AUSTIN — After a bill to teach Bible classes to high school students easily gained approval from the Senate on Wednesday, lawmakers immediately disagreed on whether the measure would make the courses mandatory.
Legislative leaders were not sure whether school districts would be obligated to offer the religion studies course if 15 or more students sign up for it. Both “may” and “shall” show up in different sections of the House bill the Senate sent to the governor without changing.
So why limit it to Bible classes? Why shouldn’t schools be required to provide classes in the Chinese language if 15 students request it? What about Java programming, will the school also have to provide the computers?
Obviously, the original sponsor of the bill thought the school could just go out and hire a Sunday school teacher. Things are a little different if you have to go out and hire a teacher qualified to teach it as an academic subject.
And if a student requests a class which the school then provides, is the student obligated to take the class? What if a requesting student moves out of the district–what happens to the class? It looks like to me common sense prevailed in the Education Committee by changing the language from “shall” to “may.”