Texas Freedom Network Applauds House Committee Action on Bible Class Bill
Public Education Committee Adds Responsible Safeguards to H.B. 1287 to Protect Religious Freedom and School Districts from Legal Jeopardy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2007
The Texas Freedom Network today applauded the work of the House Public Education Committee, which added key safeguards to a bill calling for Bible classes in Texas public high schools.
“These committee members clearly understood that families and churches, not the government, should teach our children what to believe about the Bible,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “They voted to give the Bible the respect it deserves and we trust that the full House will show the same care and diligence when it takes up the bill.”
Through a series of amendments, the committee added the following safeguards to the bill:
- measures on teacher training and qualifications,
- requirements for curriculum standards and an actual textbook (rather than using the Bible as a textbook),
- stronger protections for the religious freedom of students and their families, and
- allowing local school officials to decide whether their districts will offer courses about the Bible.
A 2006 study for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund by Dr. Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, identified 25 public high schools already offering such courses in Texas. (The report is available at http://www.tfn.org/religiousfreedom/biblecurriculum/.) Many of the courses suffer from serious problems, including a failure to meet even minimal standards for teacher qualifications and academic rigor. More seriously, many end up being courses about the religious views of the teachers, undermining the religious freedom of the students and their families.
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who advance a mainstream agenda supporting public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.