It’s the beginning of the second week of the 2015-2016 school year. What better time to examine two trends in K-12 education that do not bode well for the future, unless Americans once again take control of their laws and their schools? First, from Fox News, the Left’s continuing attempt to drive any mention of the influence of faith from our public schools, and one community’s bravery in fighting back:
There was no halftime show under the Friday night lights at Mississippi’s Brandon High School — the marching band had been benched.
The band was ordered off the field because the Christian hymn ‘How Great Thou Art’ was a part of their halftime show — in violation of a federal court order.
‘The Rankin County School Board and District Office are very saddened students will not be able to perform their halftime show they have worked so hard on this summer,’ the district wrote in a statement to the Clarion Ledger newspaper.
At first blush, this might seem like the kind of overly simplified story of radical Christians trying to proselytize helpless, captive children. It is anything but.
In 2013 a student sued the district over a series of Christian meetings that had been held on school property, the newspaper reported. The district later settled the lawsuit and acknowledged they had violated the student’s First Amendment rights.
In July, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the district had violated the agreement after a Christian minister delivered a prayer at an awards ceremony.
Judge Reeves, who was appointed to the bench by President Obama, came down hard on the school district — ordering them to pay thousands of dollars in fines. He also warned the district that future violations would cost them $10,000.
‘Defendants are permanently enjoined from including prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event including but not limited to assemblies, graduations, award ceremonies, athletic events and any other school event,’ the order reads.
If not taken to extremes, this is not an entirely unreasonable order by the judge. However, it appears the Judge Reeves is taking a ridiculously expansive view of “activities.” The idea that a school band cannot play a hymn tune–a composition for instruments with no lyrics–is plainly going too far, not only constitutionally, but in terms of curriculum. Citizens decided they were not going to take it:
During halftime of Friday night’s game – a lone voice began to sing the forbidden song.
‘Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,’ the singer sang.
Brittany Mann was there and she witnessed the entire moment of defiance.
‘We were just sitting there and then one by one people started to stand. At first, it started out as a hum but the sound got louder and louder.’
She said it was a ‘truly incredible’ moment to watch hundreds of people singing together in the stadium.
‘At that moment I was so proud of my town – coming together and taking a stand for something we believe in,’ she said. ‘It breaks my heart to see where our country is going — getting farther and farther away from the Christian beliefs that our country was founded on.
Mann wasn’t alone:
We may be pictured as toothless, barefoot, uneducated people around the country, but we are far from it,’ nearby resident Mandy Miller told me. ‘I’m from Mississippi and I’m not ashamed to take a stand. This is the kind of thing that makes me proud to be from the South,’ Miss Mandy told me. ‘We are getting tired of being told to sit down and shut up. People are ready to fight back.
The law on expressions of religion in the school is unambiguous. Discussions of faith and its influence on human development and culture are not only permissible, but absolutely necessary in history, literature, music, science and other disciplines. To omit such topic would amount to educational malpractice, depriving children of the truth and the facts. However, schools may not engage in proselytism, nor may teachers or other school authorities require students to participate in religious observances. This is reasonable, and well-settled law.
Many schools–and states–get around such strictures with “moments of silence,” masquerading as having nothing to do with prayer, but unlike some on the far right claim, prayer–and God–have not been removed from the schools. Kids are free to pray and read the Bible at times and places that are not disruptive to the educational mission of schools.
Music programs, particularly, have been damaged by radical leftists claiming an absolute right to never be exposed to anything with which they might possibly disagree. To such people, faith is perhaps most disagreeable. Some school choirs have been enjoined by courts to eliminate any music with potentially religious roots, intentions or lyrics. Such strictures rip the heart from any vocal music curriculum. Most vocal music written prior to the Baroque era (app. 1600-1750), and much thereafter, was church music, or music written to express religious feelings or devotion. Much of the most beautiful, technically accomplished and meaningful music of all time falls into that category. Life without Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem Mass, the music of Palestrina, or Beible’s Ave Maria, would be immeasurably diminished.
Hymn tunes are the basis for no small amount of popular music, and form an unbreakable link with the music of our ancestors. What is the message of a hymn tune played by a band, a song without lyrics, lyrics that should be unknown to the kinds of people that feel compelled to object to music with some connection to faith? Do they object to a message they do not know, or are they objecting to the musical form of the piece, something else about which most people have little or no knowledge?
In any case, the response of individual citizens to an abusive ruling by an Obama-appointed federal judge was perfectly measured and beyond his authority to control. Absent clear evidence school authorities planned, encouraged or otherwise had knowledge of a single person’s decision to begin singing, the school cannot be punished. The judge’s order has not been violated. Nor can the judge punish those citizens, though some judges might try. To read more on this topic, enter go here.
There are always ways around tyranny–soft or hard–no matter how well grounded in current law, or how well intentioned.
And speaking of well-intentioned tyranny, there are always consequences when the self-imagined political and intellectual elite impose mandates that fail to take into account human nature. Trying to mandates changes in human nature is equally foolish. Michelle Obama, the First Lady, is a case in point.
I’ve been writing about the damage so-called “nutritious” school lunches mandated by Mrs. Obama have done for some time. Some examples:
Courtesy of Fox News, here’s the latest just in time for the new school year:
Public schools are continuing to serve the federally mandated fruits and vegetables, but a new study claims the fresh produce is going into trash cans more than tummies.
Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has implemented a requirement – widely championed by First Lady Michelle Obama – that children must select either a fruit or vegetable for school lunches subsidized by the federal government. However, a new report published this week by researchers at the University of Vermont found that even though students did add more fruits and vegetables to their plates, as the ‘Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’ enforces, ‘children consumed fewer [fruits and vegetables] and wasted more during the school year immediately following implementation of the USDA rule.’
The report, entitled ‘Impact of the National School Lunch Program on Fruit and Vegetable Selection,’ noted that average waste increased from a quarter cup to more than one-third of a cup per tray. Observing students at two northeastern elementary schools during more than 20 visits to each, researchers took photos of students’ trays after they chose their items, as they were exiting the lunch line and again as they went by the garbage cans.
Goodness! Who could have possibly predicted that children would not eat what they don’t want to eat? Certainly children have always eaten what nosy adults they don’t know demand?
The architects of the Act want their children and schoolchildren across America to eat healthy, hearty meals,’ Joe Colangelo, director of the product testing and consumer advocacy organization Consumers’ Research, told FoxNews.com. ‘Unfortunately, our government does not have a perfect record of influencing the eating habits of American citizens.’
The study’s conclusions jibe with widespread complaints from school officials and parents that the program encourages food waste. It has also drawn criticism for cost, difficulty in implementing and lack of appeal for students.
Oh dear. What to do? What to do?
Parents, not schools, should decide what their children eat, said Dan Gainor, of the Media Research Center
‘Schools can’t tell what eating disorders or personal preferences each student has,’ Gainor remarked. ‘It’s this kind of micro-management of our lives that conservatives always warn about and new media claim won’t happen. Until it does.
As one might imagine, there are many Obamites and statists that support forcing children to eat–at least on paper–meals they consider proper for them. Take the link to explore their comments.
Where school lunch is involved, parents can circumvent the federal government by sending lunch with their children. Unfortunately, for parents that cannot afford this, their children have little choice–eat what’s served or go hungry–yet many still choose not to eat what Mrs. Obama mandates, choosing to go hungry instead.
The mandates of the self-important and self-imagined intellectual elite harming the poor; who could have imagined that?