CALIFORNIA public school preaching Islam in the classroom. ACLU nowhere to be found.

When Dawn Kingsley’s seventh-grade daughter came home from school last week with a class project to diorama the five pillars of the Muslim faith, Kingsley was speechless. Religion has no place in public schools, she thought. A former educator herself, she remembered being forbidden from discussing religion with her students—so how is it OK to teach about Islam in seventh-grade history?

News Review  “What happened to the separation of church and state?” she asked. Teaching religion in public schools is always a sensitive issue. But there’s a difference between teaching students to favor one religion over another or teaching them solely about certain religions and not others and teaching about how religion fits in with history. “Teaching about the different types of religion isn’t against the law. You just can’t teach to favor one religion over another,” explained John Bohannon, director of alternative education at Chico Unified School District and a former middle-school principal.

Upon seeing her daughter’s project on the five pillars of Islam, Kingsley became upset and called the school to get a copy of the class curriculum. It’s inappropriate to be teaching her daughter about such specifics of the Muslim faith, she said.

“They’re teaching about how they prayed and who they prayed to. They’re teaching about the Quran,” said Kingsley, whose daughter attends Bidwell Junior High School. “I don’t see her coming home with projects on the Ten Commandments, or learning about Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons.”

If they’re going to discuss religion in the classroom, they should discuss all religions equally, she argued. That means minority as well as majority religions.

Looking only at the Chico Unified School District’s curriculum guidelines for seventh-grade history, her point can be seen fairly clearly. The class, which covers world history and geography in medieval and early modern times, spans Europe, Africa and Asia from the years 500-1789. Sections include the Roman Empire, China in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Reformation and Scientific Revolution. And Islam.

While many of the sections claim to cover religion, when you read the description of individual chapters, religions are merely mentioned. Example: In the section on medieval Europe, there’s a chapter discussing “the causes and course of the religious Crusades and their effects on the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations in Europe ….” In contrast, one of the two sections on Islam calls for teachers to “Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad ….”

When you ask CUSD officials about the content of the seventh-grade history class, however, they say they’re just following state guidelines. And that does seem to be the case.

CUSD created its guidelines based on the state standards—i.e., what the state deems most important and what students will ultimately be tested on. Based on time constraints, schools can’t teach everything included in the state standards, so school districts choose which sections and chapters to emphasize. Only two chapters from the state’s six regarding Islam are included in CUSD’s curriculum. They happen to focus on the religion more than Muslim society and politics.

“Our students are being held accountable,” said Bohannon, referring to the test they will take in the eighth grade covering everything they learned in history over the past three years. “We want to make sure we’re emphasizing what the state is emphasizing.”

Bohannon did not have a hand in putting together the curriculum in question, but he pointed to a state document highlighting the emphasis that that eighth-grade test puts on each section and chapter in the state’s standards as a likely starting point. Indeed, more emphasis is put on the two chapters on Islam included in CUSD’s curriculum than the four omitted from the state standards.

While CUSD does not have a standard sixth-grade history curriculum available on its website, a look at the state standards and which of those standards are emphasized on the eighth-grade history test indicates that sixth-graders in CUSD should be learning about the fundamentals of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism. “It’s a progressive curriculum,” explained Judi Roth, principal at Bidwell Junior High. So, what the students learn in seventh grade builds on what they learned in sixth.

Kingsley said she would be bringing her concerns to the school district, and that she’d already contacted agencies such as the Anti-Defamation League and California Watch to look into whether the religious aspects of the curriculum being taught at CUSD are appropriate. As for Bohannon, he’s dealt with upset parents before, but he stands by the district’s choices.

“The study of religions is always controversial, but I think understanding its impact on our society is important,” Bohannon said. “It’s hard to teach history without teaching how religion impacted the different time periods in history.”

U.S. Public School students celebrate Muslim holiday of EID.

 

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8 comments on “CALIFORNIA public school preaching Islam in the classroom. ACLU nowhere to be found.

  1. Its simple. Make it a choice for the parents. Some won’t mind 5,6,7 or however many weeks of Islam and some don’t feel their American children need to know all that much. I myself don’t want my child having to repeat Muslim prayers and learning their teachings. Give me an option. That’s what America is all about right? Having this taught in the curriculum is removing our choice and that will never feel right in America. However hard they try :p

  2. That does seem too long to talk about one time in history. Well, thus is why the people are in power. So, just educate everyone about this and have it re written equally. Facts though, every religon has a dark side. We need to know about it. Religin is suppose to separate from state, and it’s starting to finally happen. We’ve be kinda brainwashed by Christianity. But, historically it’s bc mainly Christians came over seas. Well, my America is hopefully turning in to a constitutional republic and equal rights.

      • I’m pretty sure the president in which I’m assuming your addressing isn’t a Muslim, and it’ll only be destroyed if we keep BSing around on the internet. If you want to stop all this stupidity, which really isn’t that bad, start with your neibours and further by helping and educating our local communities with out judging who they are. In fact, we should in courage everyone of age to try running for president in 2016. When you forget that we the people are the bosses of this nation that’s when we go down. So never give up.

  3. I am not religious and am open-minded and tolerant of all faiths and I do recognize that in teaching world history one must have an understanding of culture and religious practices of the people and time you are studying. Having said that, I have a 7th grader in a California public middle school who is now in his 4th week of the Islammic World Unit and it looks like it will take another 2 weeks before he completes it and moves forward to West Africa. 7 weeks strikes me as an inordinate amount of time to spend on this one unit, but that is what has been done and about half of the time and text has been devoted to learning the tenants and history of the Islamic religion with the remainder covering the history of the Muslim World. While there was a short chapter on the role the Roman Catholic Church played in Medieval Europe and ditto for the Eastern Orthodox in the Byzantine Empire, the amount of space devoted to Islam is quite a bit longer. I don’t think the State is trying to indoctinate anyone but I do think it is too much and if the goal is to enlighten students about what is going on today I don’t think a World History Class is the right venue. In addition, if that is the goal, perhaps a short chapter should be added to the text on the history of Judaism? But then the text may really start looking like a World Religion Class (something usually offered in college) and not a history class?

  4. This woman is despicable. I am a teacher and we are learning about the spread of Islam in my world history classroom. So sorry that we are not teaching the same shit about Christianity and I’m so sorry that learning about a forgotten religion that is extremely important in today’s age is inappropriate.

    • So, you are all over this to back Islam, making a point to use the word S— when describing Christianity. So glad my kid will be getting nowhere near you. You are worse than a “useful Idiot” – you are one paid by our tax dollars. No kid is safe in this indoctrination you spew. I hope this mom takes you guys to the cleaners.

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