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New study calls Florida's 'Bible History' courses unconstitutional

Washington - The 14 Florida school districts that have been teaching high school courses in "Bible History" since 1997 have failed to do so in a sufficiently objective and neutral fashion, charges People for the American Way Foundation, a Washington-based group that monitors church-state relations. According to a study released by PFAWF, the Bible is used in these classrooms as a factual textbook and Christian faith and values are being promoted. "There is a right way - a constitutional way - to teach about the Bible in public schools and there is a wrong way," says PFAWF President Ralph Nea. "Unfortunately, 14 Florida school districts are doing it the wrong way." According to a 1963 Supreme Court decision, the Bible can be taught in public schools only if it is presented "objectively as part of a secular program of education."

Marjorie Coeyman

US schools get a 'C' for performance

The states deserve an underachiever's 'C' for failing to deliver on promises to put better teachers in US classrooms, according to Education Week's new survey of efforts to improve public schools. Noting that 2 million teachers must be hired in the next decade, the report said states are not doing enough to get the best educators for the nation's children. Each state was graded on improvement in teacher quality; standards and accountability, such as whether students are tested for basic achievement in core subjects; school climate, such as class size, absenteeism and school choice; and resources, chiefly state spending.

In the survey, Connecticut stood out as a success story. With education a major focus since the mid-1980s, Connecticut's schools pay teachers the highest average salary in the nation: $51,727 in 1998. Prospective teachers must pass rigorous certification exams and tests in their subjects. On the other hand, Texas - whose governor, George W. Bush, has made education a major issue in his presidential campaign - received a D in the area of improving teacher quality (see related story, page 13).

Compiled from news wires by Liz Marlantes

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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