Fox 29 television station in San Antonio has covered the research of SMU religious studies expert Mark A. Chancey. A new report by Chancey, “Reading, Writing & Religion II,” found that most of the 60 public school districts in Texas that offer Bible study courses aren’t meeting a 2007 state law mandating that the courses be fair as well as academically and legally sound.
Chancey prepared the report for the Austin-based education watchdog group Texas Freedom Network. His study uncovered bias, factual errors and insufficient curriculum standards in Texas public school Bible courses. An SMU Religious Studies professor, Chancey recommends the Texas State Board of Education develop Bible course curriculum standards and the Texas Education Agency be allowed funds for a teacher training program.
“As a biblical scholar and especially as a parent, I want our state’s public schools to take the study of the Bible’s influence as seriously as they do the study of science or history,” Chancey told The Dallas Morning News. “Academically, many of these classes lack rigor and substance, and some seem less interested in cultivating religious literacy than in promoting religious beliefs. Their approach puts their school districts in legal jeopardy and their taxpayers in financial jeopardy.”
Chancey, a professor in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has devoted considerable attention to the constitutional, political and academic issues raised by religion courses in public schools.
A study says 60 public school districts across Texas now offer courses on the Bible.
But at least a third aren’t meeting state requirements to be unbiased and academically and legally sound.
Written by Southern Methodist University Professor Mark Chancey, the study found that many districts’ courses favor conservative Protestant interpretations of the Bible.
Many also present “problematic treatment of Judaism” and promote “pseudo-scholarship” on science and U.S. history.
Chancey presented the study Wednesday.
He completed it for the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors the State Board of Education from a progressive perspective.
Statewide, 57 districts and three charter schools offered elective courses on the Bible during the 2011-2012 school year.
Chancey listed 11 of them as having the most-successful classes, but concluded that 20 were the “most problematic courses.”
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