Islam in America’s public schools: Education or indoctrination?

Islam in America’s public schools: Education or indoctrination?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

With fatal terrorist attacks on the decline worldwide and al Qaeda apparently in disarray, it would seem a time for optimism in the global war on terrorism. But the war has simply shifted to a different arena. Islamists, or those who believe that Islam is a political and religious system that must dominate all others, are focusing less on the military and more on the ideological. It turns out that Western liberal democracies can be subverted without firing a shot.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the educational realm. Islamists have taken what’s come to be known as the “soft jihad” into America’s classrooms and children in K-12 are the first casualties. Whether it is textbooks, curriculum, classroom exercises, film screenings, speakers or teacher training, public education in America is under assault.

Capitalizing on the post-9/11 demand for Arabic instruction, some public, charter and voucher-funded private schools are inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to implement a religious curriculum. They are also bringing in outside speakers with Islamist ties or sympathies. As a result, not only are children receiving a biased education, but possible violations of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause abound. Consider the following cases:

 Nowhere is this more evident than in the educational realm. Islamists have taken what’s come to be known as the “soft jihad” into America’s classrooms and children in K-12 are the first casualties. Whether it is textbooks, curriculum, classroom exercises, film screenings, speakers or teacher training, public education in America is under assault.

Capitalizing on the post-9/11 demand for Arabic instruction, some public, charter and voucher-funded private schools are inappropriately using taxpayer dollars to implement a religious curriculum. They are also bringing in outside speakers with Islamist ties or sympathies. As a result, not only are children receiving a biased education, but possible violations of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause abound. Consider the following cases:
 
Last month, students at Friendswood Junior High in Houston were required to attend an “Islamic Awareness” presentation during class time allotted for physical education. The presentation involved two representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization with a record of Islamist statements and terrorism convictions. According to students, they were taught that “there is one God, his name is Allah” and that “Adam, Noah and Jesus are prophets.” Students were also taught about the Five Pillars of Islam and how to pray five times a day and wear Islamic religious garb. Parents were not notified about the presentation and it wasn’t until a number of complaints arose that school officials responded with an apologetic e-mail. 
  • Earlier this year at Lake Brantley High School in Seminole County, Fla., speakers from the Academy for Learning Islam gave a presentation to students about “cultural diversity” that extended to a detailed discussion of the Quran and Islam. The school neither screened the ALI speakers nor notified parents. After a number of complaints, local media coverage and a subsequent investigation, the school district apologized for the inappropriate presentation, admitting that it violated the law. Subsequently, ALI was removed from the Seminole County school system’s Dividends and Speaker’s Bureau. 
  • As reported by the Cabinet Press, a school project last year at Amherst Middle School transformed “the quaint colonial town of Amherst, N.H., into a Saudi Arabian Bedouin tent community.” Male and female students were segregated, with the girls hosting “hijab and veil stations” and handing out the oppressive head-to-toe black garment known as the abaya to female guests. Meanwhile, the boys hosted food and Arabic dancing stations because, as explained in the article, “the traditions of Saudi Arabia at this time prevent women from participating in these public roles.” An “Islamic religion station” offered up a prayer rug, verses from the Quran, prayer items and a compass pointed towards Mecca. The fact that female subjugation was presented as a benign cultural practice and Islamic religious rituals were promoted with public funds is cause for concern. 
  • Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a charter school in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., came under recent scrutiny after Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten brought to light concerns about public funding for its overtly religious curriculum. The school is housed in the Muslim American Society‘s (the American branch of the Egyptian Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood) Minnesota building, alongside a mosque, and the daily routine includes prayer, ritual washing, halal food preparation and an after-school “Islamic studies” program. Kersten’s columns prompted the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to issue a press release expressing its own reservations about potential First Amendment violations. An investigation initiated by the Minnesota Department of Education verified several of Kersten’s allegations and the school has since promised to make the appropriate changes. In a bizarre twist, when a local television news crew tried to report on the findings from school grounds, school officials confronted them and wrestled a camera away from one of its photographers, injuring him in the process. 
  • The controversy surrounding the founding of New York City’s Arabic language public school, Khalil Gibran International Academy, last year continues. Former principal Dhabah “Debbie” Almontaser was asked to step down after publicly defending T-shirts produced by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media, an organization with whom she shared office space, emblazoned with “Intifada NYC.” But KGIA has other troublesome associations. Its advisory board includes three imams, one of whom, New York University Imam Khalid Latif, sent a threatening letter to the university’s president regarding a planned display of the Danish cartoons. Another, Shamsi Ali, runs the Jamaica Muslim Center Quranic Memorization School in Queens, a replica of the type of Pakistani madrassa (or school) counter-terrorism officials have been warning about since 9/11. Accordingly, several parents founded Stop the Madrassa: A Community Coalition to voice their contention that KGIA is an inappropriate candidate for taxpayer funding.
  • Equally problematic are the textbooks used in American public schools to teach Islam or Islamic history. Organizations such as Southern California’s Council on Islamic Education and Arabic World and Islamic Resources are tasked with screening and editing these textbooks for public school districts, but questions have been raised about the groups’ scholarship and ideological agenda. The American Textbook Council, an organization that reviews history and social studies textbooks used in American schools, and its director, Gilbert T. Sewall, have produced a series of articles and reports on Islam textbooks and the findings are damning. They include textbooks that are factually inaccurate, misrepresent and in some cases, glorify Islam, or are hostile to other religions. While teaching students about Islam within a religious studies context may be appropriate, the purpose becomes suspect when the texts involved are compromised in this manner.

    Such are the complaints about “History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond,” a textbook published by the Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, to the point where parents in the Scottsdale, Ariz., school district succeeded in having it removed from the curriculum in 2005. TCI is based in Mountain View, and the textbook is now being used in the state’s public schools, where similar concerns have arisen. A Marin County mother whose son has been assigned “History Alive!” has been trying to mount an effort to call school officials’ attention to the problem. Similarly, a San Luis Obispo mother filed an official complaint several years ago with her son’s school authorities over the use of Houghton Mifflin’s middle school text, “Across the Centuries,” which has been widely criticized for whitewashing Islamic history and glorifying Islam. Its inclusion in the Montgomery County, Md. public school curriculum among other districts across the country, could lead to further objections.

    But the forces in opposition are powerful and plenty. They include public education bureaucrats and teachers mired in naivete and political correctness, biased textbook publishers, politicized professors and other experts tasked with helping states approve textbooks, and at the top of the heap, billions of dollars in Saudi funding. These funds are pouring into the coffers of various organs that design K-12 curricula. The resultant material, not coincidentally, turns out to be inaccurate, biased and, considering the Wahhabist strain of Islam promulgated by Saudi Arabia, dangerous. And again, taxpayer dollars are involved. National Review Online contributing editor Stanley Kurtz explains :

    “The United States government gives money — and a federal seal of approval — to a university Middle East Studies center. That center offers a government-approved K-12 Middle East studies curriculum to America’s teachers. But in fact, that curriculum has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, who may even have trained the personnel who operate the university’s outreach program. Meanwhile, the American government is asleep at the wheel — paying scant attention to how its federally mandated public outreach programs actually work. So without ever realizing it, America’s taxpayers end up subsidizing — and providing official federal approval for — K-12 educational materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices. Game, set, match: Saudis.”

    Along with funding textbooks and curricula, the Saudis are also involved in funding and designing training for public school teachers. The Saudi funded Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University now offers professional development workshops for K-12 teachers. The workshops take place at the hosting institution and provide teachers with classroom material. They are free of charge and ACMCU throws in lunch to boot.

    But this generosity likely comes with a catch, for the center is known for producing scholars and material with a decidedly apologist bent, both toward the Saudi Royal Family and Islamic radicalism. It’s no accident that ACMCU education consultant Susan Douglass, according to her bio, has been “an affiliated scholar” with the Council on Islamic Education “for over a decade.” Douglass also taught social studies at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax, Va., where her husband still teaches. ISA has come under investigation for Saudi-provided textbooks and curriculum that some have alleged promotes hatred and intolerance towards non-Muslims. That someone with Douglass’ problematic associations would be in charge of training public school teachers hardly inspires confidence in the system.

    While groups such as People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the ACLU express outrage at any semblance of Christianity in America’s public schools, very little clamor has met the emergence of Islam in the same arena. An occasional press release, such as the one put out by the Minnesota chapter of the ACLU regarding TIZA, will surface, but by and large, the arbiters of separation of church and state or in this case, mosque and state, have gone silent. The same can largely be said for the federal government and, in particular, the State Department. No doubt, Saudi dollars and influence are part of the problem.

    Probably the single greatest weapon in the arsenal of those trying to fight the misuse of America’s public schools is community involvement. As noted previously, a number of parental coalitions have sprung up across the country in an effort to protect their own children from indoctrination. The Stop the Madrassa Coalition has expanded its efforts beyond New York City by working on policy ideas for legislation and meeting privately with members of Congress. Also providing hope are Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), whose 10-point “Wake Up America” agenda includes a call to reform Saudi-provided textbooks, and the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus she co-chairs. Its focus on “jihadist ideology” demonstrates an all-too-rare governmental understanding of the nature of the current conflict.

    The power to educate the next generation is an inestimable one and a free society cedes control at its peril. The days of the “silent majority” are no longer tenable in the face of a determined and clever enemy. The battle of ideas must be joined.

    Cinnamon Stillwell is a San Francisco writer. She can be reached at cinnamonstillwell@yahoo.com. She also writes for the blog at campus-watch.org.

