Several of you sent me e-mails asking that we discuss the father in Cobb who complained that a middle school assignment promoted the Muslim faith and polygamy without balance or context. The story was reported by WSB-TV/Channel 2’s Tom Regan.
The materials were part of a larger assignment on the benefits and detriments of the school’s dress code, according to WSB. When I make classroom presentations on writing editorials, I often ask students to debate school dress codes. It’s a topic that resonates with them, and I give them supporting materials on both sides of the question. But I have never handed out anything that referenced burqas or polygamy.
Cobb says the lesson came from the state, so I will ask DOE for clarification once I return to work tomorrow. I think there must be some missing details here.
The assignment went home with seventh-graders at Campbell Middle School. The school told Regan the assignment was used to compare the pros and cons of the school’s dress policy. But one parent said he thinks the material shows bias toward Islam and is completely inappropriate for the kids.
“Trying to relate this to school uniforms, the context they put it into, doesn’t make much sense to me,” parent Hal Medlin said.
Medlin showed Regan the assignment brought home by his 13-year-old daughter. The assignment consisted of a letter from Ahlima, a 20-year-old Muslim woman, and touts the advantage of a wearing a burqa and finds the way western women dress to be “horribly immodest,” according to the assignment.
The assignment shows Ahlima saying she doesn’t mind if her future husband takes more wives. “I understand that some Westerners condemn our practice of polygamy, but I also know they are wrong,” the assignment said.
“It’s promoting or positively depicting their belief that polygamy is fine, if that’s what they believe. But I don’t know how you could possibly state that and not have any kind of disclaimer that this is what these people think, but not necessarily what all of us believe,” Medlin said.
Another page of the assignment lists the seven conditions for women’s dress in Islam, including:
-It cannot resemble the clothing of non-believing women
-It must protect women from the lustful gaze of men
“It represents Islam in a positive manner. That doesn’t offend me as much as the fact that it represents no other religions,” Medlin said. “To me, this material is being used the way it’s used is like tearing a page out of text book and saying here’s the whole story.”
On Friday afternoon, Regan got an email statement from a Cobb Schools saying the school district didn’t create the materials, they were provided by the state. The representative went on to say, “The district will review the material in question and determine if it can be taught in a more balance way or if it should no longer be used.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog