Talk:Public schools in the United States

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Looks like a few people are trying to edit this page at the same time. Between this and my initial screw-up with providing references, I think my edit should be alright. I'll work on some more names later.--Jimmy 14:45, 7 December 2007 (EST)

Oh my bad. I hate it when people edit conflict me so I always try to wait, but I guess I wated too long. I'm not sure why you undid the formatting though. In general we bullet any lists because it's so much easier to read. I'll chalk it up to an edit conflict and undo it. HelpJazz 15:12, 7 December 2007 (EST)

Atheistic Public Schools?

Public schools are not atheistic institutions. Just because they obey the constitution and don't promote prayer, it doesn't make them atheistic. In addition, they don't promote atheism at all, they merely don't promote religion. If no one minds, I'll remove the first section from the article.--Blinkadyblink 19:17, 7 December 2007 (EST)

I agree completely. Saying that because public schools do not preach christianity means that they are "atheistic" is ridiculous. Aren't conservatives the ones who say parents should educate their children about morals, not the government? Schools should teach math, science, history, writing, art, and foreign language and leave the rest for people to decide on their own. That is limited government. --Mars2035 21:21, 18 March 2008 (EDT)


My high school had agnostic students--thought they were atheist--with many Christian/Catholic teachers. +_+ always tired Kektk 14:03, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
Religion is censored from public schools: there is no classroom prayer, no religious symbols, no emphasize on moral right and wrong, etc. Sure, students may be agnostic or religious, but they better not try to say a group prayer during class time or they risk being punished. That's an atheistic culture.--Aschlafly 14:50, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
Mr Schlafly: It is one thing to assert something and another to actually provide a reference. Is there any chance you could provide a valid reference that states American public schools are atheistic? In my daughter's school, students are allowed to pray during class hours, moral values are taught and emphasized during civics and other classes, and she has never seen anyone punished for praying. The atheist tag you are placing on this article wouldn't be constantly challenged if you could provide a solid reference. --Jimmy 16:09, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
There is no classroom prayer in any public school in the United States. Does that really need a reference? No morals are taught either and no religious symbols are displayed. The Ten Commandments cannot be found either. References could be supplied for these obvious facts; indeed, you could add them yourself.--Aschlafly 16:45, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
Mr. Schlafly: Please reference my last comment. There is obviously prayer allowed and morals taught at my daughter's PUBLIC SCHOOL which is in AMERICA so you are wrong about asserting, without evidence, that prayer in public schools is prohibited in America. And yes, your assertion needs a reference because it flies in the face of every statement issued by the Clinton and Bush administrations concerning prayer in public schools. This is even mentioned in the article. I even posted other evidence concerning the opinions of many civil liberties groups and their support of the constitutional right of students to pray in public school but you declared that edit was 'liberal' and deleted it. Now if you want to insist that both Clinton and Bush are completely wrong and the advice they got from their legal advisors is completely without merit, please post a valid reference that disputes the opinions of our country's leaders and legal experts. I don't have the slightest clue where I would find a reference that supports what you are claiming or I would gladly assist. Please provide the reference to your assertion so we can all lay this matter to rest. --Jimmy 17:50, 25 May 2008 (EDT)

This article states that public schools are "atheistic," and atheism is defined by this encyclopedia as the denial of the existence of God. I don't mean to get overly technical here, but it seems illogical that a broadly defined institution such as American public schools could be said to deny the existence of God, unless there has been some statement (or a rash of statements) that I am not aware of (and is not cited) on behalf of public schools specifically denying that God exists. The thrust of this article seems to be not that public schools are atheistic but that they are Godless institutions, lacking in the moral fundamentals of religion and defining themselves as expressly secular. Therefore, I am changing "atheistic" to "Godless" in the header. Kristkrispies 12:43, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

