Let's put God back in our schools

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Column by Jim Clark

It’s a little tough to write anything that hasn’t been said after Valentine’s Day’s terrible shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in which 14 students and three faculty members were killed. But I’m going to give it a try.

Fifty-five years ago, the Supreme Court, under liberal Earl Warren, ruled against prayer in the public schools. Since then public school educators are almost paranoid about teaching any type of morality in the schools, lest some misguided parent go after them if they do.

The first group of children to suffer from this ruling was the children of the 1960s and early 1970s, with things such as free love and LSD coming into the culture.

Then those kids started having children, many of whom had no morality training whatsoever.

Thus, the cycle started.

I went to 12 years of Catholic school. When I wanted advice, I could go to the nuns in elementary school and the Christian Brothers in high school, and of course there were my parents, both of them, and my parish priests.

I really wonder who today’s students turn to, if not their parents, if they’re there, teachers and guidance counselors, who have crazy schedules but do the best they can.

Maybe if they started each day with a short prayer, students would get the message that there’s a higher power, one that welcomes our troubles and takes it upon himself to comfort us. Since nothing else is working, maybe it’s worth a try.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is catching up with our dubious policy of no prayer in the schools, and that’s too bad.

And then there are guns. I can’t help thinking about Aaron Feis, the football coach/security guard who took a bullet, or more, to save the lives of some students. If, instead of jumping in front of those students, he had reached in his pocket, pulled out a handgun and put some bullets into Nikolas Cruz. Then more lives would have been saved, and we’d be honoring Feis as a live hero, instead of a dead one.

There was an old bumper sticker that I firmly believed in: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws would have guns.”

How they dress. I’ve never gotten used to the way children dress for school. Here is where we lag behind other countries, many of whom require uniforms on their students. Many U.S. schools have dress codes, but they fall far short of uniforms.

Each student, especially in high school, should have an ID badge prominently displayed when on campus, even for things like football and basketball games. If a student is suspended or expelled, as Cruz was, the badge would be confiscated. That might have made it easier to spot him as he escaped with fleeing students.

I may come up with more observations in a future column. But I’m not naive enough to think it will make any difference.

Jim Clark is the editor of the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen.