Arabic Assignment Closing Schools Begs Bigger Question
Statement from Augusta County Public Schools
The Washington Post
A Virginia school system has decided to close schools Friday after a high school geography assignment on world religions led to allegations of Islamic indoctrination and a slew of angry emails and phone calls.
Augusta County School District officials said that there had been no specific threat of harm to students. But in a statement posted on the school district’s website, officials said they were concerned about the “tone and content of these communications.”
“We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County School Board out of an abundance of caution,” the statement says.
Read the rest of the story at The Washington Post
“The wave of Islamophobia that we are seeing today is far worse than anything that came after 9/11. It is troubling, but, sadly, isn’t new to American society. It is reminiscent of anti-Anarchist legislation of 1903, the Red Scare panic after World War I, and the panic over Japanese-Americans during World War II. In all these cases, fear of internal enemies merged with nativism and racism. The result was panic and, frankly, some of the most embarrassing acts of official bigotry in our country’s history. Once again, we are failing to live up to the promise of American diversity. Moreover, even from a security perspective, what we are doing now is clearly a bad idea: it is precisely anti-Islamic rhetoric that is most likely to spark Islamist radicalism.” – Howard Eissenstat, PhD Associate Professor at St. Lawrence University
The recent closing of schools in Virginia is either an aberration or a sign of change in American education. How can we decipher true and imminent danger and how has our society changed for the foreseeable future? This is a slippery slope we are teetering on to cancel school over class instruction instilling practices of doubt in other districts.
At what point do we stop educating students on entire continents or cease lesson plans that cover religions and cultures currently deemed dangerous? We must trust in our students to take in and process complex information and come to their own conclusions. Altering lessons in a world where technology is the ultimate editor of information only speaks to our own ignorance and lack of big-picture thinking.