Prayer service held at public school for success on tests
By Nancy Bartley
Principal is being backed by her union against attack by ACLU
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) A Baltimore elementary school principal used prayer services to prepare pupils for recent statewide tests .
For two years, prayer services have been held at
Asked about the event, city school officials said they would investigate. In a prepared statement, the school system said, "While we as a district understand that prayer plays an important role for many in our school communities . . . it is not appropriate for public institutions of education to promote any particular religious practice."
An attorney for the
"It's not even a close call,"
Gittings added, "The only individuals I hold accountable for these injustices for Ms. Yon are the narrow-minded politicians from some 50 years ago, for removing prayer from our schools. Once prayer was removed from our schools, the respect for our teachers and administrators has been increasingly out of control."
Dating back to the 1960s, the
The 30-minute, voluntary prayer service this month at Tench Tilghman came after Saturday classes the school prepare for the Maryland School Assessments. The flier, which included images of praying hands and cited common
Yon was asked by parents at the school to hold the Saturday classes, as well as the prayer service, according to Gittings. He said Yon "was doing what she thought was right."
Yon, who is in her second year at the school, declined to comment. Gittings said he was speaking on her behalf.
Gittings, a proponent of prayer in schools, said he fully supported Yon's actions. He said he was aware that it wasn't constitutional, but he still believed in the message.
The school system declined to comment on whether Yon received any disciplinary action, citing its policy of declining to address personnel matters.
After seeing the flier, Rocah said the event violated constitutional provisions that prohibit organized prayer in public school settings and the promotion of an individual religion. He said some phrases were clear indicators of Christian beliefs: "He will do it again" and "All things are possible."
"The implication is: believe in G0d, and you'll succeed," Rocah added. "I'm sure there are plenty of people who believe that, but I would hope that teachers and administration would be focused on teaching the students the necessary material. There's no substitute for that."
According to some Tench Tilghman parents, Yon did not lead the communal prayer service, but prayed with the group. They defended the event, saying a gathering of parents and school administrators who care about students is the only tool they have to instill confidence in students.
Shepperson said she, her son, grandson and nephew joined about 25 other students and 30 parents in praying for health and peace of mind on the standardized tests. She said the group prayed for "our children for testing, the families, and to make sure that everyone stayed healthy and kept their minds focused."
She added, "We really want to embrace our kids, and let them know that we need to pray together and stay together to make them successful. If this is what makes our children serene and peaceful, and in a healthy environment, then so be it."
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