Mayor Bloomberg, when you send a team of transfat experts to the school will you make good on your Chancellor of Education Joel Klein’s promise to monitor the Khalil Gibran International Academy for political and/or religious content in textbooks, teacher handouts, and lesson plans? With an Advisory Board of radical Islamist Imams, Priests, and Rabbis, New Yorkers are asking themselves why isn’t there an official monitoring board in place at the Khalil Gibran International Academy public school as promised? We are also aware that if questions about what would be taught in the school weren’t raised there would be a halal lunch offered to public school students. Has our Mayor and Department of Education forgotten about the Separation of Church and State? New Yorkers haven’t and feel that this is a dangerous precedent.
Here is a list of excellent questions that can be used by the monitoring board. It is part of an excellent article written by M.Zhudi Jasser, founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, explaining the urgent need for public accountability for “Islamic” educational institutions in the U.S.
Discerning Islamist from non-Islamist Schools – a guide to begin the debate
The only way to counter such an insidious ideological insurgency is for us as a nation to undertake a far-reaching analysis and public discussion about what students at these Islamic schools are actually being taught about ‘sharia’ law and its role in the society. Here are a few questions American communities may want to pose to principals and curriculum coordinators of local Islamic schools in order to understand whether the school has a political agenda in its teachings or not.
1. How does the school teach American history and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? What is taught about the struggle of our founding fathers against theocracy? Is European Enlightenment ideology taught? Are students encouraged to learn from non-Muslim philosophers especially those who influenced our founding fathers and taught liberty and freedom?
2. Are students taught that sharia is only personal or that it also specifically guides governmental law? Does their answer change whether Muslims are a minority or a majority?
3. Do they view non-Islamic private and public schools as part of a culture of ‘immorality’ and decadence since they are not Islamicized or can non-Islamic schools be morally and equally virtuous?
4. Do they teach their children that ‘being American’ and being ‘free’ is about moral corruption or is being American and free about loving the nation in which they live and sharing equal status before the law regardless of faith tradition?
5. Is complete religious freedom a central part of faith and the practice of religion? In the Islamic school, how are children treated who refuse to participate in school faith practices?
6. Are the children taught Muslim exclusivism with regards to the attainment of paradise in the Hereafter? From that, are the children also taught that government and public institutions must thus be ‘Islamic’ in order for the community as a whole to be able to enter the gates of Heaven?
7. How are student discussions, debate, and intellectual discourses approached regarding American domestic and foreign policy? Do the teachers have a political agenda? Does that agenda demonstrate a dichotomy between Islamist interests and American interests?
8. Is the historical period of Muslim rule of Spain (Andalusia) taught in the context of the history of the world during the Middle Ages or is it looked upon as superior to current day American ideology even after the advances of the Enlightenment?
9. Is the pledge of allegiance administered every day at the beginning of the school day?
Certainly, this analysis and exposure would not be in any way to limit the freedom of Muslims to establish and operate these private educational facilities. But rather, quite the contrary, with exposure of the political Islamist agenda of many of these schools, Islamist schools will be slowly marginalized or obligated to reform. Then the non-Islamist and anti-Islamist schools will flourish while teaching reasoned pluralistic Islamic thought wholly compatible with the foundational principles of America.
Mayor Bloomberg, before you dismiss this as a problem affecting only private educational institutions note-
“A few receive direct government support as charter schools which is incomprehensible in the setting of what should be a separation of religion and state in America.” [emphasis added] KGIA is a public school supported with taxpayer dollars.
The scope of the problem – taxpayer complicity
A recent 2004 study by the NCES documented 182 Islamic private schools in the United States. Just last week the Voice of America trumpeted a report that, “Muslim Americans Establish own Schools in the U.S.” This statement of fact was presented with the apparent assumption that such a fact was good for Muslims and good for America. That would be the case if Islamism was not being taught and they would in fact be an asset if anti-Islamist ideas were being encouraged and debated. However, the simple fact that the schools taught Arabic seemed enough to the VOA reporters. Someone needs to inform them that translation services are often only as good as the ideological and political agenda of the translators themselves. In today’s oversimplified discourse on Islam it seems to matter little to the media or government whether Islamic schools are creating growing legions of pro-Islamist Muslims or not.
Let us also not forget that many of these institutions are operating with tax benefits and tacit government endorsement. A few receive direct government support as charter schools which is incomprehensible in the setting of what should be a separation of religion and state in America. Others, however, receive indirect government support through tax incentives as exists in Arizona or voucher programs as have been implemented in Ohio. There needs to be a greater public awareness of whether the ideology taught at these schools is compatible with Americanism and freedom as we know it. http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/challenges.php?id=1385607#