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Texas School District Investigates Muslim Bias in School, Finds Christian Bias Instead

A perfect example of fear-mongering backfires.
 
 
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Islamophobia has been spreading like wildfire across Texas. Avi Selk reported today that a chain email sent to the Irving school district and across Texas made some waves. Selk writes, "Back in late October, someone named Ginger Russell sent a chain email with the subject 'IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM' to school board members and district officials" and other emails instructed Christians to "stand up against the pro Islamic teaching in our public schools."

The alleged indoctrination had to do with the fact that the district uses a state-wide teaching program called CSCOPE, which is put together by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, administered by an organization called Region 10.

Selk writes that district officials took the claims seriously enough to reach out to Region 10, which tried to reassure the school's board members that the program meets all state requirements. When that wasn't enough they hired someone to review the curriculum for Islamic bias. Selk writes:

The director, Jan Moberly, said she hired a "very socially and fiscally conservative" former social studies teacher who "watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis" to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE.

Guess what Moberly found? There was religious bias, but in fact it was a bias against Islam. Christianity got the highest billing, with twice as many mentions as any other religion in CSCOPE.

Russell's fear-mongering turned out to be as valid as the mythical war on Christmas. But the revelation that there is bias against Islam is nothing new for many of the country's young Muslims. Teaching Tolerance lists a few of the many incidents that have been reported in schools:

  • In St. Cloud, Minn., a high school student created a short-lived Facebook group called "I hate the Somalians at Tech High." The area is home to one of the largest groups of Somali refugees in the country, many of whom are Muslim.
  • In Oklahoma, a student was suspended after wearing a hijab, or headscarf, at school on September 11, although she had worn it for weeks before.
  • In Massachusetts, when a Cambridge store burned down, Muslim high school students were asked by classmates if they bombed the store.
  • In New York, four high school students were charged with a hate crime after spending more than a year bullying a Muslim classmate, occasionally beating him and calling him a terrorist.

As Teaching Tolerance reports, "there is a strong correlation between a child's sense of inclusion and academic success." That makes it even more of a shame that school districts like Irving are wasting their time fanning the flames of the Right's culture wars.

Tara Lohan is a freelance writer and former senior editor at AlterNet. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis, including Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource. Follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan or visit her website, taralohan.com.

 
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