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/06/11/cstillwell.DTL

     

    CAIR in the Classroom

    CAIR is fast becoming a contributor to our children’s public school education.  Concerned parents of students in Houston’s Friendswood Junior High exposed an Islamic presentation during classroom time given by representatives of the Council on American Islamic Relations.   The WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh  exposing CAIR’s agenda in this Texas public middle school follows this commentary.  First let’s look at CAIR’s participation in a Brooklyn, New York public school.

    CAIR’s active participation as an educating organization working with the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an Arabic language and Arabic culture public school is documented in KGIA’s Executive Summary which states the American Muslim Association of Lawyers (AMAL) offers internships, and helps with a course in human rights (in 6th grade…) (P. 7, p. 18). The AMAL website appears to be inactive (http://www.theamal.org/index.shtml) but the group (or at least their website) was founded by Omar Mohammedi, President of the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and lawyer for the infamous “6 imams” who have threatened to sue airline personnel and passengers for “profiling.” CAIR has been named in the Holy Land Terror-financing trial as an unindicted co-conspirator.

     Frontpage contributes some background to CAIR’s history- “CAIR’s founder and executive director, Nihad Awad, was the IAP’s [Islamic Association of Palestine] public relations director with a long history of extremism. Awad openly praised Iran’s notorious Ayatollah Khomeini. He blasted the trial and conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers – against whom the evidence of guilt was overwhelming – as “a travesty of justice.” At a 1994 Barry University forum, he candidly stated, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”

    “CAIR has been the mouthpiece of some of the vilest anti-Semitism imaginable. For example, the organization co-sponsored a 1998 Brooklyn College rally at which a militant Egyptian Islamist led the attendees in chanting, “No to the Jews, descendents of the apes.” Hussam Ayloush, who heads CAIR’s Los Angeles office, contemptuously refers to Israelis as “Zionazis.” [http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=5E5F4FCA-2B20-4393-917C-506AC4C756F7
     
    Consider the possibilities regarding what would be taught in a Khalil Gibran International Academy classroom.  The KGIA Executive Summary. reveals a day in the life of an imaginary student in the school. “Although KGIA offers a variety of enrichment electives in the arts, sports, and technology beginning at 3:30, Fatin has chosen an elective on Human Rights. This class is being co-taught by one of the school’s full-time teachers along with an Arab-American lawyer. She can’t wait until the end of the semester, when one of the collaborating organizations, the American Muslim Association of Lawyers, will offer students internship opportunities at their members’ law offices for a semester.
     
     An April 2008 Weekly Standard article, “CAIR vs. the NYPD The Wahhabi lobby attacks” by Stephen Schwartz documents that Almontaser, the former Principal-designate and architect of the Khalil Gibran International Academy,  has once again joined forces with CAIR and Omar Mohammadi, CAIR’s NY President, to demand that the NYPD end its distribution of the report, “Radicalization in the West: The Home-Grown Threat” prepared by Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt of the NYPD Intelligence Division to other jurisdictions’ law enforcement agencies.
    “This month, the Wahhabi lobby plans to drop its manifesto of grievances on Commissioner Kelly, on April 17. In minutes of a meeting held in New York on March 3, officials of CAIR present included Faiza Ali, Aliya Latif, and Omar Mohammadi, joined by Islamist agitator Syed Z. Sayeed, religious adviser to the Saudi-backed Muslim Students Association at Columbia University. They noted that the NYPD had asked for a detailed reply to the report. The participants at the March 3 get-together also observed that while they would prepare such a response, CAIR itself has financed and is working on a more thorough text designated its “long-term analysis/alternative model of radicalization.”
     
    Perhaps the most remarkable detail about the March 3 conclave was the leading role taken in it by Debbie Almontaser, a New York resident who last attracted attention as the front-person for a middle-and-high magnet school to be established in New York, the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA). [Emphasis added] KGIA was intended as a special institution emphasizing an Arabic language curriculum and related studies, but its proponents were accused of trying to establish an “intifada academy.” Nevertheless, when Almontaser came under scrutiny as the project head she was defended by many in New York as a faultless moderate. Her involvement in CAIR’s counter-attack on the NYPD demonstrates otherwise: her assignment in dealing with NYPD was to organize an online discussion group for input into the Community Statement.
     
    Such would not be a minor responsibility, and shows that she enjoyed the full confidence of the CAIR commissars. Debbie Almontaser appears to be a classic “stealth Islamist,” and KGIA looks like just the kind of radicalizing effort it was said to be by its critics. Almontaser resigned from her position as head of KGIA last August, but now claims she was forced out, and is pursuing a legal complaint to regain her place at the school. KGIA has been promised housing in an elementary school in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, but its future is little more certain than that of Almontaser’s own career.”  [www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/968cekhc.asp]
    In a recent Frontpage article by Phil Orenstein, “Almontaser has expressed virulent blame America attitudes in the past making statements in interviews such as: “I have realized that our foreign policy is racist; in the ‘war against terror’ people of color are the target….the terrorist attacks have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East.”
     
    Consider also a 2004 article in the American Thinker, “Your children may learn that Muslims discovered America”, describing CAIR’s involvement with stacking the deck in your child’s education as they stack American public library shelves with: “……the placement of propaganda in our schools by Muslim extremist groups. As the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation pointed out in a report issued this week titled, “The Stealth Curriculum:Manipulating America’s History Teachers” these efforts are intended “to use America’s public school classrooms to shape the minds of tomorrow’s citizens by manipulating what today’s teachers introducing into the lessons of today’s children”.

    The article goes on to specify CAIR’s deliberate involvement:

    The Council  on American—Islamic Relations, some of whose members have been “outed” as terror supporters, has an active program to supply these this type of propaganda to libraries across the nation. Naturally, like schools, the librarians are more than happy to accept inexpensive, or free, material to fill their shelves. Yet these same books and audio—visual material are filling our children’s minds with lies that are tantamount to propaganda that teach hate. Efforts should be made by local activists and PTA or PTO members to scrutinize the reading lists at our “educational” institutions. http://www.americanthinker.com/2004/04/your_children_may_learn_that_m.html

     

    BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS

    Texas children roped into Islamic training
    Class by CAIR teaches: ‘There is one god, Allah’
    By Bob Unruh, News Editor, WorldNetDaily,
    30 May 2008
     
     
    Public school students at Friendswood Junior High in the Houston area have been roped into Islamic training by representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations during class time, prompting religious leaders to protest over Principal Robin Lowe’s actions.
    Pastor Dave Welch, spokesman for the Houston Area Pastor Council, confirmed the indoctrination had taken place and called it “unacceptable.”
    “The failure of the principal of Friendswood Junior High to respect simple procedures requiring parental notification for such a potentially controversial subject, to not only approve but participate personally in a religious indoctrination session led by representatives of a group with well-known links to terrorist organizations and her cavalier response when confronted, raises serious questions about her fitness to serve in that role,” the pastors’ organization said.
    According to a parent, whose name was withheld, the children were given the Islamic indoctrination during time that was supposed to be used for a physical
    education class.
    “I am simply trying to get the word out to those whose kids may not have told them about an Islamic presentation that all kids were required to attend,” wrote the parent, who was working to assemble protests to the school board.
    WND previously has reported how public school textbooks being used across the nation have begun promoting Islam, teaching even the religious doctrines.
    WND also has reported on several other school situations in which Islam has been taught as a required subject, and when administrators have defended those decisions.
    In the Texas case, a school e-mail to parents provided only a half-hearted acknowledgement that such mandatory religious indoctrination might not have been the best decision.
    “In hindsight, a note should have been sent home to parents indicating the purpose and content of the presentation in time for parents to contact me with questions or concerns or requests to exempt their child,” the school note from Lowe said. “This will be our practice in the future, should we ever have another presentation of a similar nature.”
    School officials also said the “Islamic Awareness” presentation was “to increase understanding of the Islamic culture in response to racially motivated comments that have been made to students on campus.”
    The pastors said in a statement: “According to students who were forced to attend these sessions, these Islamic evangelists taught them:
    • Adam, Noah and Jesus  are prophets
    • There is one god, his name is Allah
    • The 5 Pillars of Islam
    • How to pray five times a day
    • Islamic religious garb”
    The pastors noted that the principal’s claim there were “comments” to students on campus was unverified. Nor does that excuse or justify “this infringement upon the religious beliefs of students and parents of the community nor the violation of school policy and possibly state and/or federal law,” they said.
    “We do not believe that this unapproved action by Principal Robin Lowe represents the school district and certainly not the majority of students or parents in the Friendswood community. Our commitment is to support all appropriate administrative, legal and political remedies to assure that this will not happen again and these Islamic activist organizations are kept out of our schools,” the pastors said.
    The parent reported the presentation was 30-40 minutes long and handled by two Muslim women from CAIR’s Houston office. CAIR, as WND has reported, is spinoff of the defunct Islamic Association for Palestine, launched by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook and former university professor Sami al-Arian, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
    Among the convicted CAIR staffers are former communications specialist Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges he trained in Virginia for holy war against the U.S. and sent several members to Pakistan to join a Kashmiri terrorist group with reported ties to al-Qaida; and Bassem Khafagi, who was arrested in January 2003 while serving as CAIR’s director of community relations and convicted on fraud and terrorism charges in connection with a probe of the Islamic Assembly of North America, an organization suspected of aiding Saudi sheiks tied to Osama bin Laden. In October 2006, Ghassan Elashi, a member of the founding board of directors of the Texas branch of CAIR, was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for financial ties to a high-ranking terrorist.
    The parent reported that Lowe told students her sister, niece and nephew were Muslim.
    But the parent complained the Muslims “were given full attention of our kids, during academic school time, to present their religious beliefs … This was put right at the end of the school year … which will most likely prevent a Christian response.”
    There also was no parental notification and students were required to attend.
    “The kids did not even know they were having an assembly or what topic it pertained to until they entered the gym,” the parent wrote. “I send my kids to school for academics … I teach them religion at home.”

