The Tea Party, Homeschooling, School Prayer, and Me
Thanks to the We The People Jefferson County Tea Party PAC (WTPWV) for hosting a candidates forum last night for Board of Education and Judge candidates. The host/moderator was welcoming and most gracious in explaining the question and answer format. I appreciated the opportunity to offer my views on issues important to audience members.
In truth, I never thought I would ever find myself invited to speak at a “Tea Party” event. But, I also never thought I would attend a homeschooling meeting, but I did last month. It was primarily faith-based and revealed keen frustration with public schools, including issues of overcrowding, bullying, quality of public school education, and school safety. These were heartfelt concerns that many parents share and wrestle with.
After that, I received an inquiry regarding my thoughts on school prayer. I replied, “The establishment clause of the 1st amendment, as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, holds that students cannot be required to pray, nor can schools affirm one religion over others. Still, the 1st amendment does protect students right to pray and exercise their religious beliefs, specifically during non-instructional time. Whether it is students gathering around the flagpole before the first bell to join in prayers, or the creation of prayer groups or religious clubs in the same way that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups. In short, I feel the individual students right to pray is in place, along with opt-in opportunities to join with others in exercising and exploring their faith during non-instructional time in line with the 1st amendment and Supreme Court rulings.”
At the forum last night, there were some in the audience who wore their politics on their sleeves, a fear that Islamic law and the “common core” were being taught in public schools, that abstaining from sexual relations should be the overriding lesson taught to coming of age high school students, and concern with “rogue” teachers espousing their liberal political views on students. And, there were also those who voiced concerns, heartfelt concerns, about the future of Jefferson County Schools.
Running for School Board has been an invitation, on many levels, for me to move outside my personal comfort zone, and I am hopeful that I will be the better for it when the last vote is cast on May 8th.
I think I will.