State Issue: Public School Release Time

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed public schools to implement rules permitting students to leave school grounds for religious instruction during the school day, so long as the school district is not involved in the religious programming. However, such programs are an academic disservice to students and interfere with schools’ ability to provide effective education. Parents have ample time to provide their children with religious instruction, and should not do so in place of secular class time.

Particularly dangerous are laws that allow students to receive school credit for unregulated release time religious instruction. Since schools cannot (by law) direct such instruction, it cannot verify that academic standards are met, or that students are meeting expectations that would be required to receive comparable credit in a secular class. This leaves students under-educated and with misleadingly inflated high school transcripts, misleading potential universities or employers with undeserved credits. Religion-obsessed Orthodox yeshivas in New York serve as a cautionary tale of how substituting religious instruction in place of secular studies can devastate students’ lives.

The FFRF Action Fund opposes all expansions of release time programs, especially those offering school credit.