    Sisters in Solidarity, Almontaser and O’Malley

         There is an interesting alliance between the left wing and those that promote Islamic values despite their severe ideological differences.  The end result is that we as Americans are told that America is an unkind country.  We are patronizingly informed that the U.S., the country of opportunity for all, the country that has brought freedom and prosperity to so many, must become multicultural in order to better ourselves.

         This scenario is playing out in Universities across the country and has filtered down to the K-12 public school system.  The following article explains this alliance as seen between members of the City University of New York (CUNY) and the supporters of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, New York.

     

    Fantasizing “The New McCarthyism”

    By Phil Orenstein
    FrontPageMagazine.com | 5/26/2008

    [http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Printable.aspx?GUID=E0DE76AC-4424-4C76-8E88-2AEA34FF77D9]

    After the lengthy front page tribute in the New York Times treating Deborah Almontaser, founder and former principle of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), as the later day Mother Theresa, I thought the public forum she would be addressing later that evening, alongside her embattled sister in solidarity, City University of New York (CUNY) faculty union official Susan O’Malley, would be thronged by numerous admirers and reporters. But there were no such crowds or media. Wandering the endless corridors of the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, I bumped into the panelists Susan O’Malley and Ms. Almontaser, who were just as lost as I was, looking for the classroom where the public forum, “Academic Freedom and the Attack on Diversity at CUNY,” was to be held.

    A little more than 20 people including CUNY faculty, students as well as the speakers showed up. The poor attendance may be due to the fact that the CUNY Senate Forum email list received the announcement on Sunday after 10 PM, the day before the event.  I was the only person at this “public” forum sponsored by the Middle East Student’s Association (MESO), who attempted to speak up to dispute the cunning agenda and break through the monolithic conformity of the group. 

    Billed as an important forum to address the issues of Islamophobia at CUNY, the email announcement stated:  “Around the country, Islamophobic and Anti-Arab attacks on professors have increased, most notably at Columbia and Barnard.  This movement to attack and discredit dissent has been called “the New McCarthyism” – shutting down reasoned debate on important issues….. Ms. Almontaser will appear on this panel along with CUNY Professor Susan O’ Malley and others working to expose the attack on academic freedom across the nation…There is some urgency here as these attacks are one tip of a vast ideological iceberg that is also threatening to impact the current election campaign.”

    Although the issue of the “anti-Arab attacks” at Columbia and Barnard was not broached in the forum they were most likely referring to the recent public uproar of Columbia and Barnard alumni over the ill-advised tenure decision of Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj granted by virtue of her unimpressive scholarship of one book Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society based on flimsy evidence and hearsay, which purports that the historical origins of the State of Israel are fictitious.

    What I witnessed was a closed forum dedicated to a veiled radical agenda, riddled by hysterical paranoia, name-calling, slanderous accusations against prominent scholars and city officials, and strategies for their ouster, where the panelists professed that “attacks” against Arabs and professors are a coordinated right wing smear campaign launched by Daniel Pipes, CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld and their ilk, which they dubbed the “New McCarthyism.” But Mr. Pipes and company whom they demonized with such venom, have simply exercised their First Amendment rights of critical journalism and free speech, civilly exchanging opinions and information in online magazine articles, speeches, op-eds and blogs, where all sides of the issues were often given a fair hearing in the media.

    I was confused as to the reasons for their excessive paranoia. How are Pipes and company threatening their academic freedom?  The so-called “New McCarthyites” have been vociferous, no doubt, but they demonstrated nothing resembling the violent student mob attacks at Columbia University on Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, because he expressed disagreeable views. Mr. Pipes and a few opinionated bloggers, including myself, are not U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy.  What is this “vast ideological iceberg” that is “threatening to impact the current election campaign” of which the so-called attacks on academic freedom are only the tip? Here now are the panelists, their background, some of their words and the answers to these questions.

    Mona Eldahry: Founder and Director of AWAAM

    One of the panelists, Mona Eldahry was a recent focus of the contentious media debate over the Arabic language public school in Brooklyn, the KGIA, and her relationship with its founder and former principle, Deborah Almontaser. KGIA is a dual-language public school focusing on Arabic language, culture and history that opened last fall in a storm of controversy and protests from parents and Brooklyn residents. Ms. Eldahry is the founding director of Arab Women Active in Arts and Media (AWAAM), who’s sponsoring organization, Yemeni American Association was founded and directed by Almontaser.

    AWAAM is the Arab young women’s leadership group that marketed the inflammatory T-shirts with the slogan “Intifada NYC” that ultimately led to the resignation of Almontaser. Awaam is written on the T-shirts as quwwam in Arabic script which translates as rebel or insurgent.  Ms. Eldahry is active in the pro-Palestinian group, al-Awda. According to the Anti-Defamation League, al-Awda, whose T-shirt slogan is “Intifada! Palestine Will Be Free From the River to the Sea,” actively supports the terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas, opposes Israel’s right to exist and openly demonstrates to promote boycott, divestment and the destruction of Israel in street rallies and academic conferences.

    Ms. Eldahry described AWAAM’s initial activities protesting the unjust profiling, detentions and hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims in solidarity with Almontaser who joined together in demonstrations every Saturday at a detention center in Brooklyn. She vividly described the numerous “attacks” on AWAAM by tabloids and rightwing blogs. AWAAM was organized to give a voice to the voiceless in the Arab community. After 9/11 Arabs and Muslims had to hide their identities since they were the victims of numerous “attacks” for who they were. “Muslim haters” like Daniel Pipes and company now have the microphone and use the media as a tools. Arabs need to speak out louder than Pipes and his ilk who have the ear of Mayor Bloomberg which is why he and the Department of Education forced Deborah Almontaser out. She maligned Pipes and the Stop The Madrassa (STM) coalition as racist, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-black and anti-gay. He initiated the campaign of intolerance and anti-Muslim hatred aimed at closing KGIA.

    I questioned her on the accuracy of her accusations, since Daniel Pipes is an Islamic scholar well known for his respect and defense of the majority of peaceful Muslims, often asserting that while radical Islam is the problem, moderate Muslims are the solution. She claimed Pipes wrote that the enfranchisement of the Muslim community in America is a serious problem for the Jewish people. When I tried asking for the source of such statements, I was curtly interrupted, and told “we have to move on now.”

    Nevertheless, the cries of widespread Islamophobia are false alarms according to FBI data  which shows that hate crimes against Muslims have plummeted since 2001 and account for a fraction of overall religious hate crimes. In fact, in 2006, there were six times as many religiously motivated attacks on Jews as there were against Muslims in America, although Jewish and Muslim populations are about the same size. While American citizens are showing more tolerance and respect toward Muslims than any other religious group, Eldahry, Almontaser and other self-proclaimed champions of diversity are crying “Islamophobia” in response to reasonable questions and concerns about the spread and infiltration of radical Islam in our public schools and colleges. Meanwhile they hide their true agenda under the cloak of multiculturalism and diversity allowing intolerance and disrespect toward America and Israel to prevail in the classroom. As one panelist put it, “we don’t want to talk about Israel – the elephant in the middle of the room.”

    Deborah Almontaser: Founder and Former Principle of KGIA

    One of the featured panelists was Deborah Almontaser, who resigned as principle of KGIA after she stirred up controversy over her misleading explanation of the term “intifada” as “shaking off of oppression” in response to a reporter’s question about the inflammatory “Intifada NYC” slogan on the AWAAM organization’s T-shirts. She recently filed a lawsuit against the New York Department of Education and Mayor Bloomberg, charging that her First Amendment rights were violated when she was wrongfully forced to resign. A federal appeals court ruled that she will not be reinstated as principle and she is now appealing. In the words of a sympathetic anti-bigotry activist present at the forum, Almontaser is “a traditionalist-leaning Muslim and as such, has ties to the more fundamentalist Muslim groups,” thus apparently not a moderate Muslim as many supporters claim. Almontaser and the KGIA public school are enthusiastically supported by a number of radical individuals and Islamic groups such as AWAAM, CAIR — currently under federal investigation as an unindicted co-conspirator for terrorist financing, the American Muslim Association of Lawyers (AMAL) – which defended the notorious “6 imams” who threatened to sue passengers for profiling, cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, unrepentant former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, anti-Israel Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, and others. Three radical Imams are on KGIA’s board of advisors composed of 12 Islamic, Jewish and Christian religious leaders. Almontaser has expressed virulent blame America attitudes in the past making statements in interviews such as: “I have realized that our foreign policy is racist; in the ‘war against terror’ people of color are the target….the terrorist attacks have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East.”

    In her talk, she described her activities for tolerance and understanding in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. She visited synagogues, churches and mosques lecturing on religious and cultural sensitivity, spreading the message that Islam is a religion of peace. In a post 9/11 world of anti-Muslim backlash and discrimination, she described the lack of understanding of what her people were faced with and her contributions to a “September 11th Curriculum Project” to alleviate the backlash and discrimination in the New York public school system, training teachers and students in cultural sensitivity. She spoke of the weekly protest efforts together with Mona Eldahry seeking justice for Arab and Muslim detainees some of whom “suffered abuses in the name of our country.”

