I am a parent of a student at Stevens Creek Elementary. It was formerly known locally as a fine grade school. Now it is more widely known as a political vehicle in a modern test of the principle of separation of church and state. It's a target of opportunity for people with a political agenda, American jihadists one might call them.
Anyone who honestly thinks this is part of a debate about free speech is naive. Steven Williams, or more accurately, his political allies, claims his free speech rights were violated. Mr. Williams, a Christian, was prevented from using in his classroom such gospel tracts as "What Great Leaders Have Said About the Bible." If police had prevented Mr. Williams from handing out the same tract on a street corner, I'd be the first to come to his defense. When his supervisor tells him to stick to the approved curriculum and omit the gospel tracts, that is entirely another matter. This is just a garden variety workplace policy issue, a waste of a court's time and the school district's attorney fees.
Is religion a fit topic for a history lesson? Undoubtedly. If a school district made a compelling case for including a comparative religions course in the curriculum, I wouldn't object. But how is an understanding of history improved by providing selected favorable comments about one religion, especially when the comments were made by officials elected by members of that very religion? If I want my children to have a one-sided presentation of religion, I can do that myself at home or send them to a church, synagogue, mosque or parochial school.
So what is the real issue and what is the harm? Mr. Williams' involvement of hardcore professional political operatives in a school personnel matter is the best indicator of his true intent. The Constitutional separation of church and state is under a well organized and heavily funded assault. This is harder to see, because it is not a frontal assault. The people Mr. Williams has called in as allies are attacking the flank of the issue by attempting to break down the separation of church and public schools. If Mr. Williams is somehow unable to grasp these essential facts, then he is a dupe, but not blameless.
Attacking a major tenet of the US Constitution is, of course, the political privilege of rightwing religious zealots. But Mr. Williams has chosen to make my child's school a battleground -- thankfully only metaphorically for now. Let's all hope that the matter is contained as a merely a headache and time sink for Cupertino Union Schools staff and the Santa Clara Sheriff's Department. Religiously-tinged political issues attract crazies from the fringe. Aggressively using the school as a public focal point shows a callous disregard for the safety of the staff and students of Steven Creek Elementary. How Christ-like is that?