In a letter to school superintendents, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth expressed strong support for integrating Bible-based, character-focused education in public schools.
Ainsworth’s endorsement of LifeWise Academy, a national leader in this area, comes on the first day of School Choice week, a week of advocacy to encourage families to discover the traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and home education options available for their children.
Ainsworth marked the day in a post first thing Monday morning:
It’s School Choice week, and it’s time for real school choice in Alabama. Parents know what’s best for their child, and I will fight for families to have as many options as possible—public schools, charter schools, private schools, or home schooling. Alabama students come first. pic.twitter.com/I4mENUB2jn
— Will Ainsworth (@willainsworthAL) January 22, 2024
LifeWise Academy, currently operational in over 340 schools across 15 states, offers “released time” programs, allowing students to voluntarily engage in religious instruction during school hours at an off-campus location with parental consent. Funded entirely through private donations, these programs incur no costs to schools or parents.
“In addition to developing their learning abilities and intellect, schools have a responsibility to help develop a child’s character by teaching them right from wrong and setting good examples,” Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News.
“When the instruction is rooted in biblical teachings, the moral lessons become exponentially more effective. Parents should have the ability to enroll their children in elective, Bible-based character development instruction, and I am encouraging all superintendents to offer that option.”
In the letter from Ainsworth to superintendents, he promotes the initiative in alignment with schools’ responsibility to assist in character development. He underscored the role of schools in teaching students right from wrong and setting good examples.
The Lt. Governor’s letter laid out the benefits reported by schools from LifeWise Academy programs, including mental health improvements, academic performance enhancements, increased attendance, and decreased disciplinary issues. He cited an independent study supporting these claims and notes significant satisfaction among educators and parents involved with the program.
Each LifeWise lesson reviews a Bible passage, focusing on traits like respect, responsibility, or courage, and encourages practical application in various life aspects.
Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1952 affirmation of released time programs in Zorach v. Clauson, Ainsworth argues these initiatives simply follow American traditions.
He referenced the Alabama Released Time Credit Act and the model policy developed by the Alabama State Department of Education for local education authorities.
“LifeWise is a proven, reputable partner that will help you provide students with a solid education foundation and strong moral character,” Ainsworth writes in the letter.
“I invite you to consider participating in conversations with community leaders and parents as they explore the possibility of offering LifeWise programs in your district.”
Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270