Cobb controversy over “Islamizing” of public school curriculum escalates

There is a storm brewing over the polygamy/Islam component of a Georgia social studies script that I wrote about earlier today. I have sent DOE an e-mail asking for a statement because the controversy, which began with one father’s concerns, is mounting as bloggers take up arms against the presentation of polygamy in a middle school lesson. No word yet from DOE.

Their complaint is that the lesson praising the quality of life for women under Shariah or Islamic law and behind the veil in the form of a cheery letter from a young Muslim woman fails to present any counterbalance. Blogger Pamela Geller posts the actual lesson here on her Atlas Shrugs blog.

Meanwhile, Marietta Daily Journal columnist Laura Armstrong addresses the issue in her  piece on “‘Islamizing’ America’s public school curriculum.” Here is an excerpt, but you can read her full piece here.

The controversy began last week, when the MDJ broke the story of a Campbell Middle School parent going public, questioning a lesson linking Middle Eastern culture with the school’s dress code. The seventh grade teacher involved used a portion of a lesson that seemed to promote Islam. School officials responding to the parent’s complaint told education writer Lindsay Field that they had looked at the lesson and re-evaluated its appropriateness and context.

“The dad was correct,” Area Superintendent Dale Gaddis explained. “Since then, we’ve decided to select better materials. The issues that we had, we actually took care of. We worked with the teacher … and with our curriculum folks to verify the material and how it should be used.”

But instead of putting the issue to rest, the red flags did not stop unfurling around the blogosphere among people concerned about creeping shariah, stealth jihad and encroachment of Islamic tenets into America’s public schools. The supplemental materials in question, created by Roswell-based InspirEd Educators, Inc., were copyrighted, and the MDJ reprinted some short excerpts with permission. But it was the intrepid freedom fighter Pamela Geller who found more on the Henry County school district’s website and re-posted for her national audience.

Meanwhile, “My name is Ahlima” was the lesson our kids were assigned. Written in a narrative style reminiscent of the popular American Girl doll stories, Ahlima is a fictional, 20-year-old woman who loves life under the abuyah (black veil) and promotes a rosy and incomplete picture of life as an Islamic woman to our impressionable seventh-graders. Her words go far beyond fashion advice or culture. Ahlima feels safe under Shariah law and lectures well on its virtues — but forgets its evils.

To be sure, Ahlima’s disrespect for Western women is apparent to adults. The character brags about her upcoming marriage (she’ll be the second wife, as though seventh-graders really get that) and promotes Islamic polygamy “because the prophet was trying to raise women up. He was very loving to women when many other men in his day were not.”

There’s a lot more, and CCSD spokesman Jay Dillon did confirm that the lesson in question is being used in other districts around Georgia. He also reminded me that Cobb parents had the opportunity to review the supplemental materials, the same way we can review textbooks. Which leads me back to our lone parent whistle blower. What a service he’s done for us all.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

96 comments Add your comment

Tina Trent

September 27th, 2011
10:03 am

Again, it’s not just parents who can review textbooks. Anyone can review textbooks. Every state taxpayer — and frankly all federal ones, too — are paying for these materials. School policy is not limited to parents of current students.

I think it’s very important not to pretend as if this is some isolated incident. Take a look at this stuff masquerading as “syllabi”:

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/25_04/25_04_weiss.shtml

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/25_04/25_04_lyman.shtml

Sound extreme (unhinged)? Thousands of educators, including many in Georgia, use this site and others like it to to produce ideology-drenched “lessons” for children. Meanwhile, PBS is still using our tax dollars to churn out emotionally coercive, politicized and biased lesson plans every week, and these are being brought into classrooms by teachers throughout Georgia.

[...] Cobb controversy over “Islamizing” of public school curriculum escalatesAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)There is a storm brewing over the polygamy/Islam component of a Georgia social studies script that I wrote about earlier today. I have sent DOE an e-mail asking for a statement because the controversy, which began with one father's concerns, …Georgia middle schoolers learn 'positives' of Sharia lawExaminer.comMan Accuses Daughter's Homework of Promoting IslamGawkerGa. Dad: 7th-Grade Homework Promotes IslamNewsMax.comBig Government -Bikya Masr -Fox Newsall 12 news articles » [...]

Dunwoody Mom

September 27th, 2011
10:18 am

Hey, raise your hand if you watch “Sister Wives” on TLC????? The show gets big ratings. Is that okay because they are “American”?

