School District Fears Popular
Bible Class Might Offend Funders
High school students in Ohio’s Vinton County will not have access to a widely used Bible History and Literature elective course because district officials fear legal challenges and the potential loss of federal funding.
The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) says its popular Bible curriculum has been used by hundreds of thousands of students in 593 school districts. The curriculum will not be used in Vinton County because, according to school board members, the district is concerned about “time, money, Highly Qualified status of a teacher that would be required, and lack of alignment with what must be taught as mandated in the new standards for Ohio high school students.”
Though school board members are concerned about possible legal risks, NCBCPS says its curriculum has been popular in public schools for over a decade. Vinton County School District officials cited two instances in which court challenges had led districts to remove the curriculum from use, stating, “current court decisions are the law and cannot be ignored without risks of a lawsuit.” They also argued that, since the district is prohibited from using state or federal funding to pay for “religious worship, instruction, or proselytizing,” use of the curriculum could put the district’s receipt of $4.1 million in annual federal funds in jeopardy — despite the fact that only a tiny percentage of school districts already offering the Bible course has encountered problems.
NCBCPS argues that Bible electives ought to be made available to interested high school students simply because Bible knowledge is essential to understanding Western history and literature:
The curriculum for the program shows a concern to convey the content of the Bible as compared to literature and history. The program is concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students. The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education.