    She described how people lobbied and a movement was mobilized against the KGIA. Almontaser was the unfortunate victim of a movement by a “loud minority of voices” which she dubbed “McCarthyism of 2008.” One writer to the New York Times called this movement of Daniel Pipes, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld and company, “the thought police.” The moderator asked why this is happening to you, why are you so under attack? In answer, she described the role played by cultural tolerance and understanding in bridging the gap between East and West and opening doors to peace, so you don’t need war anymore. The purpose of KGIA is to create “ambassadors of peace and hope,” as the New York Times article mentioned. She said “the school is aiming to humanize the enemy” we’re supposed to be at war with. This is a threat to many people who claim that “we’re at war” and “we need to keep the war going” in order to thrive. “If you don’t have an enemy, you can’t keep Lockheed in business.” She clarified.

    She further characterized her “attackers” as those who feel “we need to have an enemy, a bad guy.” What they find threatening is the whole notion of “learning the language and culture of people that we should be hating because we’re at war with them.” Members of the audience contributed to the theme that “this country is engaged in an imperial war and needs to build up an enemy.” Someone elaborated that conservatives, by the same token need to build an enemy on a smaller scale so they target local Muslims, Arabs and the KGIA, and Wiesenfeld lashes out at CUNY and public education, to fulfill their need for an enemy and someone to hate, in order to ultimately support the imperial war.

    A little latter someone in the audience continued on this theme, mentioning that anyone who visits the Stop the Madrassa website will notice that they “subscribe to an extreme version of the ‘Clash of Civilizations,’” and they see the battle to close the KGIA as “one local fight in a broad national battle against Islam” and what they call the “Islamization of America.” They see the same Islamic colonizing phenomena that produced “Eurabia” slowly happening here and “they are drawing battle lines wherever they can.” They see themselves as “great crusaders or heroes protecting Christendom and Western Civilization” against barbarians. They will “lie, distort, smear and destroy careers and people themselves,” and they will do “anything and everything to further their cause. “They are not a civil debating society.” They are not interested in ideas. That’s why you can’t sit down and talk to them or have a civil debate.

    Although I witnessed a paranoia which reached astonishing new levels of hysteria, I would imagine that the morning New York Times article must have taken some of the wind out of their sails, for how could they complain about intolerance and anti-Muslim “attacks” when such a display of sympathy and veneration in pictures and words on page one of the newspaper of record limits their outrage to just a handful of critics like myself who disagree with their outlandish premises and challenge their dubious motives?

    Later during the question and answer session, I tried to challenge their outlandish premises and dubious motives. I said that we recently witnessed the obliteration of 3000 fellow New Yorkers murdered in the worst attack in our country’s history and we see Muslim terrorist attacks throughout the world targeting men women and children in the name of your religion. But I haven’t heard anyone condemning them. All I have heard is everyone here sniping at Daniel Pipes and Jeffrey Wiesenfeld for being anti-Muslim, as if they were the enemy. When will you identify the real enemy who wants to kill all of us and condemn the radical Islamic groups like Hamas and Hezbollah who murder innocent people in the name of Islam?

    I also asked why they seem to embrace every type of diversity under the sun, including racial, gender, ethnic, sexual, except for intellectual diversity. Why do you often shun a diversity of viewpoints and decline to share a public forum with conservatives? Why not invite staunch conservatives like Dr. Karkhanis or Jeff Wiesenfeld to a CUNY forum to present their side of the issues? The moderator said that this was not a Left vs. Right debate, he would consider it in the future but only if they would act civilly, stop “repeating lies” or carrying on a “witch hunt” like STM is doing, but not if they continue to act like “bulldozers.” One person in the room said that once he did indeed condemn terrorists as mass murderers at a CUNY anti-war teach-in sponsored by the PSC, but he claimed the New York Post reported that he called them freedom fighters. Other responses as well blamed the media and Daniel Pipes for distorting their remarks to appear as if they support terrorism or 9/11 conspiracy theories.

    I tried to continue to speak up further and raise my hand, but to no avail. At that point everyone in the room was glaring at me, so in order not to appear like a bulldozer, I held my tongue. I waited until the end of the forum and approached Ms. Almontaser civilly and asked her a number of questions.

    I said to her that I am opposed to the KGIA, because public schools in the U.S. funded by the taxpayers, should not teach students in Arabic or in any one particular language other than English. She answered that there are dual language public schools that focus on Spanish language, or Chinese so there ought to be a school which immerses the student in Arabic language study, especially since there is such an urgent need for Arabic translators and diplomats. I replied that public schools should offer Arabic, Spanish, French and other languages as electives, but only English should be the standard in American schools. But she countered that the elective program is not good enough. We need a more comprehensive language program.

    I asked her why she placed Muslim imams on the school’s advisory board and why was everyone involved so secretive. The difficulty of obtaining inside information to keep the academy transparent to the public was naturally a cause for concern. The names of the clerics, on the advisory board for instance, were only later revealed in a letter to the New York Sun. She blamed the Department of Education for the lack of transparency and claimed she was always forthcoming about the curriculum, the books, and the teachers, but DOE never put it on their website. However, sources from STM claim that queries submitted to the DOE suggest that there was no indication on Almontaser’s part that she was seeking transparency concerning the curriculum.

    Regarding the imams on her board, she answered that when she was designing the school she was seeking advice from her friends in the community and these imams were eager to offer help. Anyway, as Almontaser declared, the board has already been disbanded by the Department of Education. But Imam Abdur-Rashid, a board member who has written in a radical vein “on the way white Americans “robbed” Africans and Muslims of their heritage,” hasn’t heard the news of the board’s demise according to Andrea Peyser of the New York Post. A bystander listening to our conversation interjected that rabbis and reverends were on the board as well as imams – all the major beliefs were represented. I replied that I am opposed to having any religious clerics, of any faith sit on a public school’s advisory board. It’s illegal, unconstitutional and breaks the separation of church and state. It’s fine for a private Yeshiva, Christian or Islamic school to employ religious figures, but not in a public school. I asked Ms. Almontaser why not launch a private school to immerse the student in Arabic language and culture, or a public school with a better Arabic elective program? She answered that she was no longer a principle and cannot make decisions. I thanked her for her open and honest answers and mentioned that I would investigate further.

    What was most disturbing about the whole issue of the Arabic themed school, was the total lack of any American themed plans for a school where pride in country, patriotism and respect for our flag would be instilled in our youth. Instead of focusing on cultural immersion into balkanized entities of Arabic, Chinese or Spanish traditions and languages, the most pressing need today is teaching our children about the greatness of our common American heritage. The focus of education should be imparting a first-class knowledge of United States history. The history of America is the history of all people, all races, ethnicities and religions. The people of numerous cultures and national origins that immigrate to our shores in order to share in the bounties of the great American experiment must assimilate to American culture first, rather than the other way around. The moral rot of multiculturalism dictates that the assimilation process should proceed the other way around. They want to tear apart our country into disconnected identity groups, which will ultimately bring our nation to ruin. Instead of using the classroom to teach minority students and new immigrants that Western Civilization is the villain and they are its victims, teachers should be imparting the basic principles of assimilation into the fabric of American society.  Teach the core values and ideals of America – courage, honor, honesty, religious freedom, individual rights, civics education, free enterprise, work ethic, etc. It is imperative for teachers to respect the flag, respect our country and be proud Americans. The heart of the problem in education today that is poisoning our next generation is that too many teachers and academics are just the opposite. That travesty was demonstrated in every spoken word at the forum and that is why the KGIA is such a dangerous idea that must be stopped.

    Susan O’Malley: CUNY Trustee Ex-officio and PSC Executive Committee Official

    The third and final panelist was CUNY faculty union official Susan O’Malley, who has filed an ongoing $2 million defamation lawsuit against Professor Emeritus Sharad Karkhanis, for his audacity to state that it’s not appropriate to place convicted terrorists, Mohamed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg on the CUNY payroll. In his introduction, the moderator stated O’Malley has been “attacked” as a “so-called terrorist sympathizer” as he listed her credentials. She defended herself with the same cries of Islamophobia and racism as Almontaser but only O’Malley’s persecution came from a “crazy man” and his conservative allies. She cried that in her case, for at least 13 years she has been “attacked by a crazy man named Sharad Karkhanis.”  

    To explain the methods Karkhanis and his friends used to “attack” her, she expounded on the “craziness” of guilt by association that was used to smear KGIA and its founder, Ms. Almontaser. The same strategy is being used to attack Senator Obama, by associating him with controversial figures, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, the unrepentant former leader of the Weather Underground. The method is to take something irrelevant out of context and repeat it over and over again until it is cited as established fact. This leads to the “establishment of lies” which inadvertently appear in everyday conversation, as people rehash them as household words. That is how she was smeared by Karkhanis and she proceeded to tell her tale of anguish.

    Karkhanis put out a newsletter, The Patriot Returns, which he distributes to 13,000 CUNY faculty, in which she’s been “red-baited, lesbian-baited and everything-baited,” called “a terrorist” and a “friend of terrorists,” and even declared that she was “at an al-Qaeda training camp.” She claimed to have endured “about 50 attacks” from the various issues of the newsletter.  He doesn’t do it alone, she explained. It’s an effort of a group of rightwing conservatives, probably including Daniel Pipes, from whom she’s received emails. Jeffrey Wiesenfeld was also closely “connected with these attacks.”