Fled

September 27th, 2011
10:19 am

As usual, if there is a way to come across looking like fools, the people of Georgia will find it. Maureen, you are doing a real service because whenever I feel the slightest tinge of regret at having given up on education in Georgia, you post something that reminds me why I left.

I’m sorry that middle schoolers in Georgia are not sharp enough to read critically. Maybe they were never taught such skills in the constant barrage of test prep that substitutes for education in that poor benighted place.

I always be grateful that my children are far, far away from people who think like this reactionary parent. People in the rest of the world are carrying on with their traditions in their own ways, and they really are not concerned with what you think too much (at least until you start raining down bombs in the name of freedom). My children have friends from many different cultures, including Islam (no republicans, fortunately). They are receiving a world-class education, and they know how to read critically. What are your kids learning through this latest exercise in stupidity and intolerance?

Had enough yet Georgia teachers? Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

Me

September 27th, 2011
10:29 am

Sure, parents and taxpayers have the right to review textbooks, etc., but what brain-dead Cobb County board member, principal, or whatever, made the decision to even allow this?

Van Jones

September 27th, 2011
10:42 am

Fled, and yet you go to the AJC website, read the blogs and comment. Feel superior yet?

Fully versed

September 27th, 2011
10:49 am

Fled, if you think we’re so backwards, why are you reading? Stay away. If you see intolerance, you’ve lost your mind. Intolerant are Muslims, who persecute and murder gay people around the world, poison the wells in Africa of those who will not convert, or hack them to death with machetes! Have you seen limb removals in Saudi Arabia, or stonings in Afghanistan? Have you seen a 75 year old woman caned for not having her male escort with her at all times? How can you say we are the intolerant ones? I have friends from the middle east as well, and all of them believe Americans are naive to the cruelties that exist at complete odds with the protections we take for granted under the U.S. Constitution. Shari’a law is the goal of much of Islam. Right now, you have the freedom to “flee” as you say, because you live in a free country. I’m assuming you’re female, and I’d love to see you try to exert your independence in a Muslim country. Get versed. Stop being so naive. And stop bragging about your kids and their “world class” education. We don’t really care.

hnbc

September 27th, 2011
10:57 am

It seems to me there are a lot of lost opportunities to discuss what is real, perceived as real, and how to distinguish between all these various sides. A letter such as described here could certainly be used as a basis of discussion of differences amongst people, cultures, lifestyles, choices or lack of choices, individual freedom and the responsibility that goes along with that freedom and learning to accept that other cultures have as much validity as our culture does. Such a shame to waste an opportunity like this by focusing on an individual’s aversion who then riles up everyone else who does not think for themselves which is another lost opportunity, too.

steve brown

September 27th, 2011
11:00 am

Have our educators lost their minds. Perhaps Hitler should be taught through the sweet writings and eyes of Eva Braun. We need to wake the hell up and do something about the education system in this country that is under educating our students and thereby undermining the freedoms that the men and women of this country who came before us have given their lives for.

Paulo977

September 27th, 2011
11:01 am

Fled

“I’m sorry that middle schoolers in Georgia are not sharp enough to read critically. Maybe they were never taught such skills in the constant barrage of test prep that substitutes for education in that poor benighted place.”

You are absolutely correct . BTW let us not blame the teachers for this …. the powers that be have created this climate of “thoughtlessness” …. Just make sure kids bubble in right answers to test questions !!

joe

September 27th, 2011
11:05 am

“the quality of life for women under Shariah or Islamic law”…is very very very low…pretty much they have no freedoms of any kind under these types of laws. For that reason alone, every liberal and women’s group out there should be against this…but to their discredit, we hear no condemnation from them.

used to teach

September 27th, 2011
11:07 am

Most curriculum is biased one way or the other.
The Puritans have gotten a bad rap in literature and history forever. Read the original sources on anything and you will get the truth.

catlady

September 27th, 2011
11:07 am

There is someone mad in Cobb all the time about something they don’t think is fair to their way of thinking.

Lori

September 27th, 2011
11:07 am

You guys didn’t read the article. Seems to me the main problem with the lesson was that it was unbalanced. They didn’t offer an opposing position or explain the negatives of such laws against women. Children need to be taught other cultures, but they need to be taught a fair and balanced history of those cultures, not just the rosy parts!

Muhammad Speaks

September 27th, 2011
11:14 am

Leave Me Alone!

