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Group criticizes Texas Bible study classes

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An education watchdog group is giving the State School Board a bad grade in how classes on the Bible are being taught.

Six years ago state lawmakers passed legislation that allows school district to teach courses on the Bible. But according to a review, released Wednesday, some of the classes seem to be better suited for Sunday school.

The review- reading writing and religion II, was done by SMU Professor Mark Chancey. Wednesday, Chancey and Kathy Miller- with the Texas freedom network called for a Bible study reboot.

"If the Bible and the study of the Bible isn't getting the respect it deserves, and the faith of our students is not getting the respect it deserves these classes, this is instruction should be taking place in congregations and at home and not at our public schools," Miller said.

According to the review, about 60 school districts in Texas currently offer some type of class using the Bible.

According to Chancey, some are done well but others are not. He claims the state school board failed to set proper standards, which was originally intended by the legislature.

"Without a doubt what's often happening is that Districts are just assigning a course to a teacher giving no guidance and the teacher is doing the best he or she can with no resources and no guidance and when that happens ... teachers often fall back either on their own religious background or popular culture and that's exactly what the Law's safe guards intended to prevent," Chancey said.

Jonathan Saenz with Texas Values, another watch dog group, says proper standards are in place and he's not surprised by the conclusions made in the review.

"The law is very clear in how you are supposed to teach these things, the Supreme Court has even said its constitutional to do it, but you have to look at this complaint from this left wing group from the lens of the bias that they already bring to this issue, they're very hostile to people of religious beliefs particularly Christianity so it's no surprise that they will be hostile to anything related to the Bible in public schools," Saenz said.

The recommendations for lawmakers cited in the report include providing money for in service teacher training and forcing the school board to the set more specific Bible study standards.

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