    O’Malley continued, saying he put out these “attacks” over and over, for such a long period of time that everywhere she went, even up in Albany, “people knew her as the butt of this person’s attacks” and were afraid to associate with her. The attacks became such a nightmare and she “started really freaking out.” She feared boarding an airplane one day and being turned away because she’s a terrorist. She said she would have loved to respond to his accusations, but it was just impossible, so she had her lawyer friend send a letter to Karkhanis asking him to “please stop attacking her, and he said he would not.” She wanted it to stop, she wanted quiet and since she was no longer head of the CUNY University Faculty Senate (UFS), she filed a libel suit against him.  

    She continued in defense of her actions to try to hire Mohamed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg. She explained that the “attacks” on her became most virulent after 9/11 when Yousry, an adjunct at York College was removed from the classroom without discussion or due process rights, after he was convicted for aiding terrorism. As UFS chair she was in a position to protect faculty, especially adjuncts whose “academic freedom and right to due process were limited.” After calling her UFS office in desperation since he couldn’t find work, she tried to find a teaching position for him since his academic career and his life were destroyed after his dismissal.  She knew Yousry to be “very fine teacher” and a “man of stature.” She rationalized that he should be considered “innocent until proven guilty which is part of the law in this country.”

    Essentially, Ms. O’Malley is either unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system or is feigning ignorance as a cover for her actions in her capacity as CUNY union official. Yousry was convicted along with co-conspirator Lynne Stewart in federal court and found guilty as charged for providing material support for terrorism and defrauding the government. How could a man with a terrorist conviction be “a man of stature?”

    O’Malley conveniently forgot to mention a few things about Mohamed Yousry. He was removed from his adjunct position only after he was indicted, but was paid salary for the entire semester.  O’Malley should also be grateful that Yousry did indeed receive contractual and legal rights of due process as his grievance followed all the proper channels from “step one” at the college level all the way up to arbitration with all expenses paid by dues paying union members. Mr. Yousry lost his case. This was all spelled out in plain English in The Patriot Returns 35.4.  What makes her think that “the CUNY administration was going to roll out a welcome mat in CUNY for this terrorist and put him back on the payroll after his conviction in Federal Court and after CUNY prevailed in arbitration?”

    She has yet to answer the following question raised in the same issue of The Patriot Returns: “Has Queen O’Malley ever made a “Job Wanted” announcement like this for a non-convicted, non-violent, peace loving American educator for a job in CUNY? There are hundreds of qualified people looking for teaching jobs. Why does she prefer convicted terrorists who are bent on harming our people and our nation, over peace-loving Americans?”

    In a similar fashion, O’Malley sought to help find employment for former John Jay College adjunct Susan Rosenberg who was a Weather Underground terrorist convicted as an accomplice in the murder of two police officers and a security guard and for her role in the 1983 bombing of the United States Capitol and was imprisoned for a 58 year sentence for the possession of 700 pounds of dynamite and weapons. She served 16 years of her sentence until she was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

    However, the fact is that out of a total of 40 issues of The Patriot Returns, Karkhanis published over a 15 year span, only nine actually mentioned Susan O’Malley by name, and nowhere did Karkhanis state that she was a “terrorist” or that she was “at an al-Qaeda training camp.” He simply reported the facts and voiced his objections, often satirically, regarding her compulsive efforts to find teaching jobs for convicted terrorists, in her capacity as UFS/CUNY chair, Trustee ex-officio and PSC Executive Committee member. He exposed O’Malley’s letters to the New York Post and the Daily News  defending Rosenberg’s right to teach, her postings on the CUNY /UFS Discussion Forum  seeking teaching opportunities at CUNY for Yousry and Rosenberg, her appeals to the staff at a UFS Plenary Session for CUNY to hire Yousry, and other indications of her obsession to employ convicted terrorists.  In their defense she downplayed the gravity of their convictions arguing in Yousry’s case, “it’s becoming increasingly clear that he really did just about nothing.”  In Rosenberg’s defense she argued in her letters from the standpoint that rehabilitation is one of the goals of the U.S. criminal justice system. Susan Rosenberg, having served her time, and having been “evaluated satisfactorily by her department,” should now “be integrated back into society” with a suitable teaching assignment as planned by John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

    The Patriot Returns focused on numerous CUNY union officials who had a penchant for idolizing criminals and terrorists, of whom O’Malley was a mere lightweight. The few times Karkhanis wrote about O’Malley, he would typically engage in collegial satire referring to her as the “Queen of Released Time” for seeking way too many CUNY leadership positions in lieu of teaching assignments. In the “Rumor Column,” he wondered whether the “Queen” would abdicate her throne to take the Harvard presidency after Larry Summers resigned. Typically, The Patriot Returns expends the most ink excoriating the PSC leadership for spending the faculty member’s union dues on inappropriate political causes while they repeatedly failed to deliver a beneficial contract. While they were actively mobilizing the CUNY membership to march against the Republican Party, organizing anti-war campus teach-ins after 9/11, donating the member’s dues money to support the legal defense of imprisoned terrorists Lori Berenson and Sami al-Arian and a host of other radical causes too numerous to mention here, the member’s health and welfare fund of $15 million dwindled to just about nothing. PSC/CUNY, of which O’Malley is an Executive Committee member, issued a Delegate Assembly Resolution donating $5000 and demanding the immediate release of Lori Berenson, currently serving a 20 year prison term in Peru on terrorism charges.

    O’Malley had plenty of opportunities to take on Dr. Karkhanis and refute his accusations. She could have responded in the Clarion, the CUNY faculty union newspaper or the UFS faculty newsletter, which at one point she was an editor. Instead she chose to hire a lawyer and sue Karkhanis in New York State Supreme Court in order to silence his critical tongue and shut down The Patriot Returns.  The poor retired professor, Dr. Karkhanis’s First Amendment rights have been threatened more than anyone of the fakers in the room.

    Meanwhile, Prof. O’Malley continued to lecture on the “New McCarthyism,” the vast movement targeting her and her comrades through email harassment, blogs and other forms of “bullying through the internet.” This vast movement holds an ideology that seeks to destroy rather than talk. She then directed her venom toward CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a STM advisor whom she described as so anti-Muslim that it’s a contradiction for him to be on the CUNY board. She mentioned her discovery in the New York Times article that he worked for the FBI. While she knew that “he has been very, very conservative,” this was the “hole in his career” that she didn’t know about, in trying to “piece together his life.” She had spent a number of years as the faculty representative on the CUNY Board of Trustees and debated with him constantly.  A number of panelists and people in the audience broke into an emotional discussion about the CUNY board and why they should remove Wiesenfeld. One person said Wiesenfeld was behind the “attacks” on KGIA and as part of “a vigilante squad, a hate group” agreeing with O’Malley that his anti-Muslim credentials make it a contradiction for him to be on the board.  Another described the makeup of the board as mostly conservative, having been appointed by a Republican administration, and therefore doesn’t care too much about the students. Naturally, Wiesenfeld is the loudest. They continued to demonize Wiesenfeld, reciting a laundry list of character faults and random insults without an intelligible word about the substance of what he had to say. His “devious personal attacks make any kind of constructive debate impossible,” as he “screams louder than you,” to show he is “more powerful than you.”

    Later on the discussion came back to Wiesenfeld, as someone in the room requested that they return to their favorite topic, how to get him off the CUNY board.  This person said she wrote to the CUNY board about Wiesenfeld regarding a “vile interaction” she observed between him and someone else in what was a “major, major attack,” that was “really outrageous.” They basically denied it saying “he didn’t do it in his capacity on the Board of Trustees.” She described being “shocked” meeting him. “He walked by me, pushed me, and cursed me out.” She questioned “if it is so difficult to get him off the board” and “what more is there for us to do,” to speak out as a community, that “we won’t stand for it.” The room then launched into a brainstorming session for Wiesenfeld’s ouster. Some suggested writing letters, a good article in Inside Higher Ed, or local press. One said that the only way would be through the chair, Benno Schmidt since Wiesenfeld was appointed by the governor and has to finish out his term. O’Malley added that Wiesenfeld and the rest of his coordinated movement have been making the rounds of the Republican political circuit, speaking out against Muslims and the KGIA, honoring Dr. Karkhanis as Educator of the Year, and controlling the microphone and media. As they strategized how to take back the microphone and the press, they conveniently forgot to mention the sympathetic article in the morning New York Times, and the knee-jerk reaction of eight million New Yorkers to venerate anyone who paints themselves as a victim of intolerance and hatred. Hopefully, as one person mentioned, the new governor David Paterson could remove CUNY chairman Benno Schmidt and their group could become more active in the vetting process for trustees. Perhaps Paterson would help their cause and bring back CUNY to its original mission, returning to the policies of open admissions and affirmative action to serve all New Yorkers regardless of their racial status or aptitude. This last comment received a generous round of applause.

    Actually, trustee Wiesenfeld is a hero to many New Yorkers for his efforts in bringing higher academic standards to CUNY. As a result of abolishing the failed policies of open admissions and remedial education that turned the once great academic institution into a worthless “diploma mill,” CUNY now is experiencing a wonderful renaissance, where even minority enrollment is up and their diplomas have real value.

