Released Time for Religious Studies in Public Schools

My child has yet to reach this age, but upon talking with a neighbor, I learned that Berryhill Public Schools, the school that my child will attend this fall, participates in a released time program for religious studies. I do not yet know in what grade released time begins, but I know that my children will not participate, no matter how “Constitutional” released time is.

If you are not familiar with release time, check out the Wiki. According to Wiki: “Released Time is a concept used in the United States public school system wherein pupils enrolled in the public schools are permitted by law to receive religious instruction. The principle is based on the constitutional right of parents to direct the religious education of their children.”

Everything I know so far about Berryhill’s released time program tells me it falls under the Constitutional guidelines in the Wiki. However, the neighbor informed me that kids who do not attend are ostracized. They are seen as outcasts and are bullied, and, according to the neighbor, the administration looks the other way at bullying in general. Scary stuff. The neighbor also says the “religious education” is held at a Baptist church. Always. There is no teaching of Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything other religion. The question for my readers – do you think it’s still Constitutional since only one religion is promoted? Based on the Wiki, it’s hard to say. I do believe it’s ethically wrong.

I also read some reviews of the school online, and one states that having their children in Berryhill is like having them “in a Christian school.” Great. Before we moved here, we asked everyone about the district. All said it was a great school. Now I know why. They do have good test scores, but their ethnic diversity is low, and obviously their religious makeup is mostly Christian.

My hopes for this school are not high. And if you’re wondering why I called the school by name, it is to serve as a way for researching parents in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas to be able to fund this information. I wish I’d known before we moved here.

2 Thoughts on “Released Time for Religious Studies in Public Schools

  1. My children attend Berryhill. The release-time program is optional and not default. It is held directly across the street from the South Elementary.

    I would urge you to speak to the administration, in particular the superintendent, who is very professional.

    I made it known last school year in a polite manner that, as an atheist, I fully expected no religious instruction or “release time”, and no backlash or “ostracizing”. He assured me that such activity was not tolerated.

    The principal at the North Elementary is awesome, too. She and the superintendent worked very diligently with me to be sure that no bullying occurred when other children found out that their friends’ daddy was a “non-believer.” This was after a few instances of such behavior.

    I expect such behavior from children, but you won’t be disappointed in the leadership in Berryhill.
    Good luck to you!

  2. Thanks so much for your input. This is the first positive input from a non-religious person I’ve gotten about Berryhill, so I’m glad to hear the administration is willing to hear our concerns. I heard the opposite, which was a big reason for my concern. Thanks again!

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