SPRINGBORO – Following complaints from a national atheist organization and various community members, a school district in southwestern Ohio announced it will be pulling two controversial community education courses that outline America’s Christian heritage.
From July 9th through September 24th, faculty at Springboro Community Schools had planned to facilitate two courses on the U.S. Constitution. One of the programs was a 12-week class from the Institute on the Constitution (IC), while the other was a one-day seminar from the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS).
Both the IC and NCCS are organizations that promote the view that the U.S. was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and that the founding fathers were strongly influenced by religious convictions. IC’s website states, “There is a God, the God of the Bible. Our rights come from Him. The purpose of civil government is to secure these God-given rights.”
“Our desire,” IC’s mission statement reads, “is to help individuals across America understand and appreciate their own history and heritage by reacquainting them with the worldview and vision of our Founding Fathers. We believe that by understanding the way in which the framers of our Constitutional Republic viewed their relationship to God, to other sovereign states, to their families and to each other, we can gain valuable and practical insight into the foundational principles of America.”
However, when the atheistic Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) learned of Springboro’s planned curriculum, it quickly objected. Late last month, a FFRF attorney mailed a letter to the school district, arguing that the summer classes were blatantly unconstitutional and factually inaccurate.
“The district must not align itself with organizations that are overtly religious and should not sponsor programs that provide historically inaccurate and misleading information,” the letter states. “To do so is irresponsible. The board should reject such presentations, which distort and dishonor our entirely secular and godless Constitution.”
Soon after the FFRF sent the school district the aforementioned letter, several alumni of the Springboro schools together wrote and mailed a note to school officials, imploring them to put an end to the summer classes. The letter writers stated that they were “incredibly concerned” by the school district’s actions, and suggested that the community’s reputation was at stake.
“We have moved from national to international recognition,” the letter claimed. “Our renown has skyrocketed … While you may not find this recent celebrity embarrassing, we do, as much of the community does. Springboro is no longer a national paragon. We are an international laughingstock. Your decisions eclipse the things for which Springboro, only a few short years ago, was revered and proud. The board has moved beyond betraying our teachers, forgetting our children, and disrespecting our parents. You have offended and, worse, implicated the entire community.”
In a recent statement, school administrators announced that they have officially pulled the controversial Constitution classes from the curriculum schedule. Jim Rigano, vice president of the Springboro Board of Education, said he had hoped the courses would provide “an opportunity for schools and community to work together,” but conceded that “the courses have received some criticism from the community, which we take very seriously.”
As previously reported, the Springboro schools have generated criticism in the past by attempting to offer students more balanced perspectives on various hotly-debated topics. Earlier this year, Rigano explained how presenting both sides of various issues helps students develop critical thinking skills which are vital for later life experiences.
“We don’t want to be indoctrinating students to any particular point of view, we want to make sure all things are taught in a fair and balanced way,” he told WKEF-TV. “We want them to be able to think through [the controversial issues] and ultimately be able to make a good argument.”