Am I REQUIRED to teach the standards?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by SingBlueSilver, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Oct 21, 2013

    This may be a silly question, but it was under my assumption that I must teach the standards-based curriculum of my state...However, I have a student whose parent is very insistent that their child NOT be taught a standard because it is against their religion. I respectfully took that parent's concern and have adjusted the assignment in question multiple times to where the information now required is very expository and generalized and research-based (where they get to choose their own sources). I've also sought advice from my principal who sought advice from the district and my union rep. My union rep says it's ed code that I teach the standards, which I can't seem to find online. (Help with that?) My principal wants to keep trying all kinds of alternatives, and my district wants to do the same. But like I said, after so many alternatives beginning with analysis to knowledge-based activities, I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle with the parent who refuses to have their child learn about this topic (which BTW is not science related or related to reproduction, if thats what you're wondering about). So, am I required as a fully credentialed teacher to teach the standards? Or are standards simply guidelines? When I first received my credential X-number of years ago, It was my understanding that I must teach the standards to uphold it. Any insight is appreciated.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Without knowing your state... yes, you almost certainly are required to teach (and held accountable for teaching) the standards.

    My gut feeling when it comes to any religious complaints is, "suck up and deal," though obviously I've trained myself to keep that feeling to myself, and away from parents. Seriously though... you can't forgo teaching something because of a religious complaint. In my district, parents have to opt out of things on religious reasons in writing (and essentially acknowledge that missing those lessons will negatively impact student results on state exams), and those students basically go to the library and wait for you to finish teaching. While it sucks for the kid to not be taught what they need to be taught, you have a classful of kids that shouldn't be punished for one person's beliefs.
     
  4. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I would suggest asking for the request in writing and then on the day if/when you're going to teach that one particular lesson, make arrangements for the student to go into another class or the library.

    I don't subscribe to the "suck up and deal" philosophy. I believe cultural and/or religious beliefs should be respected.

    That being said, as Gr3Teacher pointed out...the parent should understand that any knowledge NOT gained on that given day will STILL be on the test.
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I agree. That child should go to the library with an alternate assignment.

    Do the parents also expect you to allow the student to skip questions related to that standard on the standardized tests? If so, how would the parent expect you to decide which questions should not be answered when you can't read the test?!
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    My opinion on the "suck it up and deal" would depend on the age of the student. For instance, I would NOT be going through all the effort you've gone through for one of my students. I would have just sent the kid to the library that day and I really would have been quite internally ****** over it. I run into students who have cultural, religious or personal opinions about material all the time, but I've never had students who weren't willing and able to discuss it (high school).

    Even elementary school, where I'd be less internally judgmental, I'd still just take the kid out of class that day. Why should other students suffer because of this kid's parents?
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    An aquaintance of mine strongly disagreed with some of the standards her daughter was being taught in school. She kept her daughter home for a week and that took care of the issue. Of course the daughter bombed the test, but they were willing to accept that.
     
  8. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Oct 21, 2013

    For clarification, the issue is regarding an assignment that I've modified multiple times. My principal offered for the student to opt out and go to the library for the remainder of the unit, but because we are no longer talking about THAT SPECIFIC standard in class, the parent is ok with their child remaining in class. We (my principal and I) are on our 4th alternative/modification. My LAST offer is to take a zero for the assignment/standard and the student can make up the grade with extra credit which is offered to all students for every unit.
     
  9. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    By modifying the standard so many times, did the other students still get a complete understanding that standard? If the actual standard was asked word-for-word on the final test, would the students be able to answer it? If not, I'd go with your "last offer" so the others get what THEY need.

    Good for you for going through all of this. I'm getting frustrated just imaging someone causing a fuss over a history standard.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that any decision about modifying the standards, either for one student or for the whole class, should be made by admin.
     
  11. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Again, for clarification. I haven't modified the standard. I've modified the assignment that addresses the standard. With each modification, the standard is addressed, but in such a way as to try to respect the family's beliefs.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I guess I'm confused then. If the standard is still being addressed, why does it matter what the specific assignment is?
     
  13. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    In a perfect world, they would have to prove from a theological standpoint exactly how their child sitting in a classroom while you are teaching a lesson violates their religion.

    I really can't think of a true scenario where it would.
     
  14. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    The parent says that the standard is against their religion, and by their child addressing that standard in the assignment, they are going against their religion. (Again, that is what the parent believes/feels.) My principal has already explained that if the issue is the standard, then that is really an issue with the state board of ed., but in the mean time there is this conflict where I need to respect the family's beliefs at the same time making sure that the student undertands the info related to the standard through this assignment.
     
  15. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I'm wondering if you gave us the standard, if people couldn't help brainstorm other ways the student could get the standard, while still respecting the family's wishes.

    Not sure this has to be an either/or situation. Compromises or allowances could be made. I'm not sure what type of family community you have at your school, but if you showed that you're willing to respect their beliefs (which it sounds like you are), then maybe they'd be willing to give a little, sit down with you, and perhaps a mutually agreed upon assignment could be created? Heck, maybe they would be willing to accept a certain tweak of the current assignment.

    I think in this instance, communication might play a good role here. :)
     
  16. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    The thing is, this is the 4th mod. to the assignment. The principal has sat down with the parent in a meeting last week. And this issue has now been on-going for nearly about 2 weeks. This is the actual standard verbatim from the dept. of ed. "Explain the significance of the Qur'an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law, and their influence in Muslims' daily life."
     
  17. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    After seeing the standard... I'll be nice to the family and just say that assuming the "religious issue" is what I suspect it is, I would be far less patient than you have been so far.
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I don't understand how anyone's religious beliefs could interfere with the teaching of that standard. It is one thing to say "I don't want my child to learn about other religions" and another to say "this violates my religious rights."

