It’s only a matter of time. Now Nashville Public Schools are helping Muslim students to retain their Islamic identity by creating Muslim prayer rooms in schools. And doing it at taxpayer expense.
Education Resource Committee for Muslim Students
Per our last update on the meeting with Dr. Register by representatives from Islamic Center of Nashville, Salahadeen Center, Masjid Al-Farooq and Masjid Al-Islam, an official committee has been formed to act as a liason and educational resource for Muslim families and Metro Nashville Public Schools to meet the needs fo students while maintaining their Islamic identity. For more information you may contact any of the centers or Sr. Berthena or Sr. Kasar.
Prayer Accommodations at School
For your children’s interest, accommodations for students taking a few minutes to catch their Dhuhr prayer are available. Please contact your child’s appropriate teacher of that particular period via email (emails can be found on metro’s website, www.mnps.org) and copy your school’s guidance counselor. Your child can also personally request the teacher as well. Letters for prayer arrangements during Ramadan (along with PE and lunch alternatives such as the library) have already been sent to all the schools. Letters for other specific accommodation have been revised and will be sent out. H/T CREEPING SHARIA
Public schools and universities across the country are considering Muslim students’ requests for religious accommodations, including separate rooms where fasting students can go during lunch; places for students to perform daily prayers; the consideration of requests to make Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that ends Ramadan, a school holiday; and the installation of footbaths in restrooms to make it easier for students to follow prayer rituals.
Here are some of the more recent controversies involving religious accommodations of Muslims and other groups in public schools from the elementary to the university level:
- The San Diego Unified School District is under scrutiny after allowing Muslim students at Carver Elementary School 15 minutes a day for prayer. A teacher claimed the students were led in prayer by a school aide, a violation of U.S. Department of Education guidelines. The school is now being monitored by religious and civil rights groups. (See aJuly 2, 2007, San Diego Union-Tribune story.)
- The University of Michigan-Dearborn is steeped in controversy after a decision to use $25,000 in student fees to install footbaths in campus restrooms. The footbaths are seen as an accommodation for Muslim students, who must wash their feet and hands before prayer. The Minneapolis Community and Technical College was bombarded with hate mail when it, too, announced plans to install footbaths. (See an Aug. 29, 2007, Washington Times story.)
- In September the New York City-based Stop the Madrassa coalition announced the launch of a national organization,Citizens for American Values in Public Education. The group’s news release says it will “expand the fight nationwide to stop the imposition of radical Islamist agendas in curricula, Arabic language programs, history classes, textbooks, teacher training, and charter schools,” which the group considers unconstitutional religious accommodation. It says the organization will begin distributing a publication called “Stop the Madrassa: A Citizens Guide to Islamist Curricula in Public Schools” nationally.
- The opening of public schools that cater to Muslim groups has raised questions about religious accommodation and whether public funds should support schools with religious focuses. In New York, the newly opened Khalil Gibran International Academy emphasizes Arabic.
- At the forefront of the push for religious accommodation in public universities is the Muslim Students Association, which has formed a Muslim Accommodations Task Force to push for footbaths and prayer rooms. At least 17 universities have footbaths built or under construction, including Boston University, George Washington University and Temple University, and nine universities have prayer rooms designated exclusively for Muslim students, including Stanford University, Emory University and the University of Virginia.
- In New York City, Muslim groups are seeking the recognition of two Muslim holidays as school holidays. (Read a May 16, 2007, Norwood News article posted by New York State Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr.) Also in New York, in February the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appeals court decision that allows New York City public schools to display a menorah during Hanukkah and a star and crescent during Ramadan, while banning a crèche at Christmastime. (See a Feb. 22, 2007, Christian Science Monitor story posted by the Roundtable on Religion & Social Welfare Policy.)
- There is a growing movement among Muslims to have Eid al-Fitr, the festival which marks the end of Ramadan, recognized as a public school holiday.
- When a Cincinnati-area school set aside a room for Muslim students during lunch periods for Ramadan, a local school board official accused the school of being overly accommodating. (Read a Feb. 11, 2007, Boston Globestory about challenges Muslims face in the “heartland” of America and an Oct. 26, 2006, Cincinnati Enquirer storyabout the Ramadan debate. LINK