On June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court decided that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment because it represented the establishment of religion. In a similar decision the next year, mandated reading of Bible passages was also found unconstitutional.
In 2014 Dr. William Jeynes, Professor of Education at California State University, Long Beach with graduate degrees from Harvard and the University of Chicago, said there is a correlation between the decline of public schools and those Supreme Court decisions.
Since 1963, Jeynes said there had been five negative developments in the nation’s public schools:
- Academic achievement plummeted, including SAT scores
- Out-of-wedlock births increased.
- Use of illegal drugs increased.
- Juvenile crime increased.
- And according to Jeynes, school behavior deteriorated.
In recent years, some states have passed a law or resolution to bring the Bible back into schools as literature and several have either approved or appear likely to approve Bible classes as elective subjects.
For some parents who aren't satisfied with the absence of morning devotionals, daily prayers, etc. in the public schools, the answer is religious schools.
Since the 2014-15 school year, enrollment in traditional public schools has dropped statewide by over 27,000 students. In that same time period, enrollment grew by over 40,000 students in charter schools, over 35,000 in homeschools and over 5,000 students in private schools.
Private school enrollment in 2017-2018 was 30.9% in independent schools and 69.1% in religious schools.
In 1925, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that cemented the country’s thinking on school choice: Families, the justices concluded in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, had the right to decide where to send their children to school and thus could choose private education. Catholic schools, which were the target of the lawsuit, rejoiced.
Today, the number of students who attend Catholic schools (roughly 1.8 million children) is fewer than half of what it was half a century ago.
Evangelical Christian schools have flourished at times over the past half century, then seen periods of decline. The increase in charter schools is certainly one factor and the rise of online education and homeschooling are others.
Denver Christian Academy opened in 2015 in the former Denver location of Lincoln Charter School. We talked last week with principal Kim Palmer & lead teacher Cynthia Matson (video at right).
Denver Christian Academy will begin classes for the 2019-2020 school year this Wednesday (Aug. 14th).
This is the second of our articles in the series EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY. We welcome comments from readers on the articles and on education. Email us your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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