"Religion and the Public Schools" Conference Mar. 20 at Baylor

March 4, 1999

by Lori Scott Fogleman

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's department of educational administration will host "Religion and the Public Schools," a conference focusing on the legal issues surrounding faith and learning, on Saturday, March 20, at 8 a.m. in the Bill Daniel Student Center on the Baylor campus.

School leaders, teachers and parents will hear from leading authorities on religion and the public schools. Among the conference presenters are public school advocate Frosty Troy, editor of the Oklahoma Observer; Dr. Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C., and the co-author of Taking Religion Seriously Across the Curriculum; Steven Green, chief legal counsel for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State; Dr. James Dunn, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.; Brent Walker, the committee's general counsel; Carolyn Boyle, director of the Texas Coalition for Public Education; Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network in Austin; and Dr. Derek Davis, director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding among Texas public schools about what they can and cannot do in regard to religion in the classroom," said conference coordinator Dr. James L. Williamson, the Fred Hale Professor of Education and chair of Baylor's department of educational administration. "Public school educators have to know about the legalities of religion in the classroom -- what can you do with the curriculum, what about celebrations, how do you work with children of different faiths, Christian and non-Christian?"

The conference will also focus on how and why people of faith should support public education as a means of insuring a better future for our state and nation while maintaining religious freedom for everyone, said Williamson.

The conference is sponsored by Baylor's department of educational administration, the Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Texas Freedom Network, Texas Faith Network, Texas Association of School Administrators and the Region XII Education Service Center in Waco.

The cost for the conference is $25 and includes lunch, refreshments, all sessions and conference materials. Conference attendees are requested to pre-register by fax at (254) 710-3265 by March 16. The registration fee is due the day of the conference.

For more information, call Kelly Miller in the department of educational administration at (254) 710-3117.

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