A retired Florida teacher contacted Clarion Project after we published the article “Why Is This Being Taught in Public Schools?” That piece told the story of a West Virginia parent who was upset after his daughter was asked to write the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith, as part of “calligraphy practice” in her world religion class.
What follows is the response from the former teacher – one of several we received this week:
Speaking as a retired Florida educator, this has been going on for over 30 years. Not necessarily in writing the Islamic conversion verse and calling it practicing “calligraphy,” but in terms of elevating one religion over all others.
When I started teaching world history way back in the late 1990’s, I was leafing through my well-worn textbooks and formulating plans for the coming year. I noticed something that struck me as very odd, even then.
Let me break down the structure of secondary school social studies texts, at least in Florida.
Each chapter is broken down into lessons of about five to 10 pages each. The number of lessons per chapter averages four, with some going as long as five or as short as three depending on content.
As I flipped through my very first professional text to educate “my” new students, I was concerned.
In covering world religions, the textbook covered the Asian philosophies with their own lesson each. Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism and others got their own lesson. Judaism and Christianity? A section of a lesson each, not even rating their own individual lessons.
Islam? Four total chapters. Not lessons. Chapters. Each chapter having three to four lessons! I wish I’d kept one of those old books.
All history classes in Florida are divided in half. Makes sense. History is the only subject that keeps extending by the year. When I first started teaching, I covered everything in one year. But now, middle school takes care of the foundations and senior high gets into the details and inferences.
The emphasis on Islam far predates 9/11. It’s scary. In Florida, world history is mandated for the eighth and ninth grades. A very impressionable age. Very little in the way of critical thinking skills.
Written anonymously by a retired educator in Florida.