Board rejects comparative religion class
by Diana Mota Morgan
Nov. 24, 2004
Several Frederick County school board members earlier this month voted to oppose offering a comparative religion course for fear that students would be exposed to witchcraft and Satanism.
"I don't think that's the kind of course we want to provide," said board member Daryl A. Boffman. "I don't think we should introduce those elements to students. It may encourage them to look into it further. I don't want the school system to be the spark."
Board members voted 4-2-1 at their Nov. 10 planning session to oppose the measure. Boffman, Bonnie M. Borsa, Linda S. Naylor and Jean A. Smith opposed the measure; Michael E. Schaden and Kathryn B. Groth supported it; Donna J. Crook abstained.
"I was kind of surprised and disappointed," said Schaden, who proposed offering the course. "Board members were more concerned about what might be taught rather than the benefits of the class."
Schaden said he hoped the course would promote diversity and tolerance.
Boffman said he attended the meeting with an open mind."Most of us were interested in taking a look at it, myself included," he said, adding his comfort level dropped after reviewing textbooks that referenced witchcraft, Satanism and animal sacrifices. "The value of the course didn't outweigh the detriment it would have on the school system," Boffman said.
Smith said she felt the school system already teaches students about diversity in other programs and classes, including history and social studies. She opposed the class for two reasons, she said.
"There was nobody saying we want this class," Smith said. "Usually when a class is generated, a teacher wants it or a school wants it or there are kids who want it. We don't have any idea if there was interest."
Smith said she did not want to use school system resources to develop a curriculum if no one wanted the class.
And after hearing the topics that the course could cover, Smith said she felt the class would be more appropriate at the college level. "Who's going to draw the line [regarding content]?" Smith asked.
According to Michael Bunitsky, social studies curriculum specialist, the school board draws the line when it comes to curriculum. Ultimately, the board decides whether to approve curriculum, he said.
Borsa said she opposed the class because it is not the board's place to create curriculum."I don't think it's the role of the board to dictate courses and curriculum," Borsa said. "It should come from the school, the teachers and the students."
Crook said she abstained, because the board's discussion raised more questions than answers.
"The discussion was in theory," she said. "It was all about 'what if.' The more discussion we had the more questions we had about what the course would be, who would teach the course, what religions would be taught. I didn't necessarily think it was a bad thing. But it wasn't all worked out."
OK..here's my question...what do ya'll think about this. I've read a bunch of ideas on the witchvox site where I got this, and I agree with both sides. What do *YOU* think.