I am seventy-eight year old man and can’t wait to get up there with all those virgins in the sky. If you want to believe that someone arose from the dead or walked on water, so be it.

Let Me Have My Beliefs in Peace!

ND

September 27th, 2011
11:15 am

Get religion out of the public schools, period, whether it’s Islam, Christianity, or anything else.

V for Vendetta

September 27th, 2011
11:15 am

Islam is a disgusting a oppressive belief system.

So is Christianity.

Remove them both–totally–from all public schools.

The end.

Looking at both sides

September 27th, 2011
11:20 am

I believe this to be the standard in question.

SS7G8 The student will describe the diverse cultures of the people who live in Southwest Asia (Middle East).
a. Explain the differences between an ethnic group and a religious group.
b. Explain the diversity of religions within the Arabs, Persians, and Kurds.
c. Compare and contrast the prominent religions in Southwest Asia (Middle East): Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
d. Explain the reason for the division between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
e. Evaluate how the literacy rate affects the standard of living.Teachers are bound by the standards to teach what is there.

You want teachers to teach beyond the standards and when they do they get bashed. Make up your mind! The teacher missed a perfect opportunity to present other sources of opinion (which is what the letter is). However, unless the teacher has the time to search for alternative opinions then it likely other sources will not be introduced. County curriculum specialists should work to provide additional resources to help balance the approach.
Another alternative would to allow the students to search for other opinions about sharia law and the lives of women in the Islamic world. Social Studies is about balance but it does take alot of effort to achieve it.

Laurie

September 27th, 2011
11:23 am

Everyone is missing the point of what this teacher was ultimately trying to do, which is show that respect of another person’s culture is not comfortable, but must be the goal when trying to practice religious and cultural tolerance. If we can’t do that, there is no chance for our societies to live in peace.

Parisa

September 27th, 2011
11:24 am

Schools should not promote any point of view. Schools should provide knowledge and encourage children to form their own opinions and point of view. Education is supposed to broaden the mind. Indoctrination molds the mind. Government funded schools should educate not indoctrinate.

Mosell

September 27th, 2011
11:28 am

Hello Fled.

Its obvious you didn’t read the original article or see the interview on TV. The parent wasn’t as much critical about the “Letter from …” being part of the lesson. He was more critical of the fact an opposing view was presented as well. How else would critical thinking occur if you didn’t have two views to ponder and think about. Also, his complaint is about presenting only part of the picture.

So, Fled I glad you did. Flee away Flee away. That’s how problems get solved just run away from them.

Sk8ing Momma

September 27th, 2011
11:30 am

IMO, I don’t see the big deal. (Btw, I’m a unashamed believer of Jesus Christ.) Upon reading the fictional narrative and the following questions, it appears that it is an exercise in critical thinking (albeit a poor one, IMO). The narrative clearly states at the end of the first paragraph that it is merely an *opinion* and asks students to develop their own.

Rather than getting their panties in a wad over this assignment it should serve as a reminder to parents of the importance of imparting their beliefs/values to their children. In addition, it should serve as a reminder to parents that they need to dialogue with their children regarding the beliefs and values that they deem important. Yes, children will eventually develop their own beliefs and values (as they should) as they mature; however, while they are at home they should be taught their family’s values/beliefs while under their parents’ leadership/authority.

V for Vendetta

September 27th, 2011
11:31 am

Maureen,

On a side note, I have found that a “Fields of Faith” will take place at Parkview high school in Lilburn on October 12th at 6:30pm. I would encourage you to come out and witness something that I feel crosses the line between what is appropriate and what isn’t. It is sponsored under the guise of FCA.

Maureen Downey

September 27th, 2011
11:32 am

@Laurie, I agree. I have two middle schoolers. They are 12, but they would be able to read this letter and ask pertinent questions. For me, the question should be how this was presented. I don’t think it makes sense if the lesson is whether school dress codes are relevant or helpful, but it certainly makes sense if the lesson is cultural differences in dress.
I moderated a panel a few years ago where a professor from the Middle East talked about the American point of view that the veil oppressed Muslim women. She noted that she was dismayed by the comments made to young college women in America by men passing on the streets and from cars. She found that oppressive.
To be clear, I don’t agree with veiling women, but the topic could lead to some great discussion in middle school about culture and young women. A young woman who attends GSU recently told me that she changed her bike riding route to school because she passed a construction site every day where the workers made sexual comments as she passed.
So, there are real-life lessons that this lesson could inspire. (Tina, I would be interested in what you think about this element.)
Maureen

Maureen Downey

September 27th, 2011
11:33 am

@V, Thanks. I would like to do that.
Maureen

Donna P.

