Year of Publication

2009

Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

First Advisor

Dr. Marcia Lamkin

Second Advisor

Dr. Julie Ingersoll

Third Advisor

Dr. Russell Mays

Abstract

The subject of religion in public schools has always been controversial. America is a religiously diverse society, and one of the fundamental documents of this country, the Constitution of the United States, prohibits the establishment of a single religion which may seek to influence or control the ―free exercise‖ of all religions.

Indeed the discussion of religion in school is very extensive. The subject includes, but is not limited to the discussion of students‘ religious expression, prayer in school, students‘ religious accommodations, the right of the student to distribute religious literature, as well as the rights of students to form religious clubs.

The objective of this research study was to refine the very broad discussion of religion and religious liberties in public schools to the narrow subject of how teaching about religion is viewed in the public schools. Furthermore, given the current world‘s conflict with members of the Islamic faith and the increasing Muslim population in the United States, the study about Islam is a fundamental subject of inquiry for today‘s students who require a more global outlook.

Primary to the study of whether teaching about religion is constitutional, which it is, an examination of how teachers, administrators, and school board members approach the subject, implement the policy, and prepare teachers for the task, was the focus of this research. Using a mixed methods methodology, I collected and analyzed quantitative and qualitative data from a sample total of 1,054 Florida social studies teachers. Overall, the results of the findings were that the surveyed teachers were open to teaching about all religions. However, their training and level of understanding of the content material required to accomplish the tasks were deficient. Recommendations included the designing of appropriate pre-service and in-service training programs for teachers who have responsibilities for teaching about various religions.

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