Our local school district was sued recently over elementary school students passing out candy canes with religious messages. They were stopped by the school district, and their parents sued over freedom of speech. The school changed it’s policy so that students could pass them out in between classes.
I have a few thoughts on this (no, really…).
First, if you want to pass out candy canes with religious messages, more power to you. Just don’t do it on the teacher’s time. Not in class, only in between classes. Also, don’t push it. I’ve noticed that Christians who start to pass out these things get pretty pushy about it. Especially kids, who demand conformity. It can reach the point that any child who doesn’t want their candy cane or their message will soon be harassed or intimidated by the rest of the kids. If you think this can’t happen you haven’t been to the same schools I’ve been to.
The real problem here is one of control. Since public schools are controlled by elected officials, whoever gets elected gets to dictate what happens or what is taught in the schools (witness the recent issues about Intelligent Design vs. real science). This means that if you can win a majority on the school board, you can decide what happens. Now the question will arise (especially if you are not the winners of the election) about what happens to the losers of the election. The same thing that happens in any elections. The losers have to suck it up and take whatever they’re given.
So, now your children are going to a school where you disagree with the fundamental principles of the school board. What do you do? Take control yourself and impose your views on the school board, of course! This can turn into a vicious cycle of election, re-election, lawsuits, etc.
The real solution is to get the government out of the schools. When you do this, there is no longer and incentive to take control of the school. Instead, if you disagree with a schools founding principles, you just go find another school that meets your needs. Since all schools will be private, there are no issues of freedom of speech or religion, since the government isn’t involved. Also, if you don’t like the schools in your area, you can just start your own school.
There are, I’m sure, a lot of questions about private only schools. How can everyone afford school if they are all private? First think about the property taxes you’ll no longer need to pay. How much of your property taxes go to funding schools? Take that money and you can afford a private school. Second, consider the money that will be available in the form of scholarships and grants. That money is available now, but if tax money is freed up, consider how much more would be available.