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Starting Point                                                 Page 6

 

Religion Revisited  

 

When I think back to my elementary school years at Herman Avenue School in Auburn, N.Y., one of the lingering memories is that of an old-school principal, Miss Donahue, who made sure the dozen or so Jewish kids in her school didn’t feel overlooked at Christmas. She’d personally direct a school assembly each December that would involve all of us, kindergarten through 6th grade, in reading a few lines that explained our year-end holiday of Hanukkah and to sing a few simple songs.

It was a small gesture, but it meant a lot to us. In those days, religious understanding wasn’t quite the demanding legal, political and cultural matter it has become today in public education. For all I know, diversity in Auburn back in the ’60s didn’t extend much at all beyond the Judeo-Christian faiths.

In this month’s pages, we take a wide look at the intersection of religious belief and the public schools. The coverage starts with an excellent piece by David Doty, an attorney-turned-superintendent, on dealing with expressions of faith in schools. It then moves on to preventing the bullying of Muslim students, the development of elective courses on comparative religion and the increase in Bible-based classes in public high schools. The last feature, written by Charles Haynes, examines the handling of conflicts over sexual orientation and religious expression by students.

This fare describes a world that would look mighty peculiar to Miss Donahue, though in some respects her commitment to celebrate the religious diversity in our population represents a redeeming message that’s outlasted her time.
 

Jay P. Goldman, Editor
Voice: 703-875-0745
E-mail: jgoldman@aasa.org

 

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