Ehrlich Disputes Limit on Religion; Thanksgiving Lessons at Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Redding Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that the state does not bar teachers from addressing the religious aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday, taking issue with a recent report by the Capital News Service.

"It simply was a misreport," Mr. Ehrlich said during an interview on WTOP Radio. "That is not the case. ... It is not the policy of the state of Maryland."

The Capital News Service article - which The Washington Times ran on its front page on Tuesday - reported that public-school systems across Maryland have avoided teaching students that the Pilgrims repeatedly thanked God during their Thanksgiving celebration.

The article also quoted school administrators from several counties who said they do not include religious matter in their curriculums. None of the persons quoted said the state had directed the schools to exclude the teaching of religion.

However, Mr. Ehrlich criticized the article, saying it reported that the state has set the local school districts' curriculums.

"I have checked with my education folks [and] that is not accurate at all," the Republican governor said. "Obviously, curric- ulum issues are local in nature. Local school boards have a lot of input in curriculum issues."

The article has received national attention because of prominent mentions on CNN and conservative radio talk shows.

Steve Crane, the Capital News Service's Washington bureau director, said he stands by the story.

"It's correct, if you read the story. It is about the balancing act public schools have to perform when they teach about a holiday like Thanksgiving," Mr. Crane said. "I understand there has been a lot of chatter about it from people. …