    Don't want your child to learn things about the world? Homeschool them.
     
  19. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    As a Christian, I could honestly say that I'd have no problem with my son or daughter doing an assignment that has to do with that standard...provided there is also such a standard for the Christian faith (which I would imagine there is... if it's one of many social studies standards).

    To put it into perspective...last year I had a Muslim family who wished for their son NOT to take part in any education that had to do with any faith other than their own. I respected that. My faith is important to me, so I try to honor other faiths as well. Well, as it turned out, they really didn't have much problem with their son learning about other faiths, once I pointed out that just because we are EDUCATED about another culture's faith doesn't necessarily mean that we're indoctrinating. I even invited the family to come and speak about Eid...which the mother gladly accepted... and then had no problem about her son learning about Christmas.

    I could teach how song and oral tradition was a huge part of the African slave culture in the south and that doesn't mean that I'm teaching their children how to be slaves.

    Now, if the standard read: "Read the Q'uran and state some examples on how it reached you at an emotional and spiritual level"...then I'd have a problem with that. ;) I would think that's better left to the church.

    :2cents:
     
  20. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Personally, I think you are a wonderful teacher for respecting the wishes of the family. Ultimately, your willingness to be respectful may help you in your future dealings with this family.

    Out of curiosity, do you have the same standards for other faiths and cultures (Judaism, Christianity for example), or is it strictly for this one religion?

    I hope that they appreciate all of your efforts.
     
  21. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Unfortunately, the standards by grade-level are not "thematic" in nature, but are in a more "chronological" sense. The student in their previous year (the grade-level prior) should have studied the origins of Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. While the class will address Christianity in later chapters (10 out 16 to be more specific), the topics are more related to expansion, politics, and effects of Christianity on daily life. Additionally, this grade level also covers Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism. I attempted to explain this to the parent, but feel as if it was unheard.
     
  22. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    To the parent: "Show me in your primary religious text where it specifically forbids people to discuss or learn about the beliefs of other religions."

    People have tried to say "It's against my religion" to get out of stuff forever. It bugs me that they actually ever get away with this one.

    Ironically, if their child wanted to ever be a pastor they would probably have to take a college course that covered that exact standard in far greater depth than the state standards require.
     
  23. eternalsaudade

    eternalsaudade Companion

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    It is not clear to me from this post: have you modified the assignment just for this one student or for the entire class? If it is the latter, I can say if I were another parent, I would be pretty upset that the my child's learning experience was being so strongly affected at the behest of one parent's beliefs. In any case, if the parent is being this difficult about the assignment, the child should just be sent elsewhere to complete an alternate assignment. If they aren't satisfied after the assignment has been modified several times, they probably aren't ever going to be satisfied.
     
  24. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I agree. If they have problems with that standard, they should look into a private religious school or homeschooling. They should simply pull their own child out of an activity, but not impact the education of all of the students. Are there later standards that deal similarly with the major documents of other faiths/traditions?
     
  25. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Just to add another view to this conversation (and one I found quite funny)...

    Just last week we had a student who told her history teacher that the assignment he asked her to do nearly brought her to tears because it was forcing her to sin.

    The assignment was an essay that said "Judge the decision to blah blah blah" in regards to the war of 1812. She said that judging anything is a sin and just by asking her to do it he made her think judgments and sin. I am about as conservative a Christian as you'll find (at least in California I guess) but I couldn't help but laugh at the complete misunderstanding of the word judge.

    Back on topic, I could see why a parent would object to that standard. I've taught it for 11 years and I object to it personally because of how it is worded (on a political not so much religious basis). It is the only "religion" standard in 7th grade that is worded that way. The others are purposefully devoid of religious overtones and are simply factual. There is no analysis on religious works the entire year other than those in that standard. It certainly hasn't stopped me from teaching it but it does stand out.
     
  26. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Out of curiosity, what is the exact wording of some of the other standards that deal with religion?
     
  27. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    I have a question.

    Why can't you just be taught something? You don't have to believe in it. Being a Christian, I don't believe we evolved from monkeys but I'm not going to have a fit if they teach my daughter that. Listen to the lesson, take a test on it, don't believe it, go on with what you do believe.

    Just wondering.
     
  28. physteach

    physteach Companion

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    How is this anything but factual? The original poster mentioned that Islam was one of the religions taught for this year, whereas the students learned about Christianity and Judaism the year before.
     
  29. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Tell the parent to send their kid to a private/religious school then.

    By enrolling and attending a public school, you understand and accept the standards that are set forth at the government level.
     
  30. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    If that student were in my class, the student would get whatever grade they got on the test, and I would test them on the same things. If the parent is fine with their student receiving a zero and not being prepared for the standardized testing, then that's their decision. I wouldn't put up with any efforts to say that this is against freedom of religion. Standards are standards.
     
  31. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Wow, it is amazing how far someone stretches the "freedom of religion" card. This is a history standard and not a religious standard. You aren't asking them to say Islamic prayers or pray to Allah or anything.

    I do think this is a matter for your P to handle. With or without the student, it would be wrong to skip teaching this standard.
     
  32. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Are you kidding me? How in the world is that going against their religion? I teach social studies, I teach religions, I am a Christian and attend church regularly and have never thought of it as going against my beliefs.

    I consider it a part of history, learning, and the world. Its showing the significance of THEIR beliefs not do you believe. Its like, primary source work.. :wow:
     
  33. panelbewildered

    panelbewildered New Member

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    i agree..
     
  34. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Just to clarify, being a Christian doesn't make one automatically hostile to the idea of evolution, including its relation to homo sapiens.
     
  35. looneyteachr

    looneyteachr Companion

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    Do you teach at a public school? If so, students will be taught the state standards. If a parent takes issue with that, perhaps they should seek another educational route for their child. ???
     

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