Public schools are not "secular", which means reflective of society as a whole. Rather, they are deliberately exclusive of faith, morality and religion. "Godless" is a pejorative term, and atheistic is better because it encompasses atheistic ideologies like evolution that are taught in schools.--Aschlafly 13:11, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
I suppose you're right, although "secular" is often used to mean "exclusive of religion." Yes, "Godless" is a pejorative, but so is "atheistic," as least as it is defined in this encyclopedia. I also contest that evolution is an (exclusively) atheistic ideology, as many scientists who believe in evolution are theists. Finally, do you have any citations to support the fact that public schools specifically deny the existence of God, or are you using "atheistic" more as a catch-all to describe the godless mindset in general (and, if so, I'd like a better definition of the term). Kristkrispies 13:34, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
There may or may not be theistic evolutionists, but evolution is predominantly an atheistic ideology. Ditto for other things taught in public school, such as materialism. Schools are not merely "godless", as they exclude teaching of "right" and "wrong". The term "secular" is misused to mean "exclusive of religion." That is not its actual meaning.--Aschlafly 13:42, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
Sorry, just one more point here, regarding the definition of "secular:" according to dictionary.com, which may not be the best source, the first 3 definitions specifically mean "non-religious" and there is no definition given for "reflective of a society as a whole." Kristkrispies 14:13, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
I just checked Merriam-Webster and none of the definitions mean "non-religious." [1]--Aschlafly 16:02, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
As usual, I hate to differ with you, but 'I' just checked Merriam-Webster, and the first two definitions say "non-religious." Kristkrispies 20:01, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
My cite doesn't. One of the definitions does say not specifically religious, as in denominational.--Aschlafly 20:23, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
Not to beat a dead horse, BUT the definition I'm seeing on Merriam-Webster.com says this: "1 a: of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns> b: not overtly or specifically religious <secular music> c: not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>" thus clearly defining secular as equivalent to nonreligious or nonspiritual. The next definition gets at more of the nondenominational meaning, but I don't see how you can say that this does not mean nonreligious. Furthermore, a search on Merriam-Webster's Thesaurus defines "secular" to mean "not involving religion or religious matters <that's an issue for the secular authorities, not the church>". On the other hand, I have not seen a single dictionary support your definition of secular as "reflective of society as a whole." Kristkrispies 23:51, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

I think "non-religious" is a better term.JPohl 13:51, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

"Non-religious" does not capture the hostility, such as the affirmative censorship of prayer. A group may be non-religious and still allow, and even welcome, an occasional prayer. But an atheistic culture censors the occasional group prayer, as public schools do.--Aschlafly 13:54, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
I think this is a good point, but what I want to know is why you want to characterize hostility toward religion on the part of public schools (an unsourced pejorative), yet you won't use "godless" on the grounds that it is pejorative. Also, I was hoping for an answer to the other concerns I brought up, and if I may add one more to that: you say that "Schools are not merely godless, as they exclude teaching of right and wrong," but don't you think that being godless inherently suggests the lack of morality, in the same way that atheism does? Again, you need to cite some sources to describe this broader atheistic lifestyle you seem to be describing. Kristkrispies 14:06, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
As I've said before (I think, but I'm too lazy to check), I'd prefer "nontheistic" to "atheistic." Usual disclaimers apply. -CSGuy 22:16, 10 June 2008 (EDT)
Public schools are hostile to more than God, such as right and wrong, and promote (false) ideologies that lead students to atheism.--Aschlafly 00:37, 11 June 2008 (EDT)

There not so much Atheistic as they are anti-Christian. Ultimahero 23:40, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

It is very obvious that you and whoever wrote this article has never set foot in a public school with competent staff. I am a high school senior and we have a moment of silence every day. The majority of my teachers are Christians, and although they do not press their beliefs on anyone, they certainly make it known.
My biology teacher frequently emphasizes the fact that evolution can coexist with the teachings of the three mainstream religions. He presents evolution as a fact (because...I'm sorry, but it is one. We're in the 21st century now, guys) but does not discount panspermia (the belief that life came from another planet) or intelligent design. He is a Christian, but does not bias his information one way or the other.
In my Theory of Knowledge class, the liberals, conservatives, Christians, Hindus, and atheists openly debate the definition and roots of ethics, morality, and religion. Sometimes we reach a conclusion leaning towards atheism, sometimes we reach one leaning towards Christianity. But the point is, we are presented the facts and we debate, discuss, research, and discover the roots, impacts, and issues of many ethical paradoxes and religious issues. The teacher provides input, but only to clarify and guide us in the direction of the class standards. I've learned more about what is right and wrong through arguments in that class than I have in any religious service. I've won debates and been viciously proven wrong, but at the end of the day we're all classmates who joke about it later, because unlike so many people, we have an open enough mind to throw our opinions out there and see if they stand the tests of debate and scrutiny.
Not that anything on this site is remotely correct (I thought this site was a joke when I read the Obama "article"...it still could be for all I know), but public education is something I just gotta take a stand on. No one knows better than someone who's been through 11.5 years of it. And if anyone's wondering, I live in the conservative state of SC, smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. So don't tell me my surroundings influence my opinions, because they don't. I know this comment (or parts of it) will be deleted/altered shortly after it is posted (because I don't agree with you...very fair, I know), but I hope at least one diehard conservative reads this and realizes that not every issue can be defended from his upper-middle class white Christian Hummer-driving viewpoint. If anyone would like to discuss my contribution further on an unbiased, uncensored, free medium, my AIM name is kevh89 and my e-mail address is Nivek_04085@yahoo.com. So much for access to Conservapedia, because like a dissenter in communist Russia, I will probably be exiled from the IP for disagreeing. I'll just have to log in on a friends' computer for my daily laughs. This "encyclopedia" is an insult to education. Frogmaster13 21:58, 15 December 2008 (EST)

