Georgia high school principals' perspectives on released time for religious instruction
Davidson, Philip S.
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The purpose of this study was to determine principals’ knowledge of, and beliefs about, released time for religious instruction. Released Time is a program that allows public school students, with parent permission, to leave campus during school hours to attend religious education classes. These classes are completely funded and taught by religious or community groups. Since 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Released Time. This study sought to determine the relationship between high school size, socioeconomic status, school location, and Georgia public high school principals’ perceptions of released time for religious instruction. Data for this quantitative study were collected using a survey instrument. This survey was sent to the principals of all the 322 traditional high schools in the state of Georgia during the summer of 2005. The survey included statements to determine each principal’s knowledge of released time bible study programs and the principal’s beliefs about the benefit, support, or legitimacy of a released time bible study program for their individual school. The survey also contained statements designed to determine the use of release time for both bible study and traditional classes in high schools across the state of Georgia. The responses from the survey were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings indicated that there was no statistically significant relationship in principals’ responses based on the independent variables. Conclusions from this study indicated that among Georgia high school principals there is a general lack of awareness about released time religious instruction programs. The data also indicated that Georgia school systems are committed to allowing students to leave school campus to participate in classes the school does not offer. The study includes recommendations for future study and implications for practice.