Seeing God in schools

Couple of blog posts on God in schools:

Cafe News Blogger Kurt Wiesner responds to calls to “Put God back in schools.” Part of it was rebuttal of bad theology, and another part clarifying church and state laws: both why separation of Church and State is critical, and what the Constitution protects concerning prayer in school.

He also said that there is the culture of schools could be improved by focusing on the sacred:

This is not achieved by requiring or elevating the use of the word “God”, or that everyone should be Christian, Jew, Muslim or Atheist. And yet, ironically, banning or avoiding those words and distinctions is unhelpful as well.

Young people experience the sacred when they value themselves and the people around them. They have the opportunity to learn this in multiple ways: in the care and concern for others, in the space for exploring honest questions, in the moments where adults take them seriously, and, yes, in the faithful (but not mandated) practice of religion where difference and common values are held in esteem. They find the sacred in a structure that manages their time without overwhelming them. They encounter the sacred in athletics when they witness the desire to do one’s best, but not in the win at all costs mentality. They experience the sacred in communal opportunities like clubs, teams, and ensembles.

Do you really want room for the sacred in our schools? Stop mandating the focus on standardized tests and school status. Let go of the power struggles between administrations, school boards, and teacher unions. Work to create an environment where educators can get back to teaching critical thinking, life skills, exploration of the world through history and literature, an appreciation and experience of art and culture, and valuing respect and dignity for all life. Allow the truth to be told concerning our American history: good and bad. Broaden our sense of wonder for the fragility and the resilience of people and the environment.

Trust that in the opening of hearts and minds, the vision of God’s dream for the world will indeed be worked out.

Kimberly Buckley wrote on God’s presence in Schools with an open letter addressed to Mike Huckabee, found on the blog Educate for Texas:

For many students, that public school you deride is their only constant; their only refuge; their only normalcy. Like educators across the nation, my elementary school principal husband and his staff work daily with homeless children, hungry children, abused children, broken children. He and his staff feed their bodies, characters, minds, and souls. They do it every day. They do it for little pay and they do it for lousy benefits. They do it despite the disrespect they sometimes feel from parents and the public. They do it in the face of disdain from politicos that claim they’re fleecing taxpayer money and don’t contribute revenue to the economy. They do it even as they’re called “union thugs.” Educators are God’s workers – there’s no other reason to think a person would endure so much to receive so little.

These educators, aided by school support staff and parent/community volunteers, are God-given, Mr. Huckabee. Through them God’s miracles happen every day. Through education, God’s children are provided a shot at a better life. In my state of Texas, 25% of children live in poverty (the statistics in your home state of Arkansas are similar). For some of these children, these educators are the only chance they have of breaking the poverty cycle. In those Godless government schools, they have a chance at a better tomorrow. The school is a place where they can not only explore their life’s dreams, but be provided the tools to achieve those dreams. It is the tireless men and women of the school systems that will give them those tools.

And these educators wear many hats – not only do they educate and lead, they serve as role models, protectors, life coaches, and cheerleaders. They’re in loco parenti. They’re friends and counselors. Unfortunately, some in Connecticut even served as human shields – coming between bullets and six year olds. If serving children and the community in this way isn’t the work of a higher power, I don’t know what is.

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