In 1962 the landmark case, Engel v Vitale, ruled that the New York State Board of Regents could not write into education law a directive that all public school children must recite a prayer, which they composed. “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.”
In 1963 public schools could no longer read Bible passages over the intercom. This was accomplished through the interpretation of the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
The September 1985 issue of USA Today has been quoted by many Christian groups as it outlines the decline in moral attitude since the 1963 ruling. While these groups point to the removal of God’s word from the public school setting as the reason for the decline, it was more the change in the moral attitude of society that accounted for the widespread increase in amoral activities.
What does that have to do with education? Among other things, religion taught children to believe in goodness and respect for your fellow man. Public schools supported those teachings through a civics curriculum. You were expected to be kind and caring.
Today, however, many children are not taught to believe in anyting. They are neglected at home and act out at school searching for the attention they desire. School excuses their abhorrent behaviors, places them in Special Education and allows the child’s self-hatred to develop without relevant consequence.
The simple platitudes of life, good morning or afternoon, please and thank you, yes and no, how are you, have a good day, when said to a child with a smile, makes that child feel relevant. Children loved to be acknowledged, they love to know that someone believes in them and believes that they are worth the time it takes to be spoken to or corrected.
When looking for answers to the problems we face in education, let’s begin with the simple things, the things that take little effort and no money. Begin with basic human kindness and respect.
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