Equipping Schools

Religious Liberty and Religious Literacy in Public Schools

The center provides guidelines and strategies for creating school communities that promote First Amendment principles and prepare students for ethical and engaged citizenship in a pluralistic democracy.

Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools

First Amendment and Religion in Public Schools

For 25 years, the First Amendment Center — and now its outgrowth, the Religious Freedom Center — has provided in-school training for teachers, principals, and school boards.

In January 2015, for example, the center provided professional development on religious liberty in schools to administrators and teachers in the Tulsa, Oklahoma school district.

Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Face to Faith in US Schools

Charles C. Haynes serves as US advisor to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to promote its schools program, Face to Faith in America’s public and private schools.

From 2009 to 2014, some 60,000 students have participated in videoconference dialogues with their peers across the world and engaged one another in a secure online community. The purpose is to provide American students with the skills and competencies they need to become global citizens. This academic programme encourages global cultural exchange.

“We have a responsibility to provide students with the knowledge and skills to secure peace in the future. Governments around the world recognise the need to equip their younger citizens with the knowledge and skills to reject prejudice, conflict and extremism and to secure an open-minded society. As educators in the US, we have a responsibility to provide students with the knowledge and skills to secure peace in the future. US schools have a leading role in educating future generations to a more open-minded view of our world.” ~ Kristen Farrington, Head of Face to Faith North America.

First Amendment Principles

We listened carefully to our teachers, ensuring Face to Faith in American public schools is implemented in ways that uphold First Amendment principles and guidelines. Teachers using Face to Faith are neutral towards religion—both neutral among religions and neutral between religion and non-religion—when teaching about faiths and beliefs. As part of the teacher training Face to Faith provides, teachers are shown how to prepare students for participation in Face to Faith using First Amendment principles.

We have worked hard not only to ensure that Face to Faith does not violate this principle but also to demonstrate how Face to Faith is an exciting opportunity for American public schools to model and teach First Amendment principles by encouraging student participation, civil dialogue and mutual respect.

Face to Faith educates students about an array of civic principles, including fundamental human rights and civic responsibilities, which flow from the First Amendment. Educating students about different religions and cultures will prepare them for daily interaction, both in their community and outside it, and will help them develop a deeper understanding of themselves as both American and global citizens. Direct interaction with students in other countries will reinforce the civic values learned in the classroom and bring them to life.

Implementing Common Core Standards

To further assit teachers in American public schools, Face to Faith has been able to map our programme against the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, which are the standards for teaching and assessing the essential knowledge of students attending public schools. This mapping shows public school teachers and administrators how and where Face to Faith can help achieve these standards. The Introduction Module of Face to Faith, for example, includes analytical guides that address the evaluation of visual information including intercultural encounters through visual media.

“Participating in the Face to Faith program has inspired me to learn more about different cultures and played a very large role in my decision to pursue International Affairs as a major in college and eventually get a job promoting respect and understanding for different heritages and cultures.” — Rathna Muralidharan, student from the U.S.