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FREQUENTLY ASKED

Questions

  • How does School Ministries Alabama approach teaching the Bible?
    SMA has strong Bible-based curricula with specific academic objectives that is designed and age-appropriate for specific grade levels; examples are available on our website. There is an application process for SMA Bible teachers, and applicants are reviewed and vetted for teaching experience and spiritual maturity before leading in the classroom.
  • As a parent what should I expect from School Ministries Alabama?
    Safety is the most important aspect in everything we do from transportation to teaching. Teachers and volunteers are carefully screened and monitored. SMA takes its curriculum, teaching, learning objectives, and communication with parents very seriously. You can expect safety and educational growth when you enroll your child in a School Ministries Alabama Bible class.
  • Who is School Ministries Alabama?
    School Ministries Alabama (SMA) is a Released Time Education (RTE) program. We provide Biblical Hope for students living in Alabama. Our mission is to raise, coach, and sustain release time Bible education programs across Alabama, and we are focused on changing lives of public school students through relationship with Jesus Christ. "Our mission is to raise, coach, and sustain release time Bible education programs across Alabama. We are focused on changing lives of public school students through a relationship with Jesus Christ."
  • Why is Bible education for public school students so important, anyway?
    The cover story from Time Magazine, April 2, 2007, was titled, Why We Should Teach The Bible In Public School, and included the following observations: - “Should the Holy Book be taught in public schools? Yes. It's the bedrock of Western culture. And when taught right, it's even constitutional.” - “The ‘new consensus’ for secular Bible study argues that knowledge of it is essential to being a full-fledged, well-rounded citizen.” - “Simply put, the Bible is the most influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year.” Released time Bible education is a unique opportunity for public school students to experience a well-rounded education by studying the “best-selling” and “most influential book” in history. A Biblical foundation and worldview has many benefits including character and relationship development, and of course aids to develop and mature a spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • When did Released Time Bible Education become legal?
    Released time Bible education (RTBE) was initiated in the United States in 1914 by Dr. William Wirt, Superintendent of the Gary, Indiana school system. Dr. Wirt conceived of and implemented classes supported by the “three-legged stool” that ultimately became the constitutional standard for RTBE: (1) Students must have parental permission, (2) classes must be taught off public school premises, and (3) classes must privately funded. RTBE was later held constitutionally permissible in 1952 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zorach v Clauson, 342 U.S. 306 (1952).
  • What is Released Time Education (RTBE)?
    Released Time (or “Release Time”) Education is a constitutionally permissible process of releasing – with parental permission – public school students during the public school day for time to attend classes taught off public school premises that are privately funded. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Zorach v Clauson, 342 U.S. 306 (1952), that RTE programs and classes incorporating those three elements for religious instruction (1-parental permission, 2-taught off school premises, 3-privately funded) do not violate the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making released time Bible education (RTBE) classes constitutionally permissible for every public school district and public school student in the United States.
  • Does Alabama have Released Time Education in place?
    The Alabama Released Time Credit Act (Ala. Code § 16-1-20.6) became state law in 2019 and allows that, “each local board of education may implement a policy for a student to attend released time as an elective course…” The legislation requires that released time classes follow the principles enumerated in Zorach v Clauson and allows eligible students (generally those in grades 9 through 12) to receive qualified elective course credit.
  • How do I get a released time Bible education program started at my school?
    Starting a Bible class program is a process that takes commitment and community support. School Ministries Alabama assists you with navigating the process to meet with the School District Superintendent and School Board leadership to obtain approval and will then work with you and your school’s Principle and administration to set up class scheduling and logistics. You will locate a host church or other venue where classes can meet that is located close to the school. Community leaders – senior pastors, student ministers, lay leaders – will help raise up capable volunteers to support the Bible class as teachers and lesson coaches. Grassroots community efforts will then get the word out to parents and secure student enrollment. We’re here to help! Contact us to make released time Bible education classes a reality for YOUR schools and community!
  • Why does RTBE not violate separation of church and state?
    “Separation of church and state” is not a legal principle, merely a cultural “trigger phrase” appropriated from Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists, emotionalizing the legal precept in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution known as the “Establishment Clause”: “Congress shall not make any law concerning the establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof (emphasis added).” The review of RTBE by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zorach v Clauson recognized and reinforced the constitutionally protected right of parents to direct (“exercise”) the religious education of their children by using released time education.
  • What is Extended Learning Opportunity?
    Extended learning (also known as expanded learning or enhanced learning) is a concept employed by public school educators to redesign school days to provide students, particularly in communities of concentrated poverty, with more and better learning time. Extended learning opportunities (ELO) refers to any educational program or strategy which is intended to increase the amount of time and subjects that students are learning. This is done especially for the purposes of improving academic achievement and test scores, and reducing learning loss, learning gaps, and achievement gaps.
  • Need More Information?
    Alabama Extended Learning Opportunities Act (Ala. Code § 16-46C-1) Alabama Extended Learning Opportunities Act State Department of Education Memo FY22-2053 Model Policy & documents Alabama Released Time Credit Act (Ala. Code § 16-1-20.6) Alabama Released Time Credit Act State Department of Education Memo FY19-1008 Model Policy & Statute documents
  • Does Alabama have Extended Learning Opportunities in place?
    The Alabama Extended Learning Opportunities Act (Ala. Code § 16-46C-1) became state law in 2021 to promote, ...out-of-classroom learning experience, approved by the State Board of Education, a local board of education, or a public charter school, that provides a student with any of the following: a. Enrichment opportunities. b. Career readiness or employability skills opportunities, including internships, pre-apprenticeships, and apprenticeships. c. Any other approved educational opportunity. [Section 3(1)]
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