Teacher accused of not allowing student to read Bible during reading time


I saw in the news today two reports of incidents of students being told by their teachers not to bring a Bible for free reading time:

A story in Houston, TX, from a local news affiliate:

A story in Broward County, FL - note that the news sources are WND and Yeshiva daily:


I don’t think this is a disturbing new trend, but rather an example of poorly-informed teachers, who are low in proportion but high enough in number that they make the news. The teachers I know consider their students with fairness and treat them with a sense of independence and self-determination appropriate to their age.


From the Houston article:

The district’s statement which read in part, “During a student’s independent reading time, students are required to read a book that is “Just Right.” A “Just Right” book is when the student can read most of the words, comprehend the text and that the book is appropriate for the type of text or genre that is being taught. As such religious material, including the Bible, that meets these guidelines would be permissible for a classroom assignment and/or independent reading.”

I am a fifth grade teacher, and this reflects the standard approach to reading these days, called “Balanced Literacy”, which is a mix of reading instruction through interactive read-aloud, guided reading, and independent reading, using books that are leveled based on text and content complexity.

There is also, however, a component of independent reading where students may read books not on their level. We call it a “desk book”, but whatever the designation, a limited amount of time is sometimes available for this. At that time, religious reading ought not be prohibited, as to do so is a direct government infringement on the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. A child does not have the power to violate the establishment clause, and frankly, neither does a teacher.



This is misleading. The students were given an assignment to read a book on their reading level. The Bible didn’t meet the assignment’s requirement. The Bible wasn’t banned in any sense.


How do you know this? The allegation included, “and is not even allowed to bring the Bible to school.” As this has not been proven true or false, it leaves open the possibility that the Bible was, in fact, banned.


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