    At one point in the discussion the true condescending nature toward “people of color” slipped out accidentally. Almontaser described the KGIA as a school that caters to children of Arab descent immersed in their own culture, but welcomes students of all backgrounds and ethnicities as well. But only a dozen of the 60 students presently enrolled are Arab. Her dream that this school would function as a home to Arabs and Muslims was shattered, and now regrettably the school caters mostly to non-Arabs. One person in the audience said that mostly African Americans and Puerto Ricans enrolled their kids at KGIA because they think it would lead to a great job as a translator, as others in the room seemed to agree and chuckle quietly. How telling that they should look down their noses at the very people they claim to protect and defend, for attempting to rise above their surroundings and strive to build valuable marketable skills.

    While posing as the paragons of diversity and multiculturalism, Ms. Almontaser and Prof. O’Malley betray a patronizing nature that they try to conceal. They demonize their critics in order to bully them into silence, while posturing as hapless victims of a hateful “vigilant squad” of anti-Muslim “attacks.” The same type of scrutiny that they christen “guilt by association” that is used to vet politicians running for the highest offices must be utilized to examine the actions of lesser public officials.

    No one who chooses a leadership role is immune from scrutiny. Echoing the sentiments of President Harry Truman, Hillary Clinton admonished Senator Obama: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If a public official were to associate with David Duke, participate in Stormfront rallies and condone the message of “White Pride” T-shirts, there would be universal condemnation and justified public outrage. Whether this person was a public school principle, a CUNY union official or Barack Obama, he or she would summarily be toast. Any teacher will tell you that a student caught hanging out with troublemakers would be severely reprimanded. These lesser public officials likewise should continue to be rigorously vetted and judged by virtue of the troublemakers they associate with and recruit. Any attempt to thwart the process of freedom of criticism via the courts or any other forms of intimidation or censorship, will be viewed as a direct threat to the First Amendment rights of all and a danger to our national security at a time of global crisis and Islamic terrorism.

     


    Phil Orenstein is a manufacturing systems manager at Orics Industries Inc. based in Queens, NY, and formerly an adjunct lecturer of Computer Aided Manufacturing at Queensborough Community College and Farmingdale State University.

    Caution to the Wind….

    Alan Brodsky, in a NY Post op-ed writes,
       
     
    -“When the consequences are great, as when creating a school, officials must act with an over-abundance of prudence. They must have unassailable faith in school leaders.”
     
    -“But would kids come away less committed to US values and traditions than their peers? How would the school present 9/11, Islam, Israel, the Mideast – America?”

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    “Yes, in theory, such a school can be useful. More Americans need to speak Arabic – not just to bridge cultural gaps, but to spy on the enemy and expose his plots. We need to know how Islamists think and act – not to understand their “grievances,” but to help predict and foil their next attack.”

    The article speaks for itself and we couldn’t agree more.

    Read the entire op-ed:

                                    

                     Almontaser: Ties to dubious groups

     

    WHO NEEDS VIGILANCE?

    THE NY TIMES & ‘INTIFADA HIGH’

    By ADAM BRODSKY

    May 2, 2008 — SOMEONE should tell The New York Times what happened on 9/11 – it ap parently has no clue. If it did, it never would’ve run that 4,500-word, front-page tearjerker Monday on Brooklyn’s Khalil Gibran International Academy and its ex-principal, Debbie Almontaser.

     What happened back then (as everyone but, it seems, the Times knows) is that Arab Islamists, disguised as harmless civilians, murdered 3,000 people and leveled the World Trade Center. In so doing, they awoke America to their war, which relies heavily on deception and targets unsuspecting, open-minded, tolerant Westerners. Gullible fools, that is.
    Since then, Americans got wise. One response to the sneak attack: vigilance. If you see something, say something. Be careful whom you trust.
    The Times sees no need for vigilance, as if 9/11 never happened. But caution underlies resistance to the city’s first Arab-themed public school.
    No, no one feared the school would train kid bombers. But would kids come away less committed to US values and traditions than their peers? How would the school present 9/11, Islam, Israel, the Mideast – America?
    Surely, if Americans had flattened the Riyadh Tower (Saudi Arabia’s tallest building), the idea of opening a public school in the Kingdom to promote US-Arab understanding would occur to no one. No wonder jaws dropped over plans for a taxpayer-funded, Arabic-themed school in the city, in response to attacks here by Arab terrorists.
    Yes, in theory, such a school can be useful. More Americans need to speak Arabic – not just to bridge cultural gaps, but to spy on the enemy and expose his plots. We need to know how Islamists think and act – not to understand their “grievances,” but to help predict and foil their next attack.
    When the consequences are great, as when creating a school, officials must act with an over-abundance of prudence. They must have unassailable faith in school leaders.
    Once a school opens, it’s hard to reverse decisions. Almontaser’s lawsuit against Mayor Mike and the city – she cites her First Amendment rights in claiming she was wrongly forced to quit – shows that.
    Folks can debate if Almontaser, a Yemeni-American, is a well-meaning Muslim moderate railroaded out of her dream to create “ambassadors of peace and hope” – as she, and the Times, insist.
    They can weigh the paper’s suggestion that she was fired in large part because of a Post story, which a judge said “misleadingly” reported her comments on the term “intifada.”
    Or they may decide that anti-Islamist experts like Daniel Pipes, who labeled her an “extremist,” had her pegged better. And that the Gibran school really is “the kind of radicalizing effort it was said to be,” as Stephen Schwartz put it.
    That debate might answer questions like: Why did Almontaser feel compelled to defend teen girls whose group sported t-shirts with the incendiary words “Intifada NYC”? What’s with her ties to groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terror-funding case with links to Hamas?
    Certainly, there was enough to raise real concerns, in an era of necessarily heightened distrust. And that should have been sufficient to disqualify her, if not to kill the school entirely – however qualified and well-meaning she may be.
    As they respond to terror with vigilance, Americans will no doubt sometimes go overboard. But you can be sure mistakes will be fewer here than they’d be anywhere else.
    Meanwhile, too much caution is surely better than too little.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

        

    Revisionist History in the Classroom

    After four separate Freedom of Information Law requests and four court hearings, the Department of Education has not responded to our demands for complete transparency.  The reason for KGIA’s existence is to teach the Arabic language and Arabic Culture; however, the curricula and textbooks have not been revealed.   As we pursue the truth, everyone continues to wonder exactly what is being taught in the Khalil Gibran International Academy.  Are they learning that Muslims discovered America?  If so, why?  The answer is that if the Islamists can establish their presence as the original inhabitants of North America then the land becomes part of the Ummah, the Islamic lands.  The caliphate now extends to the United States.  According to the open source Wikkipedia the Ummah is-

    Present day meaning-

    Some modern Islamists use the term “Islamic Ummah” or “Muslim Ummah” to refer to all the people in the lands and countries where Muslims predominantly reside, and which were once under the control of the Islamic Caliphate. They thus include non-Muslim minorities as members of the ummah. Shariah (Islamic law) would apply to the citizens of the state. In such a unified “Islamic Umma,” the non-Muslim citizens would be subject to Dhimmi limitations and conditions.

    The Council on American Islamic Relations has endorsed the school and stated that they are participating with KGIA.  See CAIR-NY-founded American Muslim Lawyers Association and the American Mideast Leadership Network, run by a Hezbollah apologist.  Considering its status as a  named unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terrorist funding case and its years of plying Islamic literature to American Public Libraries the question is, “What have they supplied KGIA’s library with?”  This is just one of many questions we need answers to.

    Following is a 2004 article reprinted from the American Thinker by Ed Lasky.  Islamic propaganda in American public schools has been exposed for years.  Exactly what was Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Department of Education thinking when they endorsed and supported this school?

    April 16, 2004

    Your children may learn that Muslims discovered America

    By Ed Lasky

    A Native American tribe has forced distributors of an Arab studies guide for American teachers to remove an inaccurate and absurd passage that Muslim explorers preceded Columbus to North America, and eventually became Algonquin chiefs named Abdul—Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik!

    The Middle East Policy Council, a Washington advocacy group that promotes this curriculum to school districts in 155 U.S. cities have apparently been somewhat unresponsive and dismissive of complaints. Ridiculous as this example is, it is illustrative of a far more disturbing development: the placement of propaganda in our schools by Muslim extremist groups. [Emphasis added] As the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation pointed out in a report issued this week titled, “The Stealth Curriculum:Manipulating America’s History Teachers” these efforts are intended “to use America’s public school classrooms to shape the minds of tomorrow’s citizens by manipulating what today’s teachers introducing into the lessons of today’s children”

    The American Textbook Council has played a leading role in resisting Arab efforts to supply propaganda to our schools, and recently published a report, “Islam and the Textbooks”, by Gilbert T. Sewall, which reports this phenomenon. It can be found here.

    These militants and their supporters have set their eyes on our children, and are attempting to brainwash them by supplying free textbooks which whitewash the truth regarding Muslim extremism, while promoting Arab and Palestinian political goals. These “teaching materials” also impugn and devalue America, Western nations, Israel. Judaism, and Christianity. The article, ‘Textbooks for Jihad,’ found here is a good analysis of these developments .

    The Council  on American—Islamic Relations, some of whose members have been “outed” as terror supporters, has an active program to supply these this type of propaganda to libraries across the nation. Naturally, like schools, the librarians are more than happy to accept inexpensive, or free, material to fill their shelves. Yet these same books and audio—visual material are filling our children’s minds with lies that are tantamount to propaganda that teach hate. Efforts should be made by local activists and PTA or PTO members to scrutinize the reading lists at our “educational” institutions. [http://www.americanthinker.com/2004/04/your_children_may_learn_that_m.html]

    Stop the Madrassa Press Release- “Open Letter from Educators”

    Former SDS, Communist Party, and Weather Underground Extremists Defame Critics of Khalil Gibran Academy;
    They Join Prior Supporters, Such as Cop-Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and Rabbi Michael Paley, in Support of Almontaser & KGIA

    New York, New York April 4, 2008 . Once again, radical Islamist groups and their enablers are attempting to silence American citizens through boycotts, name-calling, threats of lawsuits, defamatory accusations and other forms of intimidation.


