Thursday, October 26, 2006

Is Johnny Reading Islamist Propaganda In School?

When it comes to the study of Islam in public school history classes, some conservatives are worried that children may be receiving biased instruction:
Islam is being taught in the nation's public schools as a religion to be embraced because "organized Islamists have gained control of textbook content," according to an organization that analyzes textbooks.

The American Textbook Council has concluded that the situation is the consequence of "the interplay of determined Islamic political activists, textbook editors, and multiculturally minded social studies curriculum planners."

It has gone so far that correcting the situation now becomes a problem, because "educational publishers and educational organizations have bought into claims propounded by Islamists – and have themselves become agents of misinformation."

That comes from Gilbert T. Sewall, who not only wrote the organization's report on Islam and textbooks, but also generated a response to the flood of criticism he encountered.

William J. Bennetta, author of The Textbook Letter and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, also has documented dozens of instances of advocacy for or against a belief system, and has produced a list of books where the "religion preaching" leaves them "unfit for use."

Indeed, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes even has repeatedly expressed concern about the "privileging of Islam in the United States" and warns the stakes go well beyond 7th-grade texts. His opinion of Houghton Mifflin's "Across the Centuries? Full of "apologetics" and "distortions."

WND recently reported on a case in Oregon, where parent Kendalee Garner objected to having her son being taught Islam, including the memorization of the "Five Pillars" of Islam and dressing up as a Muslim.

That episode followed a U.S. Supreme Court decision just a few weeks ago not to review a lower court's ruling that a similar class requirement in the Byron Union School District in California, where students were instructed to "become Muslims" was "cultural education."
There's much more to read in the whole thing.

In California, the study of Islam has been part of the 7th-grade curriculum for years.

As for Houghton Mifflin's Across the Centuries, it's one of several texts commonly used throughout the state.

I didn't find it particularly "apologetic" in its treatment of Islam, although it did go out of its way to explain the concept of jihad.
See our latest EduPosts here and this date's Extra Credit Reading there.