April 2009 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A home school program run by a public school district must stop using a fundamentalist Christian curriculum for instruction, New Mexico’s state education secretary has ruled.

For 11 years, Kathy Harper used instructional materials purchased from A Beka Academy to teach students enrolled at Bloomfield School District’s Family Home School. The curriculum is affiliated with Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Fla.

State Education Secretary Veronica Garcia advised the school superintendent that public schools may not teach religion.

“As I am sure you are aware, sectarian doctrine is prohibited from being taught in public schools,” she wrote, citing state statutes and the New Mexico Constitution.

“Therefore, pursuant to my supervisory authority to enforce the Public School Code,” the letter continued, “I am directing that Bloomfield Schools immediately cease using the A Beka Academy curriculum, or any other religion-based curriculum.”

Harper said she has never incorporated religion in the classroom, and only uses A Beka materials to teach math, phonics and language, not science or history.

Superintendent Randy Allison responded to Garcia’s letter by requesting to keep the curriculum in place until the end of the year. Abrupt removal of the curriculum, he said, would severely burden Harper and the students.