Uncited Assertions

I would like to see evidence for the assertion that public schools are atheistic and spoken prayer is forbidden in the classroom. The idea that this should be present without a reference goes against the standards of this encyclopedia.--Jimmy 13:56, 1 January 2008 (EST)

Then go ahead and help find it. If I can find such references within the time it takes you to complain about the lack of them, then you can find them as well and help contribute to the building of this encyclopedia. Karajou 14:06, 1 January 2008 (EST)
It is my understanding that the person making the claim needs to provide the source documentation. For the record, I do not know of any reputable source that claims the American public school system is atheistic. Nor do I know of any law or court decision that prohibits all spoken prayer in the classroom, hence my request for a citation.
Just so you know, I am contributing to the building of this encyclopedia. In the time I have taken to voice my objection to the lack of sources, have you come up with your own references?--Jimmy 15:26, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Yes I have. I've known for years that school prayer was removed from the schools as a result of an atheistic loudmouth named Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who used her son to force her religious beliefs through the Supreme Court in 1962. The account was also written in the book "Let Us Pray", by William Murray, an evangelical pastor who was O'Hair's tool back then.
Whining about lack of references does not build up this encyclopedia; helping out to fill in the missing holes does, and I expect you to do so. You don't know because you never bothered to look; you sat there and expected everyone else to do it for you. Karajou 15:58, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Prayer has not been removed from public schools and anyone that thinks this is the case is seriously misinformed. O'Hair's lawsuit, Murray v. Curlett, (consolidated with Abington Township School District v. Schempp) declared school sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional. The key words here are 'school sponsored'. Students are allowed to pray as long as it is initiated by them and does not interfere with classes or instruction. Please reference this court ruling and the additional references I included in the article concerning the opinions of the Clinton and Bush administrations position on public school prayer.
You are referring to my requests for documentation as 'whining'. Yet all I am trying to do is follow the commandments and guidelines of this encyclopedia. This is Conservapedia, an organization where the article writers must provide documentation for their articles. This is not Wikipedia where everyone is entitled to their own opinion without providing references. What is wrong with insisting that everyone follow the rules and guidelines?
I'm sure that you noticed that the vast majority of this article has been written by me. Every word I have written is backed-up by references as required by the commandments. Yet this doesn't seem to satisfy you, why not? I've put a significant amount of time into this article and when someone makes an unreferenced assertion, I would like them to provide the same type of references that I am required to.
If you have an addition to this article or a source that can back-up what is already written, then please contribute your efforts. Where this article is concerned, all you have done is complain when someone is trying to make valid contributions. --Jimmy 16:28, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Jimmy, sources are readily available on the internet, or simply ask someone who goes to public school, or teaches there.--Aschlafly 16:36, 1 January 2008 (EST)
If the sources are readily available, then they should be listed with the article. A person reading the article shouldn't have to do their own research when the article writer is required to provide a reference.--Jimmy 16:53, 1 January 2008 (EST)

Mandatory / Teacher-lead / Spoken Prayers

I'm sorry if there was some sort of misunderstanding, but I wasn't aware that all spoken prayer is banned in public schools... would a student making a simple prayer (at a practical time) really be punished for doing so? Perhaps I'm missing another sort of prayer, other than teacher-led, that is also banned? I was just trying to clarify what is actually "forbidden" and where these lines are drawn in most public schools. Feebasfactor 16:06, 1 January 2008 (EST)

