The world has changed. In the 1940s, the Fullerton (CA) Police conducted a study to find the most significant problems in public high schools. According to their study, the top problems were: talking in class, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, getting out of turn in line, wearing improper clothing and littering. Compare this to the top problems children face today: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault. Many students even become involved in such activities before high school. How can your school prepare students to succeed both academically and behaviorally in such an environment? How can they learn the work ethics so needed in today’s work force?
POSITIVE INFLUENCES: Many parents believe that positive moral based education can only exist in private and/or home school settings. To the contrary, we at School Ministries have seen that Released Time Religious Education (RTBE) provides an opportunity to provide such an environment without interfering in church and state relationships.
Principles of School Ministries, Inc., Released Time Bible Education (RTBE) Programs
- School Ministries RTBE provides Christian based lessons to public school children during the school day. These programs are voluntary, privately funded and are held off school grounds during the school day.
- RTBE classes are offered for grades 1-12; however, some programs may only offer classes to specific grade levels.
- South Carolina offers, up to two electives may be given for academic credit at the high school level, and other states have similar legislation pending.
- RT classes are scheduled during an assigned time that does not interfere with the core school courses.
IMPROVING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: Across the country, teachers and school administrators struggle with limited funds to improve students’ academic performance. Continued efforts to measure learning achievements are driven by the federal No Child Left Behind or by state initiatives both of which put teachers under pressure to raise test scores while dealing with increased behavioral problems. RTBE is one resource schools can use to improve the odds of students’ success, and it doesn’t cost schools anything!
RESEARCH FINDINGS: From the very beginning, public school teachers have indicated that their students attending Released Time classes demonstrate improved academic skill, exhibit less-at-risk behavior and have more respect for themselves and others. School administrators have supported these observations and noted that these positive changes in students’ lives are allowing teachers to spend more time teaching and less time taking disciplinary action. Research validates the following observations:
- A program evaluation of the Oakland (CA) Released Time program conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency documented that “students in the Released Time program performed better than their classmates as a whole in almost every category” and their scores “improved after one year…in three categories of literacy skills comprehension, spelling and vocabulary. The report further states that the program reinforces positive moral and character development that is antithetical to engaging in criminal or delinquent behavior.”
- After the passage of No Child Left Behind, great concern was evidenced for anything that took time away from students’ academic work. However, independent researchers have specifically examined whether releasing students from class for spiritual instruction hinders academic performance. Ongoing research documented by David R. Hodge concluded that, contrary to what might be expected, participation in Released Time is not associated with lower academic test scores. This research also gave indication that Released Time may represent a form of social capital, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, that help to instill values that directly and indirectly help students to achieve academically. See for example Hodge’s latest (2012) publication in the journal of the National Association of Social Workers, Children and Schools.
RELEASED TIME HISTORY:
In 1952, the Supreme Court upheld Released Time as being constitutional in all 50 states provided there is parental approval, the programs are not held on school property and no tax dollars are used. Subsequent court cases have further clarified what is allowed and what is not allowed.