As reported here last week, a textbook used in seventh-grade history classes at Norwin Middle School lies about the history of Islam and Christianity, according to a local pastor, Rev. Bruce Leonatti, of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. He typed a 17-page report and presented it to the Norwin School District, saying that the book — myWorld History Early Ages — promotes Islam over Christianity and Judiasm, and that it is historically inaccurate.
MSNBC (H/T Susan K) Norwin administrators disagree and believe the textbook neither promotes Islam nor denigrates Christians. Spokesman Jonathan Szish said the district reviewed the book and found it suitable for the classroom. They added that the instruction is presented in an unbiased manner.
The Administration asked a second pastor, Rev. Dr. Clifton J. Suehr, Pastor of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Irwin and President of the Norwin Ministerium, to review the textbook on a volunteer basis. Dr. Suehr wrote that he found the textbook to be ‘well suited for middle school aged youth’ with the information presented in an even-handed manner.”
What is the District’s stance on the textbook? After a comprehensive review process, the District has concluded that the textbook is a suitable resource for instruction. Instruction is presented in an unbiased manner and meets all state and local academic standards.
What is the District’s response to the Pastor’s claims as reported in the Tribune-Review? The Administration does not believe that the textbook promotes Islam over Christianity and Judaism and the Administration does not believe the textbook denigrates Christians, as the pastor has stated. There is no conflict of interest regarding the selection of the independent textbook reviewer, as the pastor has stated. The independent reviewer – the Rev. Dr. Clifton J. Suehr, Pastor of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Irwin – was chosen on a volunteer basis because he is President of the Norwin Ministerium, represents the greater Christian community, and has outstanding credentials. These credentials include a Doctor of Ministry degree, a Master of Education degree, and a Master of Divinity degree.
Generally, what goes into the decision-making process when the District chooses textbooks? Norwin Board Policy 108 (Textbooks and Materials Adoption and Use) and its related Procedure 108 govern textbook adoption at Norwin. These were followed during the adoption of myWorld History: Early Ages. (These textbooks are funded by the Saudi Government)