Is Islam “inculcation” in schools a real thing? Some Virginia parents are up in arms this week — leading to two dozen schools closing down — after a homework assignment requested students to practice calligraphy using Arabic writing. A number of parents in Augusta County, Virginia, were angered by this assignment, finding it to be part of a subtle agenda to promote the religion of Islam. News Max reports on this breaking story this Friday, December 18, 2015.
Following the latest terrorist attack at San Bernardino earlier this month, many people across the United States have been in fear of both foreign and internal threats. A fear of Islam has also rippled across the country in ISIS’ wake, despite the terrorist organization taking radical Islam to the extreme, and being denounced by a vast majority of Muslims across the world, says the press release. Yet communal scares regarding potential Islamic indoctrination of public school students reared its head this week in the form of a homework assignment in a Virginia educational district.
A total of 24 schools were closed this Friday in the wake of this controversial homework assignment regarding Arabic writing and examining the Quran, though no particular threat against the schools was made. It appears the main issue was originally sparked at Riverheads High School after a teacher informed students they were going to learn about calligraphy as part of a geography class involving world religions. Things suddenly went downhill from there.
According to the Business insider, students were asked to practice writing a piece of the Arabic language as part of the calligraphy project. But it wasn’t simply the writing that left some Virginia parents outraged from the homework assignment, but the translation of the writing specifically. The writing was in the words of a Muslim faith statement, meaning: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Needless to say, quite a few Christian families were upset at having students be required to complete this activity. The release also notes that students were presented with copies of a sacred Muslim text, the Quran.
Other statements noted that quite a few students were asked to “dress in a related way” of the Islam homework assignment, notes News Max, and also take part in a photo shoot that would later be part of the school yearbook. Some students and parents drew the line at this alleged request from the World Geography teacher.
“A lot of people got really upset and I refused to do the paper,” shared Laurel Truxell, who is a freshman at Riverheads High School. She offered this statement to WVIR-TV News. “When they asked me to dress up, I said no and the aide said okay, well the teacher pushed and pushed and pushed so I did it, and when she took a picture, I asked for it not to be in the yearbook and she said it was, so that’s when my parents called the school.”
Over 100 parents, students, and other members of the community were part of a school meeting this week to express their outrage over the assignment, including a number of parents claiming their students were falling under an Islam agenda and an unnecessary disclosure with the Muslim faith.
The teacher in question has been identified as Cheryl LaPorte. Upset parents says that students were in fact no less than “deceived” to participate in the controversial homework assignment that eventually led schools in the area to close down. Mrs. Kimberly Herndon is a local parent who helped set up the meeting this Thursday with school officials and other interested families and guardians. She argued that if Christianity is not written or practiced in schools, or if students are not exposed to a Bible, neither should they be participating in “false doctrine.”
“That’s why we need to join together,” Herndon offered to the news station. “If my truth cannot be spoken in schools, I don’t want false doctrine spoken in schools. That’s what keeps it even across the board.”
In light of this outrage, schools closed down all activities late on Thursday afternoon and decided not to have school this Friday. Again, however, no direct threats were made against the Virginia schools, the geography teacher, or the students. “Following parental objections to the world geography curriculum and ensuing related media coverage, the school division began receiving voluminous phone calls and electronic mail locally and from outside the area,” stated the school district. Their statement concludes: “The communications have significantly increased in volume (Thursday) and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff (Randy) Fisher and (superintendent Eric) Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday …”
What is your opinion on this alleged “Islam homework assignment” argument? Are some Christian parents overreacting over a fear of inculcation with the faith of Muslim practitioners, or was this simply a history calligraphy assignment taken out of context? The debate continues into the holiday weekend.