Public schools should not, under any circumstances, permit religious instruction to take place on their premises. Kids should certainly be given comparitive religion/philosophy classes so that they can understand the impact that religion has had on their own and others’ cultures, but “scripture” classes should be out of the question. I’m shocked and dismayed that this could be taking place in Canberra.

My kids have both left school but if this had been happening and I’d been aware of it while they were there, I’d have raised the roof.

Your first stop should be the Principal and, if s/he doesn’t sort it out, the School Board, followed by the Education Department and the Minister.

lore 7:41 am 17 Nov 11

I went to a Catholic primary school and high school, and although I agree with everything you’re saying, I don’t think ‘catholics’ are to blame.

Going to catholic schools only made me hate the religion, and the catholic church. But whilst religion was compulsory since primary school for me, we were never taught directly from the bible, and never taught that you ‘go to hell’ for any reason.

They never went into any of the stuff Exodus said (i.e. tattoos make you a sinner, you cut your hair you go to hell, gay people are bad). The emphasis was on learning church history and the new testament, not ‘rules’. Most Catholic schools don’t teach like that. It’s all outlined by the Catholic Education Office. And whilst sex education was almost non existant, I was never told by a teacher that I was sinner if I did something, or that I could go to hell for any reason, or that being gay was a bad thing.

Watson 7:15 am 17 Nov 11

Mysteryman said :

s-s-a said :

What is your problem? It sounds like a whinge because they didn’t do it the way you’d like it done.

No, they didn’t do it as per the DET Policy. Which specifically dictates an opt-in approach should be used, and that children not attending must receive ordinary curriculum work.

I read the policy and I didn’t see anything that dictates an “opt-in” approach at all. Maybe you could tell us where that us?

From the policy: “4.3.6 The principal must ensure that the only children who attend the religious education program are those whose parents have consented to their attendance.”

Newsletter: “We are having religious education classes commence. If you do not consent, you’ll need to fill out the form”.

Parents who didn’t fill out the form are understood to have consented. Pretty simple, really. So yes, it still sounds like a whinge because it wasn’t done the way the OP wanted it done.

It’s a “newsletter”. Bit like the Chronicle, but much, much smaller. I’d like to know which parent reads the school newsletter back to front every week. And not filling out a consent form hidden at the back of a weekly newsletter does not rate as “giving consent” in my book. And why do they not have an opt-in policy like some other schools? It’s either because they’re lazy or because they have some hidden agenda. I suspect it is the former.

The Traineediplomat 11:28 pm 16 Nov 11

DebnWill said :

I was raised in the Catholic education system, hence my interest in masturbation (I own an adult toy business)!

I’m for religion, as long as the chicks are hot….

TheDancingDjinn 11:13 pm 16 Nov 11

blimkybill said :

Jethro said :

2604 said :

Is there an opt-out form for all the politically-correct horses**t that gets slung in public schools nowadays?
– Acknowledging “the traditional owners of our land” at every opportunity
– Not discussing fathers’ day or mothers’ day because some kids don’t have a mother or a father
– Not discussing the fact that Christmas and Easter are Christian festivals because not everyone is a Christian, but teaching at length about the meaning and history of Ramadan
– Getting five year old kids to call teachers by their first names rather than “Mr” or “Mrs” or “Miss”
– Not punishing kids for anything, ever, because nothing is ever their fault

In case you hadn’t noticed, political correctness is the new religion being taught in public schools. As a value system, it’s no better.

Yeah… apart from the traditional owners being mentioned none of the things you listed actually happen.

+1 Jethro
Mothers day and fathers day still get acknowledged, but these days teachers do make an effort to be somewhat sensitive to those who don’t have one of those. And Christmas and Easter still get celebrated. As far as I know my kids have never been taught about Ramadan – although I wouldn’t mind if they had, they’ve been taught about Easter and christmas every year of their lives. Teachers are not usually called by their first names, and children do receive punishments. Sorry to disillusion you.
But, if you are still not happy, of course there is an opt out – go to a religious school.

I spent the first 4 yrs of my schooling in Sydney at a school named Enfield Public School. We were taught about ramadan – maybe its because we had lots of muslim kids n our school and the teachers thought it best to tech us why the kids were not eating at school like they had before during the year. If you teach your kids religion now they will have the knowlege to laugh at it later. Plus religion was a bludge class – do some colouring in of jesus hugging some sheep and your outta there – i never listened untill it was something interesting.

Mysteryman 11:10 pm 16 Nov 11

s-s-a said :

What is your problem? It sounds like a whinge because they didn’t do it the way you’d like it done.

No, they didn’t do it as per the DET Policy. Which specifically dictates an opt-in approach should be used, and that children not attending must receive ordinary curriculum work.

I read the policy and I didn’t see anything that dictates an “opt-in” approach at all. Maybe you could tell us where that us?

From the policy: “4.3.6 The principal must ensure that the only children who attend the religious education program are those whose parents have consented to their attendance.”

