schools must allow prayer to get government money
this looks horrible for atheist and
1st amendment lovers. looks like the
feds are paying schools money if they
allow PRAYER in their schools
With money on line, schools say 'prayer'
May. 13, 2003 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - Threatened with the loss of
federal money, the vast majority of the
nation's schools have declared that they
allow prayer wherever and however the
U.S. Constitution permits.
For the first time, U.S. law requires
school districts to prove that they
have no policy that stifles court-protected
prayer by students or teachers. Those
that don't comply risk losing a share
of elementary and secondary money
totaling $23 billion.
As of late Friday, 42 states had certified
that all of their schools follow the law.
Five states - Arizona, California, Ohio,
Illinois and New York - combined showed
150 to 200 school districts out of
compliance. All those states expect
the number to be zero soon.
Arizona state officials reported Monday
that 48 of the state's 400 districts and
charter schools have not yet turned in a
form certifying that they are complying
with federal school-prayer mandates. The
state originally required that all schools
send in the form by April 15.
"It's simply a bureaucratic thing,"
schools chief Tom Horne said. "They're
not defying a federal mandate. It's just
a matter of getting the paperwork taken care of."
Federal officials have extended the
deadline to Thursday, Horne said.
Indiana, Nevada and New Hampshire haven't
reported but assure U.S. officials they
expect to send clean reports soon.
District of Columbia officials have
Initial responses by the April 15 deadline
showed some states had dozens of schools
out of compliance; other states failed
to reply at all. Leaders in those states
say paperwork problems, not trouble
over prayer policies, accounted for
Most of the more than 15,000 school
districts have since certified that
they follow the law, and federal
officials seem content the states
have shown good faith.
"We're not at the point where we're
talking about taking funding away from
schools or states," the Education
Department's Susan Aspey said. "The
goal all along has been to make sure
local school districts do not have
any policies in place that sanction
religion, or policies that prohibit
voluntary religious expression by
Prayer is permitted provided it
happens outside class instruction
and is not initiated by school
officials, guidelines say. Students
may pray at recess, and teachers may
hold their own Bible study at lunch,
but teachers may not lead students
Staff members contributed to this article.