School board decides to postpone Bible class decision

— The Moffat County School board decided to hold off approving a Bible literature and history course until a review period scheduled for the 2010-11 school year.

Pete Bergmann, MCHS superintendent, recommended the action to the group at the School Board's monthly meeting Thursday night, calling them to "commit to consider" the course and similar curricular additions.

Father Randy Dolins, St. Michael Catholic Church priest, saw the decision as a fair compromise between the school district and concerned Craig citizens who petitioned for the course.

"The proposal that was approved satisfied the needs of both parties," Dolins said.

The elective course, entitled "The Bible in History and Literature," was created by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools.

Bergmann stressed that the suggested action wasn't solely a "value judgment."

"We've been pushed with how does this (course) fit in the curriculum," he said, adding that the district undergoes a curriculum review process every seven years.

The district's social studies curriculum review is scheduled for the 2010-11 school year. If accepted, the curriculum would be put into effect during the 2011-12 school year.

Research into the proposed curriculum or other biblically based history and literature classes could start before that date, Bergmann said.

Jane Harmon, Moffat County High School principal, also suggested postponing the curriculum's acceptance or rejection after receiving feedback on the elective from the high school's faculty council.

"Although the faculty council members are not necessarily opposed to a course of biblical history, it is recommended that this decision should be made as a part of the regular curriculum and course review by a team of professional educators who comprise the social studies department," Harmon wrote in a report to the School Board.

School Board member JoAnn Baxter said the board's decision was an acceptable compromise between the district and the citizens in favor of the course.

But the key word, she added, was compromise.

"I think that the people who support the curriculum that has been presented to us will have to think in terms of what can be done with that curriculum in a different fashion that would make it more appealing to a larger number of people," Baxter said. "To implement that one curriculum would be something that I would find very difficult to support."

While Thursday provided concerned community members a decision from the School Board, it also marked the one-year anniversary of the elective's proposal.

Craig resident Deborah Powell brought the course to the School Board a year ago Thursday, she said.

In October 2006, she began circulating a petition for the course.

To date, that petition bears the names of more than 1,100 residents who support the course, said Jason Haskell, New Creation Church pastor, at the meeting.

The course was an important addition to the district's curriculum because "our history is based on the Bible," she said, adding that the elective passed constitutionality tests in court.

Bergmann sought feedback from local Christian leaders in a meeting with the Craig Chaplain Association on Tuesday.

The association is a group of local Christian religious leaders that meets monthly to "share concerns and encourage each other," said Len Browning, First Baptist Church pastor and group member.

The association supports the curriculum, Browning said, because "it's a curriculum that focuses on the bible as literature and as part of American history, especially the : section of our founding history and the influence of the Bible and Christianity on our founders.

"I think that as a part of our history, (the Bible) was very much a part of most of the founders' lives and perspective."

Still, he said, the curriculum needs another look from both the school district and the association before it can be implemented.

"Nobody has really gone over this curriculum with a fine-tooth comb," Browning said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

Comments

GregWinslow 6 years, 1 month ago

This was a very wise move on the part of the Superintendent, because the curriculum being proposed is very risky. The Wikipedia entry linked below lays out all the legal problems with the course, including the fact that a case is going on right now in which eight parents and the ACLU sued Ector County, Texas' school board for adopting it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National... I hope the school board will look into the other Bible curricula for public schools that are available, such as the one from the Bible Literacy Project. There is no need to use questionable products when there are academically sound and First-Amendment-safe courses available that will benefit our students.

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