Sumner County Schools cuts out field trips to religious venues
Sep. 20, 2013 2:10 AM | 3 Comments
A A Written by Tena Lee Gannett Tennessee
FILED UNDER News News Education
ADVERTISEMENT Sumner County Schools students will no longer be allowed to take field trips to religious venues after the stepfather of a Hendersonville High School student accused the school of promoting Islam.
The issue surfaced when a couple of parents asked about a planned field trip to a mosque and a Hindu temple during the school’s back-to-school night, according to parent Mike Conner. Conner said parents raised concerns about the trip because the 36-week world studies course was only going to be visiting the two religious venues.
For the past 10 years, Hendersonville High School has offered an honors world studies class in which students spend three weeks learning about Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hindu and Islam.
Schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson said the class has visited religious venues in the past, including a Jewish synagogue, a Hindu temple and a mosque. No parents have complained in the past, he said.
Conner said he’s OK with the students studying five religions, but it became a problem for him when only two venues were visited. Conner’s stepdaughter did not take the trip but was allowed to do an alternative assignment.
The school system said this week that all trips to religious venues are off.
“After receiving a parent complaint regarding field trip locations, our district has reviewed the practice and decided to eliminate field trips to religious venues from this class, as it does not provide equal representation to all the religions studied in the course unit,” read the statement. “This decision was made due to the fact that equal representation in regards to field trips for all religions studied in the course is not feasible.”
Kelly Fussman, a 2012 graduate of Hendersonville High School, took the world studies class during the 2008-09 school year.
“The world studies class was really the one and only class that allowed for such an open dialogue of faith and religion,” she said, adding the field trips enhanced that dialogue.
Fussman said Amanda Elmore, who teaches the class, was the first teacher she had who made her think critically about the world.
“Without her pushing the limits, I wouldn’t be so open to new cultures.”
Sigh. My thoughts will sound scattered so bear with me. The past week, I've been reflecting on the history of this country. Earlier this week, I watched one of the Latino Americans segment on PBS. The similarities in the violence of lynchings, stolen land and wealth can be found in their history just like that of African Americans.
Yesterday, I listened to my favorite Left Talk show - Make it Plain with Mark Thompson - and he had the survivor of the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing on his show (Ms. Sarah Collins Rudolph). She stated yesterday that the bombing shocked her, because, well it was church and you don't associate violence with a place of worship. Then I thought of the Sikh Temple shooting and wanted to cry. That in one event 50 years ago, some people in this nation have learned not one single, solitary damned thing.
Then I read this story, and I'm reminded again of the small mindedness of people in this country. We're so afraid of everything. Everyone who doesn't look like you is the enemy, and I'm tired of it.
We've done enough to every other ethnic group in this country. We've killed people. Imprisoned them. And we're still killing unarmed people for just being the wrong color.