Yes, it is banned. Surely you know someone who goes to public school, or teaches there???? Anyone, teacher or student, who tries to lead a prayer in school is likely to be disciplined and have that go on his record.--Aschlafly 16:34, 1 January 2008 (EST)
I know people that go to and teach at public schools and prayer is allowed many times during the day, even during class time as long as it does not interfere with instruction. Yet the article states: 'Spoken prayer … are expressly forbidden in public schools classrooms during school hours, and teaching of morality is implicitly disfavored.' I would like to see a reference that supports that sentence, it seems to be at odds with what I observe and current legal reasoning.--Jimmy 16:50, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Ah, yes, I see what you mean Andy... sorry, I didn't mean to overemphasize who it was leading the prayer. In public schools, essentially any prayer beyond individual, inconspicuous prayer on one's own time is banned or strongly discouraged. Perhaps instead of "spoken prayer"... "group prayer" or "collective prayer" might more accurately denote this situation? I'm not sure, the current term seemed a bit confusing - but that might just be me. Anyway, clarify it if you like, thanks for explaining. Feebasfactor 20:34, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Why were my edits reverted? I've been asking for a reference for the school prayer comments at the top of the page for a while and none were provided. The comment about prominent Americans not attending public schools since 1962 was deleted because I felt it was a little odd to have that sentence there when it is obvious that it was not true.--Jimmy 13:21, 4 January 2008 (EST)
The list shows that the only prominent Americans were educated before 1962, and there is no disputing the observation about prayer being banned at public schools, along with the Ten Commandments. You can easily find cites for that if that were your goal. Deleting factual information for liberal reasons is allowed at Wikipedia, but not here.--Aschlafly 13:24, 4 January 2008 (EST)
There are two lists of prominent Americans educated in public schools. The second list provides the names of fifteen that were educated after 1962 so why are you insisting that there aren't any prominent Americans educated after 1962? I am disputing your observation concerning public school prayer because according to George W. Bush and the Department of Education, you are wrong, and Bush is far from being a liberal.
I can't find any cites to support your conclusions about public school prayer; that is why I want you to provide them. If they exist, please show me where, according to the commandments it is your responsibility to do so. Since Conservapedia is supposed to be "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia", I feel that references should be provided for every alleged fact presented in its pages. I don't see how that has a liberal stance, facts are facts.--Jimmy 13:40, 4 January 2008 (EST)
Um, last time I checked, only teacher led/mandatory prayer in schools was banned. Students/Teachers can pray, however, they can't be disruptive to the class or make others pray that don't want to. Anyways, then there is the matter of which religion's prayers/worship style should be used. That would show favoritism to one religion and annoy other people who get offended. This leads to either having the class do prayers, etc.. of every religion or not having any prayer mandatory. The first option is infeasible because it would detract from time that could be used to learn subject material. So that is why teacher led/mandatory prayer isn't allowed in public schools. Willing individuals can pray together, however it must not be a distraction to a class. This is my two cents.JudgeKing 13:00, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

Unjustified Edits

Mr. Schlafly:

This is just getting worse. Your reference to the prohibition of the Ten Commandments in public schools is a reference to another Conservapedia article which itself doesn't have a reference. How is that suppose to work? And this reference has nothing to do with the alleged prohibition of spoken prayer or teaching of morality. I'll ask again, can you provide valid references for the following opinions you have made; spoken prayer is prohibited in public schools, school prayer was banned in 1962, and the teaching of morality is disfavored? According to the commandments of this encyclopedia, you are not providing the proper documentation for most of your opinions expressed in this article and yet I get the feeling you wouldn't tolerate unreferenced edits from me.

Changing the heading of the second list of Americans that attended public schools doesn't make sense. Of the fifteen people listed, only three can be considered 'celebrities'. The rest are prominent business men, astronauts, politicians, an aviator and a soldier. Since only 20% of the people listed are celebrities, how does that add up to 'mostly celebrity'?