September 27th, 2011
11:35 am

Why would anyone want their children to read this crap? Suppressing women is not a “good read”. Whoever thought that this would be a good idea to bring into a Cobb school is a ridiculous person and probably a man.

batgirl

September 27th, 2011
11:44 am

I agree that this is pretty shocking, but has anyone checked to see if the teacher actually tried to present a balanced picture?

Remember, this is the same system that placed stickers stating that evolution was just a theory in biology books a few years ago. I suppose if someone taught that Jesus turned the water to wine, these parents would be fine with it.

I don’t agree that teaching about religion should be left out of schools. However, it should be done in a neutral way with no proseletyzing. It is interesting to me, though, that children (most of whom are probably Christian) are expected to learn so much about the differences among Muslims when most don’t even know the basics of their own religions. Several years ago, when one of my nephews was in high school, they were discussing religion in a history class. The teacher asked them to raise their hands if they were Protestant. Only my nephew and a couple of others raised their hands. He told a friend that she should raise her hand. Her reply was that she wasn’t Protestant, she was Baptist. Then there are those who think Catholics are not Christians and don’t have a clue what Lutherans and Episcopalians are. I think that religious literacy would not be a bad thing to be taught.

gamom

September 27th, 2011
11:44 am

there is a reason for the separation of church and state. Just over the line in Alabama, people under a new law will be sentenced to church as opposed to going to jail. How that works with our constitution I will never understand. I hope some lame brain politician doesn’t try to introduce that measure here.

Edward

September 27th, 2011
11:47 am

Religion is like a penis. It is fine to have one. It is fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and wave it around, and please don’t try to shove it down the throat of children.

Good Grief

September 27th, 2011
11:59 am

Being tolerant, politically correct, and embracing other cultures and religions have all caused the US of America to turn into a toxic waste dump. This country is on the road to being blown off the globe, but yet will be nice to our enemies and let them spit on us to the bitter end. Why bother caring about your kids’ education when they won’t be around to use it!

Give me a break!

September 27th, 2011
12:00 pm

By them teaching this is no different than them teaching the foolishness of evolution!

Smoke Rise Mom

September 27th, 2011
12:00 pm

Does a teacher really have to present a balanced view to this? I wouldn’t have any problem with my 6th grade daughter reading this and answering the questions. She is equipped to provide her own balanced view. And I expect most tween-agers in our society could handle it as well. There really isn’t any danger that lessons like this are going to convert our children from beliefs we’ve taught them. And it doesn’t hurt them to understand there are those whose truths are different from ours.

Texas Pete

September 27th, 2011
12:19 pm

Agreed Smoke Rise Mom.

Isn’t the counterbalance the students’ personal experience of the topic? I mean the whole point of any education is to expose a student to something they might know already know about. Teaching someone about theft may or may not influence them to decide to go out and commit theft themselves, right? It’s the same old tired “if we expose our kids to this topic they will take up the practice regardless of their upbringing.”

Opinionanted

September 27th, 2011
12:21 pm

There is nothing wrong with presenting children with what is out there in the world. And the whole world wonders why we are some dumb sometimes. All you hear is “leave this out, leave that out, school shouldn’t be teaching this or that” children are sheltered from birth to high school, and parents are not involved enough in a kids life to guide them the right way. There is nothing wrong with them having that information. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to knowing what goes on in the world. Do you think that by not teaching them about Islam is going to keep them from knowing about it? Wouldn’t you rather teach them in an environment where you as a parent have a say and can contribute to? Let them learn, ask you questions, and if they don’t ask you, why don’t you ask them, and start a conversation. There are so many topics out there that parents don’t discuss with their kids, that’s why there have been so many campaigns to get parents to be active in their children’s lived. Why would this be any different? Are you that unsure in the beliefs that you have taught your children that a simple lesson in school would all of a sudden convert them to Islam? Wake up people and become parents instead of being too pre-occupied with everything else. And by the way, i am a parent of 3 kids, 2 of them well in school and i make it a point to discuss everything from God to sports and everything in between with my kids, at least they know that they can talk to me and i am willing to teach them everything no matter what other ignorant people may think.

