At a time when North Carolina's public schools are struggling with serious concerns, such as the achievement gap, early childhood education, high school graduation rates, and non-competitive teacher salaries, some people want to debate issues that would provide no perceptible value to the quality of our schools. One such example is a bill being proposed by Senator Stan Bingham that would allow our schools to offer Bible study as an elective.
Senator Bingham feels that Bible classes would not infringe on the separation between church and state. He believes that they would simply offer students an opportunity to study the Bible as a stand-alone subject. Obviously, many will disagree. Some will argue that this is simply the first step by people who want to see religion back in our schools . Others will say that such classes could make certain students, and possibly teachers, uncomfortable, and potentially cause a rift between those with different religious beliefs. I do not doubt that such concerns have merit; however, what worries me more is that people like Senator Bingham have nothing better to do with the taxpayers' time and money than to come up with ideas that will serve no useful purpose. I find it ludicrous that our legislators would debate this issue at a time when North Carolina's students cannot even make it to the top half of our 50 states in academic performance.
Our state certainly does not have a shortage of churches, and 53% of its citizens attend religious services on a consistent basis. I would argue, therefore, that any teenager who is truly interested in studying the Bible, old or new testament, probably does not need to walk very far from home to find a church that offers Bible study on any given Sunday morning. All they need is some motivation.
We have many pressing education issues in North Carolina that desperately beg discussion and debate; there is no need to fabricate problems. Let's focus on the ones that will help make our students successful in an ever evolving and competitive global economy.