I get the feeling that I am going to be blocked soon. I was warned once before about not insisting on people following the rules of this encyclopedia and that I should be expected to look up the references for other people's opinions even if I didn't think they were valid. I hope I'll be able to make contributions to this website.--Jimmy 20:38, 4 January 2008 (EST)

Not quite yet, but I reverted your last edit here. If you feel that schools are teaching morality, reversing the wording of one sentence isn't helping the article.
Can you write a few sentences on Morality in public schools, please? --Ed Poor Talk 23:22, 5 January 2008 (EST)
I would like to write a section about morality in public schools, but what good would it do. The second sentence of this article claims, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that student prayer in public schools is prohibited and morality implicitly disfavored. It doesn't matter that I provided plenty of evidence that this assertion is completely without basis. Unless the second sentence is changed to reflect reality, this article will always look goofy. The latest reference that Aschlafly supplied actually shows prayer is allowed at public schools. I quote from the reference, "It ended in the spring of 2006 when the Knox County School Board promised in writing to allow students "religious expression" during "discretionary time." Far from demonstrating that public schools are forbidding prayer, this reference makes it clear that if students are denied the right to pray during non-instructional times, they always have someone that will fight for them and restore their rights.
Look at the edits I made earlier that were reverted. Notice how many times 'atheistic' was replaced with 'secular' before it wasn't reverted. A list showing a broad coalition of civil liberties groups supporting public school prayer was removed for being 'liberal'. I've had no luck removing the 'disclaimer' about prominent Americans being educated in public schools. It still states prayer is banned and no 'prominent Americans' have been educated in public schools even though I have demonstrated otherwise. I've made continuous requests for references to support the opinions expressed in the second sentence of this article only to be ignored and threatened. Will you offer any assurance that what I write will not be summarily dismissed? I'd hate to waste my time.--Jimmy 00:07, 6 January 2008 (EST)

Reference List

Something happened to the reference list after my last edit. --Jimmy 11:33, 5 May 2008 (EDT)

*points to #25 and #26* +_+ always tired Kektk 17:33, 25 May 2008 (EDT)

Drop out rates

It's worse in some districts. Less than 25% of students in Detroit graduate. That is one big reason why I am working on getting certified to teach in the inner city - the need is so great. DanH 17:40, 25 May 2008 (EDT)

God bless you for doing that, Dan. If I could hold classroom prayer to start the class with those kids and get rid of the liberal ideology, I could double that graduation rate. But the liberals won't allow it.--Aschlafly 17:42, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
Actually, it's probably because the No Child Left Behind Act. The NCLBA forces teachers to teach to the test instead of the subject matter. Schools that don't meet the requirements loose funding and find themselves in financial holes that are kind of hard to get out of (that was an understatement). It also forces schools to reduce funding in the science arts in favor of basic skills. While the basic skills are important, the sciences and arts are absolutely paramount to society. Anyways, the government as a whole must take the blame for this because of the negative effects. JudgeKing 13:13, 25 October 2008 (EDT)

Political Correctness as a Hindering Factor

It's frequently noted that private schools tend to do better than public schools, and that other countries (India, China, and so forth) are turning out more and better-equipped scientists and engineers than America at present.

I would suggest that there's a common factor: none of those educational environments are guided by the notion that every student has equal ability, and that if we just try really hard, every student can achieve at the same level.

Bluntly: that notion is political correctness, and it's a tremendous handicap for several reasons.

First, it makes it all but impossible to hold students accountable for their own education. Social promotion ensures that students who make no effort continue to be passed on to higher grades. While in school, they face essentially no consequences for lack of effort; the consequences only catch up with them when they get out into the real world and discover that they're woefully unqualified for any job.

Second, the one-size-fits-all approach to education hurts both gifted and non-gifted students in the name of "not labeling." Modern educational theory insists that students at all levels of ability need to be taught in the same classroom at the same time, resulting in a Catch-22. Either the teacher can teach at the level of the lowest students in the class--ensuring that the rest of the class will be bored stiff and receive little useful information--or at a higher level, ensuring that the struggling students will be lost.

This is hand-waved with bland optimism and buzzwords like "differentiated instruction." There's only so much differentiation you can do in forty minutes, though.

Why is it wrong to suggest that working with a group of students who are at roughly the same level will enable lessons to be tailored to that level? Why is it wrong to suggest that students who excel in English, in science, or in mathematics be given the chance to excel and to push beyond the baseline curriculum? That is how other countries produce better-educated engineers and scientists: they don't try to educate everyone to the same level.

