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Sunday, December 15, 2013

School "Holidays"?

I'm sure that most of you have heard the phrase "Separation of Church and State."  Unfortunately, it is one of the most mistakenly used phrases when attempting to connect it to the United States Constitution.  Trust me, if you were to ask a 100 people what part of the US Constitution would you find "separation of church and state," nearly 90% would claim that it is in the 1st Amendment.  The truth is, it is NO WHERE in the Constitution, for the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the United States Constitution.  The reason that 90% of Americans believe that is is located in the 1st Amendment (or somewhere else within the body of the Constitution) is do to, in large, a major campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to have "God" removed from all public institutions (both federal and state).  As a matter of fact, it is one of their most repeated phrases since their foundation.  This isn't to say that the ACLU is a bad organization.  As a matter of fact, they have done a lot of good helping citizens protect their rights and have been involved in a number of important landmark Supreme Court cases, yet they are known to be more to the "left" than "center" when it comes to a number of  issues and often are in the center of some extremely controversial topics.

Recently, the ACLU has launched a campaign to have any and ALL recognition of ANY type of religion displayed in public schools.  In part, their argument is that if you element all references to all religions in public school, it would prevent anyone from being offended.  In other words, public schools could not display ANY form of religious icons within their schools.  Furthermore, they would not be permitted to close their schools down for religious references if those closings "...occur in collation to a known religious holiday."  Translation: Public schools could not close around Christmas or Easter (as we currently do) because those days off correspond to a known religious holiday.  In addition, public schools would not be permitted to display any symbols that relate to a given religious holiday...regardless of how they attempt to reword it to make it appear as if they were being unbiased (i.e., no "Holiday Trees" - another name for a "Christmas" tree, no Santa Clauses - St. Nick..., nor any Menorah, Kwanzaa, etc.)  Not to mention that public schools would also be prevented from singing any type of religious songs during "Holiday Concerts" or at any other time during the year.  In all likelihood they probably would object strongly to Dr. Bob's playing of holiday music.  The supporters of the ACLU's proposal do agree that students should be permitted to be absent due to their religious beliefs to celebrate their given holiday and that the absence should not be counted against them, but the school, as a whole, should not be closed or recognize any religion.

Those that are fighting the ACLU argue that the Supreme Court has upheld on a number of occasions that school districts are allowed to recognize whichever religion which is dominate in the majority of their given demographics.  So, if the majority of your community is Jewish, the school's are allowed to close for Jewish holidays (i.e., Paramus school district) or if the majority of your population is Christian, then they can close for Christian holidays.  Furthermore, those that oppose this current move by the ACLU state that they are incorrectly inserting something into the Constitution that isn't there ("separation of church and state) and that if the majority of the parents of a given school district do not have a problem with the school's recognition of any given religious holiday, then there isn't a problem.

THIS WEEK'S BLOG TOPIC: Should public schools stop recognizing any and all religions?  Would doing so finally create a "religious free" environment and improve the overall learning atmosphere of public schools?  Or is this just simply "political correctness" going too far?  Furthermore, is this even a "real issue" that needs to be addressed?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stop and Frisk: A Debate

New York City has a new mayor - something you may have heard about.  His name is Bill de Blasio and one of his key campaign promises was that he was going to put a stop to the practice known as "Stop and Frisk" - a program that the NYPD claims has been responsible for NYC seeing a dramatic drop in violent crime.  Opponents to the program, like the city's new mayor, argue that the program is nothing more than "racial profiling."

As with all great debates, there are excellent points on both sides of the argument.  Click the Huffington Post article below and read a great debate on this topic.  Carefully examine both sides of this debate and then, let's debate this topic here, in our blog.  While you form your opinion or "refine" your point-of-view, if you already had one on this topic, keep in mind the basic principals of the United States Constitution.  Before you think that makes it a much easier debate - THINK AGAIN.  The fact is, the Constitution is an interpretative document; therefore, laws can be passed which help protect the citizenry of a state.  It truly is a difficult topic and I'm sure that many of you will have different viewpoints, so make sure that you are respectful of each other's point-of-views.

Again, let me remind you - it is NOT YOUR JOB in these blogs to critic each others writing - in any form. So, don't waste time informing someone that they didn't support their "thesis" or their argument with enough facts....blah, blah, blah...  Debate each others point-of-views, only.


Blog Topic Question:  After reading the above article and of course, using your own opinions, argue for or against the Stop and Frisk policy.  Is the mayor elect, de Blasio making the right move in doing away with the existing policy?

Happy Blogging!!!

SPECIAL NOTE: This week's blog topic was suggested by one of my APUSH 2 students.  If you have a topic you'd like for us to discuss, drop me an email.  If I like it, I'll post it!!!