The Roanoke Times reports that the dad of a second-grade girl at Narrows Elementary School in Narrows, VA, wants the school district to display various American government documents, historical texts, and symbols, including the Ten Commandments.
The proposed display would include the Mayflower Compact, Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, sheet music of "The Star-Spangled Banner," a picture of Lady Justice, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and (drum roll please) the Ten Commandments.
As can be expected the ACLU of Virginia is not happy. ACLU attorney Rebecca Glenberg remarked to the Times.
"I see here a bunch of documents related to U.S. history and one religious document."
The ACLU of Virginia and the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened the lawsuit that has kept the commandments off school walls since February, the Times reports.
I have an idea. Forget posting the Ten Commandments on a display that no student will even look at, much less, read. Instead of treating it like some kind of patriotic wallpaper in one school in the corner of the state, make sure teachers in the ENTIRE state of Virginia teach about the Ten Commandments AS EXPECTED in the state’s academic standards.
The 2008 Virginia academic standards for World History expect students to:
“demonstrate knowledge of ancient river valley civilizations, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River Valley, and China and the civilizations of the Hebrews, Phoenicians, and Nubians, by… [among other things] explaining the development of religious traditions, [and] describing the origins, beliefs, traditions, customs, and spread of Judaism.
That would pretty much cover the Ten Commandments (and a whole lot more).
In addition to this, the Virginia Department of Education lists as “Essential Knowledge” that students are expected to know “the essential beliefs of Judaism” (WHI.3d.Q1) and how Judaism influenced Western civilization (WHI.3d.Q2). Additionally, students are to learn about “beliefs, traditions, and customs of Judaism” (WHI.3d.B) as well as the “Ten Commandments, which state moral and religious conduct.” (WHI.3d.B.3)
Symbolism can be wonderful. But, given the choice between symbolism and substance, I’ll take substance any day.
(This blog first appeared on Breakpoint Blog