Apologies for the rant, but as a teacher in a public school myself, I'm frequently frustrated by having my hands tied. --Benp 20:30, 10 June 2008 (EDT)

A suggestion about references

Mr. DeanS: The references for the claim that public schools are atheistic are downright embarrassing. The first reference deals with Kennedy's assertion that public schools are atheistic; no need for him to give any evidence, just blah, blah, blah. The second reference is from WND, that by itself is bad enough, but after taking 30 seconds to read the article, I actually laughed out loud for a few seconds. I don't quite understand, the reference says the school is allowing football players to pray as a group, and this is your evidence that public schools are atheistic? I thought public school students weren't allowed to pray in public schools? That is the completely unsupported claim made by one of the editors of this article. Yet you posted a reference that stated kids are allowed to pray? The third reference actually said students have the right to pray during discretionary time. It stated at the beginning of the article, "It ended in the spring of 2006 when the Knox County School Board promised in writing to allow students "religious expression" during "discretionary time." And you insist on saying this is a quality reference for your assertion that public schools are atheistic? Please give me a break. You can do much better than that. If your claim can actually be supported that is.

This article is a complete piece of junk because it has so many contradicting claims. Every claim that public schools are atheistic or doesn't teach morals is backed up with lousy references that don't support the claim while the entries I wrote used reliable references. Is there any chance this article can be edited to reflect reality? I realize some people just can't grasp the concept that students in America's secular public schools are allowed to pray, out loud, even during classes, and are allowed to read the Ten Commandments, etc. I know this because this is what happens at every public school my children have attended and this is what our current president even says. Now if you want to claim Bush doesn't know what he is talking about, go right ahead and say he is a clueless fool for insisting that public school students don't have the religious freedoms he claims. But please post intelligent and meaningful references, if they can be found, that way this encyclopedia won't look ignorant. --Jimmy 00:19, 11 June 2008 (EDT)

Jimmy, don't make emotional arguments to promote an editorial suggestion; as you say, it's embarrassing. Follow your own advice, such as, "You can do much better than that. If your claim can actually be supported . . ." --Ed Poor Talk 11:13, 30 August 2008 (EDT)
Uh. Jimmy's post is dated "June 11, 2008". As you say he says, it's embarrassing. Jimmy has also been banned for all eternity more than two weeks ago. --DirkB 19:01, 30 August 2008 (EDT)

Atheistic and secular

The secularism of the US public schools promotes atheism. Let's not pretend otherwise. User:Human, you do indeed risk your editing rights to assert otherwise.

If you can find support for religion in any public school, you may add that to the counterexamples section (or start such a section). But the trend is clearly toward Atheism, a positive denial of the existence of God, along with Materialism, an explicit denial of the reality of the supernatural.

Do not use edit summaries as a debate forum. You know better than this. --Ed Poor Talk 11:11, 30 August 2008 (EDT)

The secularism of the US public schools promotes atheism. This, I think may be true. But that's a different thing from saying the schools ARE atheist. If you take a look at the US Dept of Ed's Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools [1], which is the government's official word on the subject, you get a pretty good idea of the governing principals and where the line is supposed to be drawn. (Of course, there are always school districts here and there who step over the line one way or another, usually with much fanfare in the press. This doesn't, however, change the fact that schools are supposed to follow the guidelines set forth by the Dept of Ed.) Some highlights:

  • The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer. This, I would argue, is pretty much the definition of "secular". It's certainly not atheist.
  • Accordingly, the First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals, and the line between government-sponsored and privately initiated religious expression is vital to a proper understanding of the First Amendment's scope. As the Court has explained in several cases, "there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect."
  • Although the Constitution forbids public school officials from directing or favoring prayer, students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate," and the Supreme Court has made clear that "private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression."
  • "nothing in the Constitution ... prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day," and students may pray with fellow students during the school day on the same terms and conditions that they may engage in other conversation or speech.

