Pictured (from left) are Bible in the Schools’ President, Cathy Scott; Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent, Dr. Bryan Johnson; Board Chairman, Chris Maclellan; Bible in the Schools board member, Mike Harrell.
photo by Chad Wilson
Entering its 97th year, local nonprofit, Bible in the Schools, presented Hamilton County Schools and two participating charter schools a collective gift of $1.3 million, as reimbursement for the complete costs of the 2017-2018 county-wide public school Bible History elective program.
Enrollment data from 23 participating Hamilton County public schools reported 4,068 public school students in grades 6-12 completed Bible History elective courses during the 2017-2018 academic year — a record enrollment and 9% increase over the previous academic year.
Presenting the gift to Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson were Mr. Chris Maclellan, chairman of the board of directors of Bible in the Schools, Mr. Mike Harrell, member of the board, and Ms. Cathy Scott, the organization’s president.
“We are committed to providing our students with a world class education, which includes making sure students develop a broad understanding of the events, writings, and ideas that have shaped Western society and the culture around them,” said Dr. Johnson. “This gift — which was the largest philanthropic gift received by Hamilton County public schools during the 2017-2018 school year through community partnerships — empowered Hamilton County Schools to hire 20 qualified and certified Bible History teachers for the 2017-2018 academic year.”
“Bible in the Schools’ commitment to providing Hamilton County Schools with Bible History elective courses has sustained for nearly 10 decades. It is our privilege to deliver this gift that represents thousands of generous people who understand the importance of exposing young people to the Bible. Every year, there is evidence that Bible History provides a unique benefit to public school students, at no cost to taxpayers, and has a lasting impact in student lives. We look forward to having 25 participating schools this fall, and our board is greatly encouraged to have seen county-wide student access to Bible History increase from 67% to 81% in the past 24 months. Currently, courses are available as electives to over four fifths of all public middle and high school students in Hamilton County, and our hope is to see Bible History in the near future in all eligible schools,” said Bible in the Schools’ Board Chairman, Mr. Maclellan.
Ms. Scott said, “Bible in the Schools is honored to be the conduit through which the community makes this elective possible for youth in our public schools. We believe the Bible is essential to a well-rounded education and to the overall character development of youth. While Bible History is a robust academic subject, the byproduct of these courses reaches beyond mere academic gains as students are exposed to the hope, values, and life lessons found in the Bible; many of which are universally relevant today. Students often report that the Bible empowers them to give more thought to their actions and to make healthier choices, particularly related to conduct, relationships, and self-care. It is with deep honor that we present this gift that we trust will continue to enrich public school youth with the hope, wisdom, and knowledge of what is still the world’s most influential book.”
Bible History courses will expand to 25 schools this fall and will be taught by 22 highly credentialed teachers and led by a full-time Bible History Program Coordinator, all of whom are employed by the school system and are fully funded through charitable donations to Bible in the Schools. In addition to gifting teacher salaries and benefits, Bible in the Schools fully funds all taxes, costs of bi-annual teacher professional development and legal training, classroom materials, and Bible textbooks for the courses.
Bible History classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed teaching of Bible History for-credit electives in Hamilton County’s public middle and high schools as constitutionally permissible, with the Bible to be used as the textbook. The Hamilton County Bible History curricular framework is court approved and aligns to the Tennessee Department of Education’s state academic standards.
Bible History elective classes in the public schools are an opportunity for students to have a viewpoint neutral, foundational study – at no cost to taxpayers – of one of the cornerstone texts of world history, which helps students become culturally literate and better equipped to thrive and contribute to a global world. More information regarding participating schools and courses offered is available at www.bibleintheschools.com.