East meets West

September 27th, 2011
12:26 pm

Rather than teach divisiveness, they can teach the commonalities of our society and Sharia law, by playing Bob Dylan’s “Everybody Must Get Stoned.”

That is what the song was about, isn’t it? Good moral values and upholding them.

carlosgvv

September 27th, 2011
12:30 pm

Many of us on various blogs have expressed deep concerns about “creeping shariah. stealth jihad and encroachment of Islamic tenets into America’s public shcools”. For our troubles we’ve been called crazy, stupid, morons and paranoid. Looks like we were right all along. I wonder how long it will take the politically correct to see what is really happening.

Disturbed all the way around

September 27th, 2011
12:31 pm

Why is the State Department of Education even mentioned in this? This does not appear on their frameworks page with sample lessons. Did Cobb or a single teacher get this from a private company? Misinformation or silly investigative trails like “Georgia social studies script” leads to big blow-ups of wrong information. There’s not a state script; it’s Georgia, only the school system can force teachers to do dumb things in the name of “local autonomy.” Way to go AJC, keeping the ignorant of Georgia wallowing in their own misinformed filth for another generation!

catlady

September 27th, 2011
12:33 pm

Many of the respondents may not be ready for the critical thinking expected of middle schoolers.

In support of Fled

September 27th, 2011
12:39 pm

Fled, and yet you go to the AJC website, read the blogs and comment. Feel superior yet?

How could Fled NOT feel superior, for making the superior choice of fleeing the cesspool that has become education in Georgia?

Maybe if more quality teachers like Fled, actually fled, Georgia would finally be compelled to address teaching conditions.

With teaching conditions what they are, heck a head of cabbage would feel superior for staying in the ground and out of the classroom, and that’s even after a cow spilled dung on top of it.

Come to think of it, that’s probably how the average Georgia teacher feels these days, in terms of the respect given them.

Aquagirl

September 27th, 2011
12:40 pm

To be clear, I don’t agree with veiling women, but the topic could lead to some great discussion in middle school about culture and young women

I noticed that too, when I read the entire essay by “Ahlima.” I would hate to be a 12 year old in today’s culture, the pressure to dress like a hottie might make her understand the wish for an abuyah and veil.

main d

September 27th, 2011
12:44 pm

Multiple wives–polygamy
No wife–monogamy
One wife–monotony

mellisa's mom

September 27th, 2011
12:44 pm

Simply put, this is PC BS. We’ve done our best to stomp out any reference to Christianity and now it’s ok to promote Islam?? And yes, the story told by Ahlima does promote Islam. I have no problem with students learning about other cultures, but it should be in the context of a history class.

Paige Blakely

September 27th, 2011
12:45 pm

I would probably agree with this parent if I were an ignorant retard Jesus freak.

Maureen Downey

September 27th, 2011
12:48 pm

@Disturbed, The original story cited the state as the source, and I have asked DOE for comment several hours ago and was told they were working on a response.
I will post when I get it.
Maureen

Paige Blakely

September 27th, 2011
12:48 pm

Many of us unemployed losers on various blogs have expressed deep concerns about “creeping shariah, stealth jihad and encroachment of Islamic tenets into America’s public shcools”. For our troubles we’ve been called crazy, stupid, morons and paranoid. Looks like they were right all along.
I wonder how long it will be before I get arrested for child endangerment?

Inman Park Boy

September 27th, 2011
12:50 pm

Lotta class Paige, lotta class.

mellisa's mom

September 27th, 2011
12:51 pm

Mellisa can’t wait to take all the knowledge I have instilled in her as custodian of her mind and spirit and use to take honorable mention in the wet t-shirt contest in PCB this year.
Go Dawgs!

Head of Cabbage

September 27th, 2011
12:53 pm

I feel superior and I think Edward and East-meets-West are very naughty … and funny. :)

GA Edutarded

September 27th, 2011
12:55 pm

Obviously this is one parent who has his priorities straight.
Georgia is next to last in education. Clearly we are not capable of educatiing children in such a way that will allow them to live a full life that involves world travel or multicultural experience.
They certainly won’t be involved in any sort of multinational business dealings.
Let’s forget the whole book learning thing all together and focus on keeping out foreign influences.
I say replace that text with a book full of pictures of monster trucks!

Principal Skinner

September 27th, 2011
12:55 pm

“Saudi woman to be lashed for defying driving ban”

Such a loving, tolerant religion. And before you libs try to make a Christian parallel, remember,this is an official gov’t decree.