I read a really interesting piece from a writer in New York State in the USA today which details some seriously worrying Islamopandering going on in the schools in that part of America. It seems that the particular school that this worried parent’s child goes to is spending an inordinate amount of time teaching about Islam. Not only that but they are very concerned that what the school is teaching the children about Islam may be false or otherwise dishonest.
Here’s the post from the website New York United For Kids which details the tale told by a parent who has asked to remain anonymous. The New York United For Kids organisation has been set up to challenge the US Federal Government’s ‘Common Core’ educational programme which imposes a National Curriculum which appears to be of a similar sort to that which has failed dismally here in the United Kingdom. The National Curriculum in the UK has failed partially because left-leaning and child-centred educational experts have taken control of it. This has led to a removal of a lot of factual content from curricula and political biases creeping into the subjects that children are being taught. One of the bugbears that I’ve got about modern British schools is that they teach Islam but put a very heavy pro-Islam slant on what is being taught. It seems that Britain is not alone in having educators who appear more interested in pandering to Islam or presenting Islam in a false positive light, than in teaching about Islam honestly. Please note to avoid confusion that all dates given in the piece below are in US format with the month first and then the day of the month. As is usual for this blog the original text is in italics whereas my comments are in plain text.
At the start of the school year (2015/16) I was looking over my kids school books (as I do every year) and I noticed in my daughters global history book ( World History; Patterns of Interaction, 9th grade, New York edition, published by McDougal Littel 2005) that there were several more pages of study on the religion of Islam over all other major religions, therefore a greater focus. I called the district and asked for a meeting. The meeting (on 10/1) was attended by the assistant superintendent of curriculum, high school principal, history department chair, my father and me. They assured us that the book was a secondary source and that there were other primary sources that would be utilized in class. We asked for books prior to classroom instruction and were told it would not be a problem. I waited about a month and called the deptartment chair and was told they hadn’t begun the religious sections yet and he will get the material to me. After waiting several more weeks I called again and was told to go to the teachers webpage and to email the teacher. I told him I was busy and would not be able to reach out to the teacher right away. A week or so later my daughter came home and said they were learning about the religion of Islam and the class was told all three major religions worship the same God. I had a few more phone conversations, and let them know my discontent. We (my father and I)had a phone conference with the teacher and department chair where they stated moving forward they would reach out to me if there were any more religious material being taught.
On 1/19 I received an email stating my daughter’s class would be having a three day guest speaker from the Islamic cultural center come to speak about women in Islam and if I would like to have my child opt out they will make arrangements. I wrote back saying I would like to observe the class instead and have her attend as well and was denied.
Although the reasons given were their concern I would disrupt the class or speaker and that arrangements needed to be made. The principal agreed that I have never behaved in a rude or disrespectful manner. Also, I was only given 22 hours notice and replied within ten minutes that I would like to observe.
I talked with my daughter right after the class ( I stayed even though they didn’t let me in the class) and my daughter said at the start the speaker stated we all worship the same God. They also shared a verse, Quran 5:32 and it was quoted out of context. At the end when my daughter went to thank them, the speaker told her about a You Tube video where they took the Koran and put a Bible cover on it and that people could not tell the difference. To me, that is proselytizing.
So, I do disagree with what was presented. I am never against furthering knowledge but it needs to be truthful. If religion is taught in school all religions need to be equally represented or none at all. As a parent, if I personally disagree with the religious teachings in public school I should be able to discuss it at home with my children but when I don’t know what is taught, I can’t do that.
As parents and taxpayers, the board of education encourages us to come to the schools and observe our students classes. I believe the constitutional right to direct the education of my child was infringed upon. If you feel this way as well and live in _________, NY please come to the next board of education meeting.
As someone who has an interest and a little knowledge of theology I’d be seriously concerned if my child’s school was teaching them that Christians, Jews and Muslims worshipped the same god. This idea falls apart when you look at the moral values that these three religions teach. In my view the values of Islam are so different from those of Judaism and Christianity, that they could only have come from a different source and more likely from a different religious tradition. I refuse to call Islam an Abrahamic religion because it doesn’t act like one or feel like one.
I think that this parent is correct to kick up a fuss about what their child is being taught about Islam. This does indeed look a lot more like proslytising and much less like giving basic impartial information. I believe that children should be taught about what different religions believe, but there is a fine line to walk between teaching them genuine facts, and putting a positive spin on one particular faith namely Islam. I think that the parent featured is also correct to want to know exactly what their child is being taught, especially when it comes to controversial subjects like Islam.
There is one point in this story that absolutely gobsmacks me, not about the story itself, but what it tells me about the differences between the American education system and the British one. This parent was able to have a meeting with senior education staff and a representative of the body that oversees the curriculum. That’s amazing, really amazing, that a parent is able to bring their concerns to the attention of the authorities like that. I understand of course that the authorities are stalling and trying to fob off the parent, but still it shows that parents appear to have an awful lot more power over their children’s education in the USA than they do here. I’m shocked that even though in this case the request was denied, that it is generally acceptable for a parent to sit in on a lesson which their child is in. This is very positive and encourages parents to be ‘active parents’. In the United Kingdom any parent who brought up concerns about Islam being promoted in a school outside of a Religious Education lesson would first be given some specious guff about ‘multiculturalism’. Secondly they would be smeared as a ‘racist’. Thirdly they’d be told to ‘shut up and enjoy the diversity’ and finally they’d be prosecuted and fined if they removed their child from a lesson that the parent vehemently objected to on moral, political or other grounds. A British parent most certainly would not, unless they were very savvy and well connected, be able to get a representative from the Local Education Authority or an elected local Councillor with responsibilities for education to attend a meeting, along with a history specialist and the headteacher.
I think that the NYU4K organisation is right to ask if parents in their State are having similar problems to what this parent is experiencing. If the situation in the USA is anything like that of the UK then where there is one example of school Islamopandering, then there are bound to be others.
I will conclude this piece by wishing NYU4K the very best of luck in countering what looks very much like an attempt by America’s central government to impose a ‘one size fits all’ educational policy on parents who are quite rightly objecting to that being done.
We who are parents all, whether we are British or American, have the right to demand that the schools that we pay for through our taxes, provide a decent and well balanced education for our children. We most certainly have the moral right to challenge schools when they are teaching untruths or half truths about the ideology of Islam.
Here’s the link to the original piece fro NYU4K