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The Unconstitutional Solution That Today’s Troubled Students Need

A teenager named Eden* sits in the assistant principal’s office at Paradise Falls High School. Her eyes are red and cloudy, and she smells strongly of marijuana despite claiming she never smokes it. “Leave me f—— alone!” she screams.

With assistance from a female security guard, the administrator confiscates Eden’s weed pipe and a small bag of bud and suspends her for three days. Upon calling the girl’s home, the school learns from Eden’s mother that her daughter is in therapy. She had transferred Eden into this new school at the beginning of the academic year, with hopes of her making a fresh start, but Eden quickly made friends with other troubled teens who skipped school daily and spent their days in a city park across the street from the school.

A week after the marijuana incident, Eden got into a fight at the same park. The girl she attacked did not fight back, so Eden got another three-day suspension. The victim’s father told the school that his daughter had been friends with her attacker but that things went bad. He had recently received a text from Eden saying that he owed her 20 dollars for a sheet of LSD that she had given to his daughter.

Eden’s mother knew her daughter’s life was spiraling out of control but was at a loss about what to do. Unfortunately, school staff have little ability to help students like Eden and her mother.

Ultimately, Eden’s life crashed in over-the-top fashion when she was attacked by some other students in her own home after school. Although she answered the intruders’ knock with a steak knife in her hands, ready to fight, the two boys and a girl pushed past her, the female invader grabbing her knife. Eden was then beaten so badly that she suffered a concussion and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Her forehead and face had several cuts, bumps, and bruises.

Floundering out of a pandemic, today’s public schools are likewise struggling in a collapsed society, rudderless with no anchor. And the unions, who fought against taking the alleged risk of teaching students in person, choosing instead to teach through computers to dulled audiences, are stupidly scratching their heads at what has happened to students since that ruinous mid-March day in 2020 when schools first went virtual.

But the floundering and the problems started long before the pandemic turned the physical lights off in our nation’s school buildings. The metaphorical lights began to dim in 1962 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Engle v. Vitale that prayers cannot be said in public schools. A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Abington School District v. Schempp (1963) that devotional Bible reading or any other government sponsored religious activities were unconstitutional.

The existential intellectuals who fought to chase God out of the schools have no replacement ideas. Do they really think everyone, particularly our students, can be ethical—avoiding fights and drugs and other misconduct—because of their innate goodness or their ability to reason?

There is currently a movement in the United States to reconsider the Roe v. Wade (1973) decision. If such a monumental case regarding abortion rights can be reconsidered, why can we not reconsider Engle v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp and perhaps bring God back into our nation’s schools?

Students are in crisis, struggling with drugs, including deadly fentanyl. They engage in fights, truancy, and sexual perversion. They experience extreme apathy and identity confusion. Their minds are controlled by social media, which exacerbates all of these issues. When troubled teens are asked what they have hope in or what they look forward to, the common answer is “nothing.”

A social-emotional curriculum and culturally responsive teaching aren’t cures. They are man-made efforts, which only catalyze other problems.

It would be a divine miracle if the Bible were to be read and professed in every classroom in America, but it certainly seems doing so would go a long way toward resolving many of these moral and ethical struggles which plague today’s students. Faith and hope in a Higher Power are the only true cures.

*Names have been changed.

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W. J. Peters
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