"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

God Forbid

A fifth-grader had the word ‘God’ removed from a Thanksgiving poem she authored before it was hung up at school because school officials were fearful of violating rules about religion in the classroom, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.

Kaeley Hay, 10, penned the poem for an assignment at Lincoln-Franklin Elementary School in Garwood. The poem read:

Leaves are falling out of the air,
Piles of leaves everywhere.
Scarecrows standing high up with the corn,
Farmers harvest in the early morn.
Pilgrims thank God for what they were given,
Everybody say ... happy Thanksgiving!

Kaeley's classmates liked the work so much they voted to display it in big black letters on the hallway bulletin board just in time for parent-teacher night. But when posting it, someone at the school omitted the word ‘God.’

The school superintendent Bill Murphy maintained the school acted with appropriate caution. "We were always instructed as educators to keep a clear separation between church and state," he said. "There is a very fine line between children's work and the use of the word 'God.'"

Only after Kaeley’s mother complained and school officials consulted with their lawyers was the poem restored to its original state. Kaeley said she's glad her poem was restored. But she's not quite clear on the reason it had been changed. "It was a good poem the way I wrote it," she said. It didn't sound right, the way they changed it."



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