"People tend to carry around two failed models in their head," [Senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, Charles] Haynes said. "Either we keep religion entirely out of public schools or we keep on doing what we used to do in the good old days and promote religion in school."
Because of those failed models, schools end up making poor decisions when it comes to religion.
Schools, however, can try to prevent any church-state issues by offering a clear set of guidelines beforehand to students and parents:
Hayes, in conclusion, offers a general principle schools should follow ... well, he just regurgitates common First Amendment wisdom, but very important nonetheless:
The most important thing that schools can do is to draft rules that address religious expression before there is a conflict, Haynes says.If the rules are spelled out ahead of time, religious parents will know that their faith is respected. And nonreligious parents will know that their children's religious liberty is being safeguarded.
"Whatever a school does with parents or other religious groups — they have to make sure that it is not establishing or denigrating religion. To protect all students, they have to stay neutral in matters of faith."But like many things in life, this is easier said than done. Striking that balance is, needless to say, pretty tough, seen especially in the ways we react to these cases.