Maryland High School Under Fire Over Islam Curriculum

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A high school in Maryland is in the spotlight for the way it is teaching about Islam. As part of the school’s “World History” curriculum, the La Plata High School high school students were taught extensively about Islam and required to list the benefits of the religion.

The students were not taught about Islam in the context of current events.

One homework assignment, obtained by a news outlet asked questions including, "How did Muslim conquerors treat those they conquered?" The correct answer was, “With tolerance, kindness and respect."

John Kevin Wood, whose daughter attends the school, objected to the teaching of Islam on tax-payer funds without teaching other religions as thoroughly. After a heated discussion with the vice principal about the curriculum — which included Wood using foul language — Wood was banned from the school’s premises.

"I don't force my religious views on them, so don't force your religious views on me," said Wood.

"We cannot discuss our Ten Commandments in school but they can discuss Islam's Five Pillars?" asked Wood’s wife, Melissa, supporting her husband.

The Woods also objected to the fact that, “They’re teaching Islam, but they are not teaching the current events on Islam.”

Wood is a former Marine and a veteran who fought in the Iraqi war. After a heated conservation with the school’s vice principal, the school issued a no-trespassing order, banning Wood from the high school’s campus.

“This parent threatened to cause problems that would potentially disrupt La Plata High School,” said Katie O’Malley-Simpson, Director of Communications for Charles County Public Schools. “[The no-trespass order] is to ensure the safety of the students and staff of the school.”

However, Wood’s version of the conversation is different. "I have witnesses that have said I did not threaten anybody," he said.

The couple initially asked that their daughter be excused from this part of the curriculum and given an alternative assignment, a request which was refused by the school’s administration. Wood was told that the assignment must be done or their daughter will receive a zero.

Wood contends that the school is violating his daughter’s “constitutional rights.”

O’Malley-Simpson says that the “World History” curriculum is one of three social studies modules required for a student to graduate. The other two include American History and U.S. Government

“If a certain book is required for Language Arts, but the main lesson is for students to read and discuss a book and analyze the writing, an alternative assignment is easily given,” O’Malley-Simpson said. “That’s not the case with World History or other history classes, because the content is what it is. If you miss that lesson, you haven’t met the standards of that class.”

However, there are modules in the high school that a student is allowed to opt out, for example, sex education. 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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