Blueprint: Your guide for controlling the Augusta County Schools curriculum
Augusta County Schools just laid out a blueprint for how any of us can change the education curriculum: start a Facebook group, email a radio host and a few bloggers, demonize a teacher on camera, and … voila.
“Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.”
This from a statement on the county schools website announcing that schools would be closed Friday as part of the fallout from the controversy gemmed up by a group of parents of students at Riverheads High School over a lesson on Arabic culture.
The lesson in question had students practice Arabic calligraphy by copying a passage from the Kuran, the shahada, a statement of faith that translates to, “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
“Islamic indoctrination,” it was called, and the lapdog conservative blogosphere and right-wing media ate it up.
Even as locals rallied in support of the teacher, the school system decided to placate the mob.
“The Augusta County School Board and Dr. Bond appreciate parents bringing concerns directly to our attention, and a constructive and respectful dialogue between school and community is always welcome.”
Seriously, what have we done here? This is your 8-year-old throwing a fit because you don’t give him a piece of chocolate cake, giving in to try to calm him down, and then wondering the next time he throws a fit about wanting a piece of cake if you’re the one in charge, or if he is.
So let’s just imagine how this plays out next time. A history teacher starts a unit on the Civil War talking about the role the political battle over slavery played in the tensions leading up to the start of hostilities. A group of parents objects that the focus is taken away from states’ rights and emails Rush Limbaugh, and, there you go.
A government teacher organizes a lesson on terrorism by having students engage in a role-playing game that brings a terror attack to life. I bring this one up as a real-life example: my Current Events teacher, in the spring of 1990, had our class re-enact the hijacking of a plane by Armenian terrorists aiming to win the release of political prisoners.
I was assigned the role of terrorist ringleader. My squad was gunned down on the tarmac, but we did get the negotiators to agree to broadcast a live interview with Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News to bring attention to our cause, and we took Brokaw with us to paradise in the shootout.
We can all guess how that classroom lesson would go over in the context of the manufactured outrage over the shahada.
We won’t have to guess anymore. If you don’t want your kids to learn about terror attacks, all you have to do is start a Facebook group.
Don’t like how your kid’s civics teacher plans her lesson on the symbolism of the Confederate flag? There’s a right-wing blogger looking for clickbait willing to help you out.
Evolution – by God, they still teach that monkey stuff in schools?
Throw a fit. Augusta County schools will make sure you can have your cake, and eat it, too.
– Column by Chris Graham
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