  • Prayer During Noninstructional Time - Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities. Among other things, students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other noninstructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities.
  • Organized Prayer Groups and Activities - Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and "see you at the pole" gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups. Such groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other non-curricular groups, without discrimination because of the religious content of their expression.
  • Teachers, Administrators, and other School Employees - Teachers may take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities. Before school or during lunch, for example, teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities. Similarly, teachers may participate in their personal capacities in privately sponsored baccalaureate ceremonies.
  • Moments of Silence - If a school has a "minute of silence" or other quiet periods during the school day, students are free to pray silently, or not to pray, during these periods of time.
  • Religious Expression and Prayer in Class Assignments - Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.

I think "secular" is the more accurate term, despite a few examples of schools which mistakenly restricted students' rights to prayer. Trends away from secularism, and so on, can be described in a paragraph later in the entry. --Hsmom 17:12, 30 August 2008 (EDT)

"Secular" means: "1 a: of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns> b: not overtly or specifically religious <secular music> c: not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>"[2]
None of those definitions describes the overwhelmingly atheistic leadership and culture of public schools. Students are more likely to hear God mentioned or worshiped in an atheistic country than in a public school.--Aschlafly 18:50, 30 August 2008 (EDT)
Nitpick: My Circular Reasoning sense is tingling: You look at a definition for "secular", realize that it doesn't meet your assumption that the public schools are atheistic (and not secular) and then conclude that "secular" is not the right word. --DirkB 18:57, 30 August 2008 (EDT)
Late comment: I'd prefer the term "nontheistic." "Atheistic" implies explicit denial of the existence of a higher being; "nontheistic" implies that the schools just don't address the concept. -CSGuy 14:59, 16 November 2008 (EST)

Removal of Section on Famous Americans

There are so many things wrong with the section on famous Americans who have attended public school. How do you define "attended": is it graduates only, or those who have spent even a day in a public institution? How do you define "prominent American"? Politicians, musicians, artists, owners of large corporations, athletes, who counts? Also, note that the list would probably require several hundred pages, considering that virtually ever American who has a graduate-level education (GED-worthy) attended a public school, including a vast, vast majority of Americans that would be considered "prominent." And what's up with that statistic that claims that fewer prominent Americans have come out of the public school system since prayer was banned? There is absolutely no way that a claim like that can be tested, measured, or even looked at in a serious light. I vote to delete the section entirely. And mind you I have many, many friends who graduated from the public school system who are doing just fine, which is remarkable considering that I live in Los Angeles, which has one of the highest dropout rates in the country. I remember my mother still works at a particularly prominent school in Hollywood, and at the end of each year she takes several students who graduated out to lunch to congratulate them because it's such an achievement at some schools in the city. I don't think that has anything to do with prayer though (religious children fail to graduate just as often as secular ones). -Ilikecake 17:04, 11 November 2008 (EST)

Statistics

  • A few comments on the recently-added statistics:
  • Illegal drugs: The survey that statistic comes from includes both public and private schools. (See [3])
  • Teen pregnancy: The number is for one city in Virginia, and makes no distinction between public school, private school, and homeschooled teens.
  • Obesity: A similar comment. The number is for one school district.
  • Mental health: According to this government website, an estimated 20% of people 9-17 years old have some sort of mental disorder. Since the source for the "almost 10%" statistic (I think it would be better just to say 8%, by the way) doesn't say what exactly it means by "mental health issues," there's really no way to determine what the significance of the number is. Also, that number is for one school district. It's not enough data to say the number applies to public school students in general.
Usual disclaimers apply. -CSGuy 20:34, 21 December 2008 (EST)
Any study that includes public and private schools is going to be 90% public school, so the private school distinction is insignificant. If anything, private schools are better, which makes the real public school statistic even worse than reported. The teen pregnancy statistic is for public and private schools, not homeschoolers (where teen pregnancy rates are virtually 0). The government estimate on mental health is interesting but does not change the school statistic.--aschlafly 20:57, 21 December 2008 (EST)
  • The teen pregnancy statistic is for all teens in the relevant area - which includes homeschoolers. (You can find the data from this page on the VA department of health's website. Under "Data Tables," pick either 2007 table from the Teenage Pregnancies drop-down box.)
  • No, the estimate doesn't change the school statistic; however, it does change its significance.
  • You have failed to address my comments regarding the samples. Except for the illegal drugs statistic and the government mental health statistic, all the numbers I mentioned come from samples that were relatively small and not particularly diverse; you can't just assume those statistics are equal to those for the general public school population. -CSGuy 21:06, 21 December 2008 (EST)
You only challenge 4 out of the 11 points, and one of your 4 (the obesity statistic) can hardly be disputed. Just look at how fat public school kids are. Maybe the statistic is slightly off, but I could find 5 stories in 60 seconds decrying the obesity in public school kids.
And that illustrates the problem with your comments. You're not showing a genuine interest in the crisis when you deny facts that you could easily confirm yourself and improve the entry with additional references. I'm not here to persuade someone determined not to be persuaded. I already suggest to parents that they get their kids out of public school, and yet still try to help those stuck in the system and still look for ways to improve the system for the kids. You, however, seem determined not to help.--aschlafly 21:15, 21 December 2008 (EST)
Because I don't challenge all of the statistics, my criticisms can't be taken seriously? Also, note that all I deny is that you are correctly interpreting the statistics. Finally, you still haven't responded to my comments regarding the samples. -CSGuy 21:34, 21 December 2008 (EST)

