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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (August 12, 2021) — As thousands of students return for another school year this August, local nonprofit Bible in the Schools (BITS) celebrates the start of the 100th school year that Bible History elective courses have been offered in Hamilton County’s public schools.

Since 1922, public school students in Hamilton County have taken Bible elective courses as part of their regular school day. A 100-year-old institution, Bible in the Schools is the byproduct of the vision of Dr. J. Park McCallie, founder of The McCallie School.

After observing the benefits of Bible History classes on McCallie School youth, Dr. McCallie was convinced that Bible classes are “altogether the most worthwhile courses we have.” He wanted all students, public and private, to have the opportunity to study the Bible at their school. In 1922, Dr. McCallie organized a group known as the Public School Bible Study Committee, later referred to as Bible in the Schools, and argued before the City Commission that Bible classes should be taught in the public schools.

“Today we stand on the shoulders of one man who, in 1922, understood the academic benefit of the rigor required from students when studying such a complex text, but who also recognized that when students studied the Bible, it had a transformative impact in their lives as well as on the integrity and climate of the entire school,” said Mrs. Cathy Scott. Mrs. Scott is the current president of Bible in the Schools.

Bible History classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed that the teaching of for-credit non-sectarian Bible History elective classes in Hamilton County’s public middle and high schools is constitutionally permissible. Before 1980, elementary students throughout Hamilton County were eligible to take Bible courses; since the court ruling, the elective courses are only taught in middle and high schools.

The Hamilton County Bible History curricular framework is court-approved, taught from an historical and literary perspective, and aligns with the standards of the Tennessee State Department of Education. The Hamilton County Schools Bible History program continues to lead our nation with the largest concentration of public school students in any one school district studying the Bible.

Entering its 100th school year, Bible in the Schools now reaches 29 public schools and over 4,600 students. Demand for Bible History grows each school year: 2021 boasted the highest Bible History enrollment numbers since the program’s inception. Hamilton County Schools’ data reports that of the 19,006 students in the county who had access to Bible History in 2020-2021, approximately one in four students took and completed a course.

Bible History elective courses provide public school students with the opportunity to receive a viewpoint-neutral, foundational study--at no cost to taxpayers--of one of the cornerstone texts of world history. Courses like Bible History encourage responsible citizenship and contribute to a broad education. They develop cultural literacy in young minds and equip students to thrive in and contribute to a global world.

Bible in the Schools has provided public school students in Hamilton County with Bible History classes for 100 years, funded entirely by charitable community donations. Because of the generosity of the community, Bible in the Schools provided the largest community-funded donation to Hamilton County Schools in the 2020-2021 academic year.

More information is available at www.bibleintheschools.com.

Please direct any inquiries to info@bibleintheschools.com.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (August 3, 2021) — Local nonprofit Bible in the Schools presented Hamilton County Schools (HCS) with their annual community gift of almost $1.8 million as reimbursement for the 2020-2021 countywide Bible History elective program. Bible in the Schools Board Chairman Mr. Tom Glenn and President Mrs. Cathy Scott presented Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson with the $1.8 million gift. Also present was Bible in the Schools board member Mr. Mike Harrell.


Dr. Bryan Johnson stated: “It is an honor to once again accept the gift of Bible History on behalf of Hamilton County Schools. This gift sponsors the education of thousands of public school students in our district. The countywide Bible History elective program encourages students in grades 6-12 to recognize the rich cultural connections between an ancient text and our modern world. Hamilton County seeks to graduate students who are future-ready and prepared for success in college and career. By thinking critically and engaging in historically rich conversations, HCS is preparing students to become global thinkers and responsible citizens.”


Founded in 1922, Bible in the Schools provides Bible History elective courses for public school students in Hamilton County. Entering its 100th year, Bible in the Schools now reaches 29 public schools and over 4,600 students in grades 6-12. Demand for Bible History continues to grow, as 2021 recorded the highest Bible History enrollment numbers yet. HCS data reveals that, of the 19,006 students in the county who had access to Bible History elective courses in 2020-2021, one in four students completed a Bible course for graduation credit.


Bible History courses are funded entirely by the generous supporters of Bible in the Schools. Board Chairman Mr. Tom Glenn stated: “As we approach our 100th school year, it is an honor to present this gift to our public schools, as it represents the heart behind so many donors in this community. Such generosity makes the gift of Bible History available to so many young lives.” Because of the generosity of the community, Bible in the Schools provided the largest community partner donation to Hamilton County Schools given in the 2020-2021 academic year.


