The concept of God in public school classrooms has been an issue of debate for the past few decades. It has raised challenging and controversial legal issues that required involvement by the Supreme Court. The following question has been debated: Should the Pledge of Allegiance be allowed to be recited in public schools? Some states permit it, while other states have struck it down. However, Massachusetts’ Supreme Court recently handed down a surprising decision this past May. The court ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance did not discriminate against Atheists, the words “Under God,” referring to a patriotic versus religious practice (Lavender, 2014). Should teaching of the Bible and prayers be allowed in public schools? In 1962, the United States Supreme Court took on Engel v. Vitale, which dealt with prayer controversy in New York public schools. The court’s verdict ruled against prayers in school, stating that New York violated the First Amendment by establishing religion. In Abington School District v. Schempp, the Supreme Court decided against any Bible teachings in public schools (Waggoner, 2012).
The issue of defining race in schools has also sparked legal debates over the years. The Supreme Court established desegregation laws in the 1960s. However, federal funding for desegregation programs aimed at improving school curriculum and acknowledging racial division has stopped. Backsliding into segregation, the United States Supreme Court halted most desegregation decrees during the 1990s. The court also ruled against a Kentucky school that tried to keep desegregation efforts going. (Orfield, 2008). In today’s colleges, race issues still exist. When UCLA law professor Richard Sander announced his racially divisive scholarship last year, some students supported him with “Team Sander” tee-shirts. Some minorities who fought back with flyers were physically threatened, the flyers also ripped down (Mystal, 2014).
Laws concerning race and God in schools continue to be debated by the Supreme Court. It is a controversial subject that poses many challenges with no easy answers or quick solutions.
- Lavender, P. (2014, May 9). Pledge of allegiance in public schools doesn’t discriminate against atheists, court says. Retrieved from TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
- Mystal, E. (2014, February 24). Racism abounds at UCLA school of law. Retrieved from Breaking Media, Inc.: http://abovethelaw.com
- Orfield, G. (2008). Race and schools: The need for action. Retrieved from NEA.org: http://www.nea.org
- Waggoner, M. D. (2012, June 25). When the court took on prayer and the bible in public schools . Retrieved from Religion and Politics.org