Florida Board Cancels Plans for Religious Instruction in Schools

In an unprecedented reversal after widespread Jewish communal opposition the Dade County School Board cancelled plans to introduce a county-wide religious instruction program in the public school system, the Jewish Floridian reports.

The plan had been sponsored by the state superintendent of school, Thomas T. Bailey, who launched a personal campaign last year to inculcate public school students “with spiritual and moral values as derived from religion.” Asserting then that the public school curriculum was “Godless,” Supt. Bailey proposed a comprehensive program to have teachers give students instruction in religion.

The Dade County board in November approved adoption of the Bailey plan to start immediately on a “test basis” in 26 schools throughout the county: A joint advisory committee on religion in the schools, with Rabbi Joseph Narot, of Temple Israel as chairman, mobilized opposition to the plan. Member organizations included rabbinical, secular and women’s Jewish groups. The Floridian reports that, despite the reversal, parts of the plan will be introduced into 15 schools throughout Florida on a “test” basis.

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