President Mrs. Cathy Scott stated: “The Hamilton County public school Bible History program has been a daily dispenser of hope in this community and reflects the generosity of so many committed partners. Studying Bible History in our public schools helps ground and awaken students to the rich cultural footprint that the Bible has had on history, while offering students hope, values, and life lessons relevant to the tough issues they wrestle with daily. We believe that a knowledge of the Bible is a key component to a well-rounded education that encourages students to not just be passive observers of society, but active contributors in a global world. Thank you to all who have donated generously to enrich Hamilton County Schools with a text that crosses all cultural, socioeconomic, and racial barriers, while still touching lives each day.” 


Bible History classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed that the teaching of for-credit Bible History elective classes in Hamilton County’s public middle and high schools is constitutionally permissible. The Bible History curricular framework is court-approved and aligns with the Tennessee Department of Education’s state academic standards. The Hamilton County-based program also leads the nation with the largest concentration of public school students in any one school district studying the Bible. The program is entering its 100th year.


More information regarding participating schools and courses offered is available at www.bibleintheschools.com.


Please direct any inquiries to info@bibleintheschools.com.


Photo Credit: Rachel Douglass



CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (August 4, 2020) — Local nonprofit Bible in the Schools presented Hamilton County Schools (HCS) with their annual community gift of over $1.7 million as reimbursement for the 2019-2020 Bible History elective program. Mrs. Cathy Scott, President, along with Mr. Tom Glenn, incoming Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Board Member of Bible in the Schools Mr. Mike Harrell presented the community gift to Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson. Also present to receive the gift was School Board Chairman, Mr. Joe Wingate.

 

Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson stated: “Our district’s goal is to graduate students who are future-ready and prepared for success in college and career. The Bible History Program, available for students as an elective in grades 6-12, equips students to recognize the many cultural connections between an ancient text and our modern world. The Hamilton County Schools leadership team is grateful for its strong community partnership with Bible in the Schools, especially for the continued financial support from the greater Chattanooga community, whose generosity has funded the program and enriched the lives of thousands of students.”

Attendance in Bible History courses increased despite the broad array of challenges that students in Hamilton County faced this year. In spite of the difficult academic year due to the coronavirus, the economic downturn, and the tornado that impacted thousands of homes across Hamilton County, Bible History enrollment continued to climb. Data from 26 participating Hamilton County public and charter schools reported that 4,579 students (61% of whom are classified by the state as Title 1 or come from low-income families) persevered despite these challenges and completed a Bible History elective course in the 2019-2020 academic year. Of the 20,000 students in the county who had access to Bible History, 24% took and completed a course.

Board Chairman Mr. Tom Glenn stated: “For 99 years, Bible in the Schools has provided public school students with the free gift of Bible History elective courses at no cost to taxpayers. It is an honor to present this gift to our public schools, as it represents the generosity of so many people’s hearts across Hamilton County. We are excited about the upcoming school year as we add Bible programs at Tyner Middle Academy and East Hamilton Middle School. For the 2020-2021 academic year, Bible History courses will be offered in 28 participating schools throughout Hamilton County. Our goal is to give every middle and high school student the opportunity to study the Bible at school if they so choose.” 

President Mrs. Cathy Scott said, “This community gift for Bible History elective courses, given through Bible in the Schools, represents a generous community that understands the enduring value that studying the Bible can have in the lives of students in our public schools. We believe Bible History is a critical component to a well-rounded education. It awakens students to the rich, cultural footprint the Bible has left in global history while offering the hope, values, and life lessons relevant to the tough issues youth face today.

The Hamilton County Schools’ program continues to lead our nation with the largest concentration of public school students in any one school district studying the Bible in 28 schools. We are grateful to provide a text that enriches students with wisdom and knowledge--one that crosses all cultural, socioeconomic, and racial barriers, while still touching lives each day.” 

 These courses are an opportunity for students to have a viewpoint neutral, foundational study of one of the cornerstone texts of world history. Students who study the Bible from a historical and literary perspective become more culturally literate and better equipped to thrive and contribute to a global world. 

 

Entering this 99th year, Bible History courses will be offered in 28 schools and will be taught by 26 highly credentialed teachers in the 2020-2021 academic year. Bible History teachers are hired by school principals and led by a full-time Bible History Program Coordinator. The organization fully funds all taxes, teacher salaries and benefits, year-round costs of teacher professional development, legal training, classroom materials, and Bible textbooks for the courses.

Bible History classes follow guidelines established by a 1980 federal court ruling, which affirmed that the teaching of for-credit Bible History electives in Hamilton County’s public middle and high schools is constitutionally permissible. The Hamilton County Bible History curricular framework is court approved and aligns with the Tennessee Department of Education’s state academic standards.

More information regarding participating schools and courses offered is available at www.bibleintheschools.com.

Please direct any inquiries to info@bibleintheschools.com.