It appears to be a safe bet that Shelby County Schools in Memphis won’t be assigning Robert Lee Scott, Jr.’s autobiography “God Is My Co-Pilot” any time soon. It’s not that the school district is anti-God or anti-religion. It’s that their teachers, not atypically, are oblivious to district policy.
One of them, whose name has been conveniently omitted from all news coverage, told a 10-year-old in her class at Lucy Elementary School that God was not a suitable choice for an assignment in which the fifth-graders were asked to write about their idol.
The child, Erin Shead, was crestfallen when the teacher returned her assignment to her and told her to pick another idol. Her mother, Erica, was furious. “It was so cute and innocent,” the mother told reporters with CBS affiliate WREG. “She talked about how God created the earth and how she’s doing the best she can.” She added:
How can you tell this baby, that’s a Christian, what she can say and what she can’t say? Can you show me this in a policy where this child cannot talk about God on paper?
A school spokesman with the wonderfully ironic name of Christian Ross responded that teachers can’t promote religion, but added that there is no policy preventing students from writing about God or religion. Ross added that the teacher was in the wrong.
The county has since released a statement as well, reading:
Shelby County Schools respects the moral and religious beliefs of all students and families. While teachers and staff are not permitted to promote religion in the classroom, no laws or district policies allow teachers to limit students’ expression of religious beliefs in their personal classwork. This was a regrettable misunderstanding, and we as educators must learn from it. The principal and teacher have had a positive and productive conversation with the family, and we are pleased this matter is being addressed at the school level. The district will not be discussing this matter further in the media.
Shead is still waiting to hear from the principal of Erin’s school. “I told the principal this morning, would it be better if she wrote about Ellen Degeneres? Of course there was no comment.”
In case you’re wondering who Erin chose as her runner-up for the person she most idolized, it was Michael Jackson, which the teacher found acceptable.
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