A public school charter school for teaching Hebrew and regular subjects will start in September in Florida. Let’s compare the Ben Gamla school in Broward county, Florida with the Khalil Gibran International Academy. But first, a couple words on teaching language.
Some people argue that any language associated with a single religion (Latin, Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Russian, Sanskrit etc.) should not be taught in public school under any circumstances because it is hard to separate the language from the underlying religious tradition. Given world history, this would eliminate a lot of language courses, and freshmen in college would be much happier.
But we don’t agree. As parents and teachers, we want more language training in strategic languages especially, taught without propaganda or proselytizing. Let’s not let language training be hijacked by radical groups who make no secret of their Islamist and anti-American agenda, even if they are keeping secret the curricula of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
Now, let’s see how a county does this better, namely Broward County in Florida. New York City and Board of Education authorities, take notes – it will be on the final.
The Ben Gamla Charter School in Broward County is a Charter School within the Florida public school system, so it is roughly comparable to Khalil Gibran International Academy. Reasonable people can disagree with having a school dedicated primarily to teaching Hebrew – or Arabic – using public monies, but the management of the introduction of this school has been far more responsive to public concerns and public scrutiny. Here are some lessons for New York from the Florida example:
Let the people know what you’re going to teach – no, not in evasive generalities. In specifics: Ben Gamla submitted a complete curricula for approval months ago – the NETA curriculum. It’s public, it was reviewed and the Board staff decided the language was associated with religious symbolism. No problem. They came back with another curriculum, the Hayesod curriculum. It had already been approved by the state and was being used Hollywood Hills High School. Everyone knows what they’ll be teaching at Ben Gamla next year.
Not in New York: One month is left before school starts and the NYC authorities still are stonewalling on revealing any curricula information to the public.
Don’t just hope that the school won’t teach religion or hardcore Islamist propaganda, check and see – no, not once a year at the open house. Make a real plan to do some serious monitoring. In Florida, they not only have a monitoring plan, according to Susan Onori, the coordinator for charter schools, they already have assembled the monitoring team.
Not in New York: Khalil Gibran and the NYC authorities, one month before opening, have as yet to discuss monitoring. Plan? Team? Keep moving, nothing to see here…
Listen to the community organizations demanding separation of church and state, not the ones with representatives who are on boards of Sharia law and running their own private urban madrassas. In Florida, Eric Stillman, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Broward County, urged the Board to carefully monitor the school for church and state violations.
Not in New York: In the Khalil Gibran school, local Islamist organizations – like the Muslim Consultative Network, which includes the Majlis Ash Shura, the largest network of local imams and Shariah Law, and KGIA principal Almontaser – are pressuring the school board to just keep stonewalling public FOIL requests for information.
New York authorities, it’s almost August. Time for a Florida vacation to Broward County for an educational field trip.
Or did you have something to hide?