Where is your proof?

Why did you insert that 77% statistic into the public school article? The article provided did not say that statistic. Where is your proof? --Metzky 20:42, 2 January 2009 (EST)

Note: when stating "article" I mean the conservapedia article, but when I say "source", I mean the source that is cited.
After reading the sources from the statistics, I have a major problems with what the article is claiming to have evidence of:


1.One source says "In 1991, 62 percent had used illicit drugs. In 2007, the number jumped to 77 percent." (it is the link with the number "6"). However, this does not mean "77% do illegal drugs", as stated in the article. It simply means that, at one point in their life, 77% have done drugs. The difference in verb tense makes a huge difference. Note that "have done" can be anything as small as having one drink in their entire life or smoking marijuana once.
2.I was unable to find where the pregnancy rate of 10% came from. I read the entire article sourced for the statistic twice and was unable to find it. The only thing close to it was "In a school of 2,211 students, there are at least 70 girls who are soon-to-be or already mothers." This indicates a pregnancy rate of 3%, not 10%. Also, the statistic of about half getting abortions is not representative of the population, as there was only a sample size of 200 from Alexandria in Virginia.
3.Also, the article sourced for "nearly 10% have mental health problems" specifically states in the second paragraph: "8 percent had mental health issues." 10% and 8% are huge differences in the world of statistics. There is no problem with stating "8%". Also, the study was on students in a Memphis school district. This means that the statistic is unable to be extrapolated to all of American public school students. Memphis students are not representative of the entire population of students, so no such claim is possible.
4.The same goes for the 35% said to be obese. (Added in after originally posted William Beasontalk 21:23, 2 January 2009 (EST))
5.The same error just mentioned is committed when stating "20% go on dangerous "binge drinking," and 50% drink illegally". The statistic cited is for Ottowa County in Michigan. (not representative of the entire population)
6.An even more egregious error is committed concerning the number of students who watch more than 3 hours of television. The national average that the source refers to is public school students. The 60% statistic is for Memphis students. The 35% is the national average for public school students.
7.On bullying, the source states "Nationally, about 160,000 students miss school daily because they fear being bullied". When checking this, the source is completely wrong:
If you want a source that is not CNN, then:
In reality, it is "Every year more than 160,000 students report missing some school because they are afraid." (added after originally posted William Beasontalk 21:32, 2 January 2009 (EST)) It is not every day, but at least some every year. This includes simply being late in one day the entire year.


Overall, the sources seem to be taken from where public schools are doing the worst rather than average public schools. The sample sizes are extremely small and are taken specifically from the regions where public schools are doing the worst. These are not representative of how the entire public school system is doing. The statistics have either been gravely misinterpreted or are being misconstrued on purpose by the person who wrote that part of the article. The article is very misleading.
I hope this is fixed soon. William Beasontalk 21:19, 2 January 2009 (EST)
In response to point 1 above, drugs are addictive. Very few people do drugs only once. In response to point 2 above, please realize that boys don't get pregnant, and half of pregnant high school girls get an abortion.
Guys, I stopped there. Raise the quality of your criticisms, please, if you want a response. And pick your best criticism rather than pretending that quantity is a substitute for quality. It isn't.--aschlafly 21:47, 2 January 2009 (EST)
That's too bad. Numbers six and seven seem valid, if not the others. LiamG 22:00, 2 January 2009 (EST)
  1. US Dept of Ed's Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools[4]