    This time,
    as the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) finds itself under new fire from angry parents in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn who feel KGIA is being imposed on their elementary school, hard Leftist KGIA supporters are attempting to bolster the failing “multi-cultural” experiment by defaming their critics. In a letter this week to Mayor Bloomberg, KGIA supporters label those who have questioned the creation, purpose, affiliates, management, and other issues regarding the Arabic school “a small group of fear-mongering bigots.”

    Among those who signed the letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein were a number of well- known former leaders of extremist Leftist organizations. For example, as reported by the open source Wikipedia, William Ayers, who is now at the
    University of Illinois at Chicago, reportedly was “a Weather Underground member…. he became radicalized at the University of Michigan. During his years there, he became involved in the New Left and the SDS. Ayers went underground with several comrades after their co-conspirators’ bomb accidentally exploded on March 6, 1970, destroying a Greenwich Village townhouse and killing three members of the Weather Underground…. They avoided the police and FBI while bombing high-profile government buildings—including the United States Capitol (two bombs on March 1, 1970), The Pentagon (May 19, 1972), and the Harry S Truman Building which houses the United States Department of State (on January 29, 1975)—along with several banks, police department headquarters and precincts, state and federal courthouses, and state prison administrative offices. Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn raised two children, Zayd and Malik, underground before turning themselves in in 1981, when most charges were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct during the long search for the fugitives…. Ayers published his memoirs in 2001 with the book Fugitive Days. His interview with the New York Times to promote his book was published on September 11, 200…. In this interview, he… was quoted as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough.”…. In the fall of 2006, Ayers was asked not to attend a progressive educators’ conference on the basis that the organizers did not want to risk an association of their movement with his violent past. ”

    Another of those defaming critics of KGIA is Michael Klonsky, of the Small Schools Workshop who, again according to the open source Wikipedia, “…helped organize the first chapter of Students for a Democratic Society in the area. He became active in national SDS early in 1967…. During his community organizing, Klonsky began developing a proto-Marxist ideology which emphasized community and worker organizing…. In late 1969, Klonsky founded the October League, a communist party which in 1977 became the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist. He was elected the party’s chairman…. Klonsky made several trips to China beginning in July 1977, where he was warmly received by government and Communist Party of China officials and treated to state dinners… “
    Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition (STM) has filed Freedom of Information Law requests to obtain complete information concerning textbooks, lesson plans and design documents to be used at KGIA. Because the DOE did not comply STM was forced to file an Article 78 petition in Manhattan Supreme Court. Not surprisingly the documents turned over pursuant to the FOIL requests substantiated STM concerns. To date the school does not have proper textbooks, curricla, or lesson plans for teaching middle and high school Arabic language and culture. What was discovered from FOIL requests is that KGIA was poorly designed and poorly thought-out. In recent months STM has stepped up its calls for immediate closure of KGIA, and expanded its fight nationwide to halt the imposition of radical Islamist agendas in curricula, Arab language programs, history classes, textbooks, teacher training, and charter schools. STM does not oppose the teaching of Arabic language or Arabic culture in a balanced public school curriculum offering several languages and covering all cultures.

    We will not be silenced and we stand in solidarity with others who have been defamed or targeted for exposing the dangers of Islamo-fasxism and jihadism.


    # # #

    Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition is a grassroots organization working to
    help parents and teachers investigate, expose and eliminate Islamist and other ideological influence on textbooks, curricula and courses. . For more information please visit www.stopthemadrassa.wordpress.org..

    ###

    Text of Open Letter from Educators in Support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and Principal Debbie Almontaser to:

    Michael Bloomberg Joel Klein
    Mayor of New York City Chancellor of New York City Department of Education
    Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein,
    In 2007 the New York City Public Schools approved the establishment of the first-ever NY public school focusing on Arabic language and culture. This new small dual-language school, Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), addressed a need and dream of many in New York’s Arab communities. Leading the campaign for this specialty academy was Debbie Almontaser, a respected educator and community leader, who was selected to become the school’s founding principal.
    Before the school ever opened its doors, Almontaser was forced to resign. When Debbie Almontaser was forced out as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a blow was struck against the rights and academic freedom of educators everywhere. Principal Almontaser was the guiding light and the pioneer behind the founding of the new school, which was envisioned as part of a vibrant small-schools movement fostering personalization, autonomy, and the empowerment of teachers.
    A campaign of lies, racial fear, and anti-Arab prejudice, emanating from a conservative media group including the New York Post and supported by Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, forced Almontaser from her post. Prior to and during the first semester of the school’s existence, Almontaser was replaced by two principals, neither of whom possesses her exceptional academic qualifications, her leadership capabilities, her relationship with the school community, nor her knowledge of Arabic language and culture.
    KGIA was attacked by a small group of fear-mongering bigots. It was labeled a “terrorist school” and a “madrassa.” But this campaign of slander has been met by a broad coalition supporting the school and its intended principal, including leading organizations spanning the many diverse communities in New York. This coalition is pursuing every channel to restore Almontaser to her rightful position and to clear her name and her reputation.
    Debbie Almontaser did nothing wrong. She committed no crime. She violated no rules nor any terms of her contract. She was forced to resign after doing nothing more than answering a reporter’s question about the root meaning of the word “intifada.”
    For those of us working in the field of education, the treatment of Debbie Almontaser represents a threat not only to our rights as educators and citizens in a democratic society; it is also an attack on the small-schools movement and on the push for diversity and equity within our system of public education. Will bigotry be allowed to decide which public schools can exist and who can lead them?
    We the undersigned insist that Debbie Almontaser be returned to her post as founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
    Bernadette Anand, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
    Gary Anderson, Steinhardt School of Education, N.Y.U.
    Rick Ayers, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
    William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Carmen Colon, Association of NYC’s Educated Communities
    Kathleen Cushman, Education Writer
    Lisa Delpit, Center for Urban Education and Innovation, F.I.U.
    Michelle Fine, The Graduate Center – City University of New York
    Ofelia Garcia, Teachers College, Columbia University
    Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia University
    Kris D. Gutierrez, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA
    Paula Hajar, Bronx Charter School for Better Learning
    Annette Henry, Education Program, University of Washington, Tacoma
    Jay P. Heubert, Teachers College, Columbia University
    Mike Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop
    Susan Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop
    Kevin Kumashiro, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Carol Lee, Northwestern University
    Sally Lee, Teachers Unite
    Linda Levine, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
    Tara Mack, Education for Liberation Network
    Edwin Mayorga, New York Collective of Radical Educators
    Deborah W. Meier, Steinhardt School of Education, N.Y.U.
    Jon Moscow, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
    Arwa Nasser, United Nations International School
    Donna Nevel, Center for Immigrant Families
    Pedro A. Noguera, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, N.Y.U.
    Gary Orfield, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA
    Granville Leo Stevens, Independent Parents Organizations
    *affiliations listed for identification purposes

    KGIA: NY PUBLIC SCHOOL Madrassah is Moved for 3RD Time

    Reprinted from Atlasshrugs- 
    Like pitbulls seized on an unwitting victim the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), New York’s Public Arabic school, is refusing to release an innocent parent student body from its chokehold. The currently failing school is moving to a top performing school in the Fort Green section. And the parents are not happy about it.
    Mark Steyn understands the implications. Mark Steyn said this  of the Arabic public school opening in NY on my show a few months back;
    ” it shows how we mischaracterized, we willfully misunderstand Islam. Yes, on the face of it yes Arabic is a language in a sense there is would be no difference between opening a foreign language school – a Spanish language school or a french language school – but in fact Arabic is more than a language. It is explicated the language of Islam so in that sense it is part of the Islamic religious imperial project. Radical Islam advances through the Arabic language. And you go all kinds of places that aren’t in the Arab world now like Pakistan, Indonesia, Central Asia, the Balk ins, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States and you will here those Imams preaching in Arabic. Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an idea logical project that is deeply opposed to the United States
    We need a specific amendment declaring seperation of Mosque and state becuase whatever we got now ain’t working.
    But Some Parents at P.S. 287 Object To Sharing Space
    by Mary Frost
    FORT GREENE — The Department of Education has confirmed that the Arabic-themed Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) will be moving from Boerum Hill to a building occupied by P.S. 287, at 50 Navy St., near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

    Parents also say that there are space issues at the school.

    But parents at P.S. 287, who were told about the move at an “emergency” meeting Wednesday evening, say they are outraged.
    “They ambushed us,” said Matrice Sherman, mother of two students at P.S. 287. “Garth Harries [DOE’s Chief Portfolio Officer], when he met with us last time, said there would be a dialog, and that they would hear our concerns.
    “Who did he speak to? Not to the people at this school.”  Read more…

    Almontaser Will Never be KGIA’s Principal But Who is Teaching These Children?

    Today the  federal appeals court stated Dhabah “Debby” Almontaser cannot force New York City to give her another opportunity  to reapply as Principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed  that Almontaser was acting in her official capacity as interim principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy when she defined “Intifada” as a “shaking off” to the NY Post.  The NYC Intifada T-shirt was produced and distributed by AWAAM, a group closely affiliated with Almontaser.  They are the lead organization supporting her reinstatement.

