First, let's take a look-see at the post in question:
After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:As I mentioned at the top of this commentary, there are several flagrant flaws with this post.
"Let me see if I've got this right.
"You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
"You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.
"You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.
"You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
"You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.
"You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.
"You want me to do all this, and then you tell me......
"I CAN'T PRAY?"
This was nominated for email of the year - DE
First, it operates on the presumption that PRAYER is not allowed in schools. (Since the post neglects to clarify if this alleged conversation took place in a public or private school setting, let's assume we're focusing on the public school system.) Which is a ludicrous position. Teachers, students, administrators, and anyone else on public school property are allowed to pray whenever they wish.What they cannot do, however, is pray in a manner that would coerce anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, to participate as well. It isn't prayer that is forbidden, it's organized prayer.
According to Americans United, The U.S. Supreme Court has been vigilant in forbidding public schools and other agencies of the government to interfere with Americans' constitutional right to follow their own consciences when it comes to religion. In 1962, the justices ruled that official prayer had no place in public education.
This decision is widely misunderstood today. The court did not rule that students are forbidden to pray on their own; the justices merely said that government officials had no business composing a prayer for students to recite. The Engel v. Vitale case came about because parents in New York challenged a prayer written by a New York education board. These Christian, Jewish and Unitarian parents did not want their children subjected to state-sponsored devotions. The high court agreed that the scheme amounted to government promotion of religion.
A second flaw goes along with the initial point, the presumption that RELIGION or RELIGIOUS DISCUSSION are not allowed in public schools. The same points I brought up from Americans United apply here. The high court has made it clear, time and again, that objective study about religion in public schools is legal and appropriate. Many public schools offer courses in comparative religion, the Bible as literature or the role of religion in world and U.S. history. As long as the approach is objective, balanced and non-devotional, these classes present no constitutional problem.
When I was teaching British Literature, I frequently brought Christian theology into the discussion as reference points when presenting works such as Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales. There's no way around it, to be honest. Chaucer's work, for example, is based entirely on the premise of a religious pilgrimage from London to the to shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral which involved a number of Catholic representatives, such as a nun, priest, friar, parson, monk, summoner, and pardoner. To understand not only their roles, but the purpose of the entire 70-mile pilgrimage, I believe my students needed to understand completely the context of who they were and what their purpose was. Religious discussion was paramount.
In my debate program, we often have topics come up that have religious angles to them. Current events - from Obamacare to abortion to physician-assisted suicide - frequent the debate issues, with philosophical conversations (often tinged with religious viewpoints) abound. It is part of the discussion; it can not - and should not - be prevented from being a part of the classroom.
Finally, if a prospective teacher, upon finishing a job interview, had the audacity to make all of these claims, I'd be hard pressed to understand why he or she chose to go into education, or at least into the public sector of education. (And, to be honest, if I were an administrator and heard those words coming out of a potential hire's mouth, I'd be apt to shuffle his or her resume to the bottom of the pile.)
Yes, I'm taking this meme far too literally. I realize what it is trying to say. But as an educator, I take an extremely dim view of what is presented here. It implies our teacher education programs have done a horrid job of preparing future teachers for the school environment. Or that prospective teacher hires are unable or unwilling to actually do the job. Or that new-to-the-profession educators have absolutely no concept of how the SCOTUS "Establishment Clause" ruling impacts prayer and/or religion in the public schools.
Whoever nominated this for "email of the year" needs a better education about religion. And about public education.