Teacher Bans 'God Bless You' in Classroom and Punishes Offenders by Dropping Grades
A health class teacher in Vacaville, CA has barred his students from saying 'God bless you' or "bless you" in class. If a student says these words after a student sneezes, the teacher, Steve Cuckovich, will deduct 25 points from the student's grade. The teacher says this common courtesy is disrespectful and a disruption in class. "It's not got anything to do with religion. It's got to do with an interruption of class time," Cuckovich told FOX40 of Pennsylvania. He went on to say "The blessing doesn't really make sense anymore. When you sneeze in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying, 'God bless you,' for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, what you're doing doesn't really make any sense anymore."
Cuckovich has been criticized for over-stepping his bounds as a teacher infringing on the first amendment rights of the students. By claiming that saying God bless you' makes no sense, he is telling students that their beliefs make no sense, thereby preaching his beliefs and insulting theirs. This is an area where health teacher as no authority. In a situation such as this, a student has no ability to argue with a teacher, especially if the teacher disciplines by lowering grades.
He's also being accused of disciplining the children in the awful manner of marking down points rather than using actual disciplinary measures. Rather than sending children to detention or forcing them to write sentences over and over such as "I will not say God bless you in class", the teacher attacks the child's grades. So, grades are no longer a reflection of the student's work and intelligence, but the result of surviving whatever the teacher deems he can discipline. It's also been supposed that the teacher is choosing to punish kids by the unjust manner of lowering their grades, because using legitimate forms of punishment (such as detention) would be ludicrous and stopped immediately.
Superintendent John Niederkorn of the Vacaville Unified School District says that school district is investigating the incident. Principal Cliff DeGraw says "He realizes there's better ways to do that. We don't condone that type of punishment. What disciplinary actions the teacher will face though, remains to be seen.