Showing Schools Grace

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools in the country had until Tax Day to certify that they follow guidelines protecting prayer and other religious activities (CT, April, p. 38). But a month later, the Associated Press reported that 150 to 200 school districts in five states didn't comply with the federal guidelines. Three others and the District of Columbia hadn't filed compliance reports. "But leaders in those states say paperwork problems, not trouble over prayer policies, accounted for the delay," the AP reported. The act says noncompliant schools can lose federal funding, but since this is its first year in effect, the U.S. Department of Education isn't using its big stick. "The goal all along has been to make sure local school districts do not have any policies in place that sanction religion—or policies that prohibit voluntary religious expression by students," department spokeswoman Susan Aspey told the AP.

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