     Almontaser’s connection to the AWAAM group is not tenuous; she is both a founder and board member of the Yemeni American Association (SABA – YAA), and the AWAAM website (before it was quickly revised after the t-shirt exposé) directed “Contact Us” information to the YAA. The AAFSC, primary sponsors of KGIA, also sponsored the event where the t-shirts were sold. Her own words defending the “Intifada NYC” slogan were the greatest evidence against her being in charge of any institution, as quoted in the New York Post :

    “The word [intifada] basically means ’shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic,” she said.

    “I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don’t believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City.

    “I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society . . . and shaking off oppression.”

    Almontaser’s inability to define the Intifada for what it is- a murderous campaign to kill and maim  Israeli citizens – is understandable in light of her political viewpoints.  She opposes the War on Terror and she blames the US for the 9-11 attacks as described in her interview in 2002 to Amnesty International’s Norwegian office  shortly after 9-11.  She supports numerous radical organizations, including the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

    Public Schools are not the venue for the furthering of Islamic ideology.  Youssef M. Ibrahim’s article, “The Islamist Trojan Horse is Already in Place” explains,  “Seemingly separate but unquestionably part of the same process of spreading militancy among immigrant Arab communities was the Debbie Almontaser episode of the Khalil Gibran School saga, in which what she saw as a benign use of the word “intifada” led to her being forced to quit as the school’s principal. Neither Ms. Almontaser’s project nor her unstated intention to create a Muslim school in Brooklyn under the guise of multiculturalism took place in a void. The common task among all these organizations and individuals is to instill the notion there are no Arab-Americans, only Muslim Americans.

    What follows next, of course, is the “community’s” eventual embrace of jihad against the values and policies of the majority infidel. This is what has taken place in Britain among native British subjects of Muslim origin.” [http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0907/ibrahim092507.php3 ]  

    It is unfortunate that the NYC Department of Education did not investigate Almontaser and the Islamic partnering organizations she brought into the school before announcing its opening.  Stop the Madrassa understood the agenda and was forced to do what the DOE would not;  investigate, educate, and attempt to protect NYC school children from an Islamic political agenda.  Almontaser is gone but the infrastructure she built is still in place.  What exactly are these children exposed to, and given the individuals and partnering organizations involved, what perspective on the Middle East and America is being taught?  We will continue to keep the public informed.  Hopefully the NYCDOE will begin to do their part.

    New York City Parents On Collision Course Again With Dept. Of Education Over Khalil Gibran International Academy Move

    New York City Parents On Collision Course Again With Dept. Of Education Over Khalil Gibran International Academy Move

    By Sara Springer, special to PipeLineNews.org

    February 29, 2008 – Brooklyn, NY – PipeLineNews.org – This week the NYC Department of Education informed the Khalil Gibran International Academy’s PTA that the school would be relocated for the September 2008 school year. Yet with all the planning, the intended target for KGIA, PS 287 in Fort Green, doesn’t have the required space and the proposed move is running into a firestorm of resistance from parents who feel their school is an inappropriate choice for the controversial Arabic school which has been called a madrassah.

    In an effort to quell the growing dissent, on the evening of February 27, Garth Harries, DOE Officer of Portfolio Development, came to PS 287 where he faced an angry gathering of parents, outraged that their school had been chosen with little consultation.

    As has been the case since the inception of KGIA, the DOE has been a model of non-transparency. That stonewalling continues, for example on February 4, the PTA requested a copy of KGIA’s curriculum, yet nearly a month later nothing has been forwarded.

    A parent from the school told this reporter that she attempted to visit KGIA today, stating she “was poorly received,” and had not been allowed to enter. At the meeting she rose, chiding Harries, “The school is so secretive, how can you ask us to have a school here if we don’t know what’s going on?”

    Indicative of the bad blood between parents and the DOE, another demanded, “How can we trust you when you lied to us about the high school [The School for Law and Justice] being here for one year?” This in reference to a promise by DOE that the high school [now in its fourth year] was to be moved after the first school year.

    With the prospect of normalcy returning to PS 287 now dashed by the announcement of the KGIA move, parents and school officials fear that enrollment will decrease further because of the negative publicity surrounding KGIA. If the move goes forward, once again pre-k, kindergarten, and elementary age children will be forced to mix with high school students. This is a potentially unhealthy situation which caused one parent to state, “It’s not safe to be with high school kids. They’re out of control. We can’t bring kids into the playground.”

    The President of another school’s PTA acknowledged the problem, of co-mingling children of such diverse ages, observing, “Older kids beat up younger kids.” Harries shrugged the objection off, noting that that this is happening all around the city.

    Despite statements to the contrary made by his aides, Harries told the gathering that the decision to move wasn’t final, thus contradicting a statement by DOE representative, Gabrielle Ferghetti, who earlier had stated that the move is a “done deal.” As the PTA president explained, “She came to let us know. She didn’t answer my questions. It was a courtesy call.” Harries apologized, responding, “That young lady works for me. That’s not what she told me she said.”

    The question of veracity always looms when dealing with the DOE and KGIA; are they capable of telling the truth?

    Another perspective was expressed by a parent who noted the frustration of many as she accused Haries and the DOE of favoritism, “Are you here to help all schools or are you here to focus on a particular race, religion, and community? You’re focused on the success of KGIA. You are not concerned with the success of our school.”

    One got the impression that the opposition within PS 287 against KGIA’s intrusion is rising, led by a savvy and knowledgeable group of parents who let the DOE know that their community school and children would no longer be made a pawn in Chancellor Klein’s divisive policy of forced multiculturalism.

    As the evening concluded a defiant spirit was in the air, with one parent challenging Harries, “Tell Chancellor Klein, don’t send messages through you. He’s not doing us a favor [by sending you]. Go back and tell the Chancellor the answer is no, no, no. We want him here and we want Mayor Bloomberg here. Tell the Chancellor you don’t mix Church and State.” Another parent added, “We as parents have the right to have what we want for our children. They can only take what we allow them to take.”

    ©1999-2008 Sara Springer, PipeLineNews.org LLC, all rights reserved. 

    [http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=kgia2.29.08%2Ehtm]

     

     
     
     

    P.S. 287 Parents Say No, No, No to KGIA

    Last night the NYC Department of Education told Khalil Gibran International Academy’s PTA that their school was being relocated for the September 2008 school year.  After all the planning, the DOE has chosen a school that didn’t have the required space. 

    Concerned NYC parents are once again confronted with the controversial KGIA affecting their children and school environment. Tonight Garth Harries, Officer of Portfolio Development, came to P.S. 287 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to face an angry gathering of parents.  Their school has been chosen as KGIA’s new location.   

    Precedents of DOE stonewalling and lack of transparency continue. 

    On February 4th,

    the PTA requested a copy of KGIA’s curriculum. 

    Nothing has been forwarded. 

     A mother said she visited KGIA today.  A secretary came out and she “was poorly received”. She was not allowed in.  She asked Harries, “The school is so secretive, how can you ask us to have a school here if we don’t know what’s going on?”   

    Another parent wanted to know, “How can we trust you when you lied to us about the high school (The School for Law and Justice) being here for one year?” Originally the high school was suppose to move after one year.  As is common DOE practice, parents are told this when in reality many years go by before a school is relocated.  The high school is leaving P.S. 287 after a four year stay.  Parents have been looking forward to next year when they would finally get their school back and reinstate programs lost when the high school moved in.  A parent noted that a high school is leaving the building and a middle and high school are entering.   

    KGIA is moving in because the DOE says the building is under utilized.  However, parents maintain that the school lost enrollment when parents pulled their children out because older children were in the building.  Fears are high that enrollment will decrease should KGIA and its negative publicity move into their elementary school.  

    Once again they are facing the problem of having teenagers mingle with pre-k, kindergarten, and elementary age school children.  One parent said, “It’s not safe to be with high school kids.  They’re out of control.  We can’t bring kids into the playground.”  A PTA President of another school described the dangerous practice of the DOE bringing middle and high school students into elementary schools. “Older kids beat up younger kids.”  Garth Harries’ answer was that this practice is happening all around the city. 

    Harries was corrected by a parent when he told the gathering that the decision wasn’t final.  At a school leadership meeting three weeks ago DOE representative, Gabrielle Ferghetti, clearly stated to all that the move is a done deal. The PTA President explained, “She came to let us know.  She didn’t answer my questions.  It was a courtesy call.”   Harries apologized, responding, “That young lady works for me.  That’s not what she told me she said.”  The question with the DOE always remains, “Who is telling the truth?” 

    After Harries repeatedly sang the praises of KGIA and justified its agenda several times, a mother expressed the frustration of many when she said, “Are you here to help all schools or are you here to focus on a particular race, religion, and community?  You’re focused on the success of KGIA.  You are not concerned with the success of our school.” 

    A very savvy and knowledgeable group of parents gathered tonight to let the NYCDOE know that their community school and children would no longer be taken advantage of.  A hard-working community, many of whom are single-mothers, will not let the fact that the DOE thinks they are too busy and exhausted with earning a living to care about what’s happening with their children.  This group of parents will do whatever it takes.  As one parent said, “Tell Chancellor Klein, don’t send messages through you.  He’s not doing us a favor [by sending you].  Go back and tell the Chancellor the answer is no, no, no.  We want him here and we want Mayor Bloomberg here. Tell the Chancellor you don’t mix Church and State.”  Another parent added, “We as parents have the right to have what we want for our children.  They can only take what we allow them to take.” 

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