Law & Courts

Texas Bible-Study Classes Districts’ Option, AG Says

By Michele McNeil — September 08, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Texas law requires schools to teach about religious literature, but must districts actually offer a Bible 101 class?

No, said state Attorney General Greg Abbott in a recent opinion on whether the 2007 law mandates a separate elective course in religious literature (including the Bible), or whether districts can include the subject within existing classes.

The law requires the teaching of “religious literature, including the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and New Testament, and its impact on history and literature.”

Rules effective Sept. 1 set standards for Bible-study courses that could be offered without violating First Amendment strictures. But districts were waiting for guidance on whether separate classes were optional.

“Now schools won’t be required to maneuver through a legal minefield without a map,” Kathy Miller, the president of the Texas Freedom Network, said in a statement. The group argues against what it considers religious interference in the public sector.

While Mr. Abbott ruled last month that Texas districts don’t have to offer separate classes, he also stated, “Such discretion does not ... mean that school districts or charter schools are not required to comply with the curriculum requirements.”

Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said it’s unclear how many districts will choose to offer a separate, elective course.

Groups in favor of including religion in public school instruction, including one organization that pushed for the 2007 law, welcomed the attorney general’s opinion.

“For too long Texas school districts have been threatened and oppressed by enemies of academic freedom, for simply daring to offer instruction on the Bible,” Jonathan Saenz, the director of legislative affairs for the Plano, Texas-based Free Market Foundation, said in a news release.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 10, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Two Appeals Courts Won’t Block Injunctions Against Biden's Title IX Rule
As the Aug. 1 date approaches for the broad new regulation to take effect, courts have blocked it in much of the country.
4 min read
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan.
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Two federal appeals courts have denied requests by the Biden administration to put aside injunctions blocking a new Title IX regulation that includes protections for transgender students.
John Hanna/AP
Law & Courts Letter to the Editor Religion in the Classroom May Be Legal, But Is It Just?
A teacher responds to Louisiana's Ten Commandments law.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Law & Courts Posting Ten Commandments in Schools Was Struck Down in 1980. Could That Change?
In 1980, the justices invalidated a Kentucky law, similar to the new Louisiana measure, requiring classroom displays of the Decalogue.
13 min read
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signs bills related to his education plan on June 19, 2024, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, La. Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, the latest move from a GOP-dominated Legislature pushing a conservative agenda under a new governor.
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican, signs bills related to his education plan on June 19, 2024, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, La. One of those new laws requires that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, but the law is similar to one from Kentucky that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 1980.
Brad Bowie/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP
Law & Courts Biden's Title IX Rule Is Now Blocked in 14 States
A judge in Kansas issued the third injunction against the Biden administration's rule granting protections to LGBTQ+ students.
4 min read
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, July 2, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Kansas and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, July 2, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Kansas, and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
John Hanna/AP