Newsletter: “We are having religious education classes commence. If you do not consent, you’ll need to fill out the form”.

Parents who didn’t fill out the form are understood to have consented. Pretty simple, really. So yes, it still sounds like a whinge because it wasn’t done the way the OP wanted it done.

blimkybill 10:43 pm 16 Nov 11

Jethro said :

2604 said :

Is there an opt-out form for all the politically-correct horses**t that gets slung in public schools nowadays?
– Acknowledging “the traditional owners of our land” at every opportunity
– Not discussing fathers’ day or mothers’ day because some kids don’t have a mother or a father
– Not discussing the fact that Christmas and Easter are Christian festivals because not everyone is a Christian, but teaching at length about the meaning and history of Ramadan
– Getting five year old kids to call teachers by their first names rather than “Mr” or “Mrs” or “Miss”
– Not punishing kids for anything, ever, because nothing is ever their fault

In case you hadn’t noticed, political correctness is the new religion being taught in public schools. As a value system, it’s no better.

Yeah… apart from the traditional owners being mentioned none of the things you listed actually happen.

+1 Jethro
Mothers day and fathers day still get acknowledged, but these days teachers do make an effort to be somewhat sensitive to those who don’t have one of those. And Christmas and Easter still get celebrated. As far as I know my kids have never been taught about Ramadan – although I wouldn’t mind if they had, they’ve been taught about Easter and christmas every year of their lives. Teachers are not usually called by their first names, and children do receive punishments. Sorry to disillusion you.
But, if you are still not happy, of course there is an opt out – go to a religious school.

2604 10:42 pm 16 Nov 11

Jethro said :

Yeah… apart from the traditional owners being mentioned none of the things you listed actually happen.

“Actually”, they do. Inner North primary school whose name starts with “L”.

s-s-a 10:32 pm 16 Nov 11

What is your problem? It sounds like a whinge because they didn’t do it the way you’d like it done.

No, they didn’t do it as per the DET Policy. Which specifically dictates an opt-in approach should be used, and that children not attending must receive ordinary curriculum work.

If you don’t get any luck with the Principal but think you might get some support for your case from other parents, an option would be to approach one of the parent representatives on the School Board and ask for it to be raised there.

Thoroughly Smashed 9:55 pm 16 Nov 11

Mysteryman said :

Watson said :

Yes.

And some atheists are happy to shove their justification for why they think the whole god thing is BS down others’ throats but are outraged if a religious person tries to justify their believes.

Agreed.

I’d love to know where all these evangelical atheistsmouldy strawmen I keep hearing about are hiding while they ram their opinions down peoples’ throats. You obviously aren’t referring to the ones on the WWW because the WWW’s a public forum.

Disinformation 9:52 pm 16 Nov 11

Jethro said :

Watson said :

And some atheists are happy to shove their justification for why they think the whole god thing is BS down others’ throats but are outraged if a religious person tries to justify their believes.

Once they start having atheists coming into religious schools, forcing kids to stop actual classes, and telling them that their parents are lying to them about god, let me know.

I think I’ve just read one of the best smack downs in the history of the Internet.

Jethro 9:45 pm 16 Nov 11

trevar said :

Religion is a personal thing, so if you believe that your children would be best served by avoiding religion, teach that to your children, rather than trying to teach that to your school.

trevar… as has been mentioned earlier, the problem isn’t with education ‘about’ religion, it is education ‘by’ a religion, whereby a proselytiser from a particular religion (usually a sect of Christianity) comes in to a school for an hour a week and lectures children about their (the proselytiser’s) god.

My kids (well the two who are old enough to understand language) are probably more well versed in the teachings of the major religions than most kids of their age from those religions are.

This isn’t an issue of hiding religion from kids, but one of not wanting to bastardise the education system in order to indoctrinate kids towards a particular religious philosophy.

You mentioned you’re a teacher, so you would be aware that kids get, at the very most, 25 hours of education time a week. To have 1 of these hours given to an evangelical Christian in order for them to convert children to their faith is wrong. It is a waste of scant educational time and an inappropriate use of tax dollars.

The hour devoted to religious indoctrination is not allowed to be used for anything else. It’s not like the kids who opt out can get extra instruction in maths or science. Because if that were to happen, the kids being evangelised would be missing out on learning, and that wouldn’t be fair to them.

As a result, the ‘opt out’ kids get to sit there for an hour and wait.

(As an aside I wish Pommy Bastard were still around, because we would have something to agree upon and bond over. He never did like me much.)

DebnWill 9:30 pm 16 Nov 11

I was raised in the Catholic education system, hence my interest in masturbation (I own an adult toy business)! When it came to choosing a school for my son I went for the public system. I haven’t faced the issue of scripture (yet) as he’s only in preschool, but I’ll definitely being opting out unless it’s a comparitive religious class. I like the idea of him learning about different religions and choosing one for himself when he’s older if that’s what he wants to do.

I love the work of David Thorne – check out http://www.27bslash6.com/easter.html for his take on school scripture.

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