Schools in Rhea County, Tennessee (near Chattanooga) have been teaching children the Bible. Citing the separation of church and state, the courts have ordered a halt to this 50 year old practice.
Maybe this will make it to the Supreme Court. It might be interesting to see what happens. We could certainly have some discussions over what is meant by the separation of church and state, whether these classes did (or even could) cross the line, whether there ought to be prayer in school, etc. But I don’t want to blog about that.
There is a phrase used by homeschoolers that you may have heard. We do not generally refer to “public schools”. We talk about “government schools”. It’s not an attempt to be cute. (Well, sometimes it is.) Above all, it is _accurate_.
These are not public schools. _Parks_ are public. Anyone can come to a park and do pretty much whatever. We can go to the park and pray if we want to. As long as you’re not hurting anybody, there aren’t many rules. You can come and go, or never go, as you please.
Schools are not like this. Schools are not “public”. They are _owned_ and, more importantly, _controlled_ by the government. The _federal_ government, as this case shows.
_Because_ the “public” schools are in fact _government_ schools – owned, ruled, and run by the government – the government can and does make any rule it pleases. The government can decide that _its_ schools will teach atheistic evolution. Mandatory sex education. Ban Bible classes and teacher-led prayer. Ban prayer at football games and graduations. Censor valedictory speeches. Have other government employees (CPS, for instance), meet with and question children _without the parents’ knowledge or consent_. Pretty much anything it wants. The government has this power because it owns and controls the schools.
It is not any particular abuse that contributes to my decision to homeschool my children. It is the power the government has over its own institutions and employees, and the consequent potential for many abuses.
_That_ is why we call them “government schools”.