The line between educating students about a religion and promoting the faith is trampled in a booklet being used in public schools, writes Janet Tassel at the American Thinker website.
She details the use of The Arab World Notebook in a suburban Boston public high school. The teacher spent a day each to cover Christianity and Judaism, but devoted more than two weeks to studying Islam. And among the claims in the Notebook is that there is no Quranic justification for subjugating women and that the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is a modern fabrication.
Tassel describes the reaction of Tony Pagliuso, whose daughter was in the class. He dismissed the text as "total propaganda," and complained to the teacher.
Her explanation? Well, it came from Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, so it must be good. But the American Jewish Committee critiqued the book in 2005, finding it is "largely designed to advance the anti-Israel and propagandistic views of the Notebook's sponsors, the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) and Arab World and Islamic Resources (AWAIR), to an audience of teachers who may not have the resources and knowledge to assess this text critically."
MEPC is Saudi-funded, Tassel writes.
Thankfully, the superintendent in the Boston-area case agreed the chapter at issue "didn't meet the learning goals of the class" and had it removed from the curriculum. But that's just one school district. The AJC report found the Notebook fails to distinguish "fact and interpretation" or which accounts "within traditional Islam are disputed or unverifiable."
It's one thing to teach students about various religions. It's quite another to use sources which advocate for a faith. Tassel cites textbook watchdog William J. Bennetta, who found the "promotion of Islam in the Notebook is unrestrained," and the religious-indoctrination material that the Notebook dispenses is virulent."
It's a wonder educators are unable to see that.