Local non-profit Bible in the Schools presented Hamilton County Schools with its annual community gift of over $1.7 million as reimbursement for the 2019-2020 Bible History elective program. Cathy Scott, president, along with Tom Glenn, incoming chairman of the board of directors, and board member of Bible in the Schools Mike Harrell presented the community gift to Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson. Also present to receive the gift was School Board Chairman Joe Wingate.
Superintendent Johnson said, “Our district’s goal is to graduate students who are future-ready and prepared for success in college and career. The Bible History Program, available for students as an elective in grades 6-12, equips students to recognize the many cultural connections between an ancient text and our modern world. The Hamilton County Schools leadership team is grateful for its strong community partnership with Bible in the Schools, especially for the continued financial support from the greater Chattanooga community, whose generosity has funded the program and enriched the lives of thousands of students.”
Attendance in Bible History courses increased despite the broad array of challenges that students in Hamilton County faced this year. In spite of the difficult academic year due to the coronavirus, the economic downturn, and the tornado that impacted thousands of homes across Hamilton County, Bible History enrollment continued to climb. Data from 26 participating Hamilton County public and charter schools reported that 4,579 students (61 percent of whom are classified by the state as Title 1 or come from low-income families) persevered despite these challenges and completed a Bible History elective course in the 2019-2020 academic year. Of the 20,000 students in the county who had access to Bible History, 24 percent took and completed a course.
Mr. Glenn said, “For 99 years, Bible in the Schools has provided public school students with the free gift of Bible History elective courses at no cost to taxpayers. It is an honor to present this gift to our public schools, as it represents the generosity of so many people’s hearts across Hamilton County. We are excited about the upcoming school year as we add Bible programs at Tyner Middle Academy and East Hamilton Middle School. For the 2020-2021 academic year, Bible History courses will be offered in 28 participating schools throughout Hamilton County. Our goal is to give every middle and high school student the opportunity to study the Bible at school if they so choose.”
Ms. Scott said, “This community gift for Bible History elective courses, given through Bible in the Schools, represents a generous community that understands the enduring value that studying the Bible can have in the lives of students in our public schools. We believe Bible History is a critical component to a well-rounded education. It awakens students to the rich, cultural footprint the Bible has left in global history while offering the hope, values, and life lessons relevant to the tough issues youth face today. The Hamilton County Schools’ program continues to lead our nation with the largest concentration of public school students in any one school district studying the Bible in 28 schools. We are grateful to provide a text that enriches students with wisdom and knowledge--one that crosses all cultural, socioeconomic, and racial barriers, while still touching lives each day.”
Officials said, "These courses are an opportunity for students to have a viewpoint neutral, foundational study of one of the cornerstone texts of world history. Students who study the Bible from a historical and literary perspective become more culturally literate and better equipped to thrive and contribute to a global world."
Entering this 99th year, Bible History courses will be offered in 28 schools and will be taught by 26 highly credentialed teachers in the 2020-2021 academic year. Bible History teachers are hired by school principals and led by a full-time Bible History Program Coordinator. The organization fully funds all taxes, teacher salaries and benefits, year-round costs of teacher professional development, legal training, classroom materials, and Bible textbooks for the courses.
Bible History classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed that the teaching of for-credit Bible History electives in Hamilton County’s public middle and high schools is constitutionally permissible. The Hamilton County Bible History curricular framework is court approved and aligns with the Tennessee Department of Education’s state academic standards.
More information regarding participating schools and courses offered is available at www.bibleintheschools.com. Direct any inquiries to Caroline Case, email@example.com.