350 parents and citizens are pushing back against the religious education of their children in Tennessee’s public schools.
At a town hall gathering of the White County Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination in Sparta, Tennessee, they heard a presentation by Usama Dakdok (an Egyptian Christian who immigrated to the United States) that documented in excruciating detail the historical inaccuracies found in the seventh grade Social Studies textbook myWorld History and Geography: The Middle Ages to Exploration of the Americas, approved last August for use by the White County School Board.
The Pearson Education textbook adopted by White County was written to comply with the Islam-centric seventh grade Social Studies standards adopted by Tennessee for the 2014-2015 academic year.
According to a press release from the White County parents group:
Dakdok .. spent nearly two hours dissecting the textbook chapter on the Islamic World and comparing what is contained in the text against what is actually contained in the Koran and other foundational documents of Islam.
“This book is not ‘accurate and unbiased’,” Dakdok noted while holding up the textbook, “it is FICTION.” Dakdok specifically pointed out that a portion of the textbook claiming the Islamic Empire spread because of “religious toleration” shown to other faiths (page 87) is clearly false. “It was false then and is false now, as is evident in the world today in any area where Islam is in control and other faiths are not allowed to be practiced freely and openly. Just ask the Syrian Christians.” Dakdok provided numerous other specific examples of false, inaccurate and pro-Islam biased information contained in the textbook.
White County School Board member Roy Whited doubled down on the merits of the controversial textbook the parents group says promotes Islam with “inaccurate and pro-Islam biased information.”
“We found absolutely nothing wrong with that material [on Islam in the Pearson textbook],” Whited told WSMV Channel 4.
Whited also claimed he had personal experience teaching the exact same material in a Tennessee high school, either 20 or 30 years ago:
Whited said he taught the same thing 20 years ago. He also said students are required by the state to become proficient in the material.
“If would be unfair to the teachers and the students if you say you can’t teach this, and then they are tested with the state-mandated test,” he said.
Whited had a slightly different description of his previous teaching experience when he spoke with Breitbart News on Wednesday.
“I taught the same content on the Islamic religion 30 years ago,” Whited told Breitbart News in a phone interview on Wednesday.
When Breitbart News asked if he taught exactly the same content to seventh graders (the grade at which the new Islam-centric standards are focused), Whited admitted that he had not taught “the same content” to seventh graders.
“I taught [‘the same content’] at Clark Range High School (in Tennessee) to ninth graders,” Whited said.
The Pearson Education seventh grade Social Studies textbook currently in use in White County was first published in 2015. Two or three decades ago, when Whited was teaching ninth graders in Tennessee, textbook publishers did not publish books specific to Tennessee’s teaching standards. Instead, Tennessee schools purchased textbooks written to the specifications of larger states, like Texas or California.
When Breitbart News pressed Whited to identify the name of the textbook he used when he taught what he claimed was “the same content” 30 years ago, he responded by attacking Breitbart News.
“I read your article [Parent Rebellion Brewing in Tennessee Over Islam-Centric Educational Standards]. Your article is misrepresentative of the truth,” Whited said.
When Breitbart News asked Whited to specify in detail the claimed inaccuracies in the article, he responded by saying “I have no comment to you. You are a propaganda spreading organization,” and then hung up.
Kyle Mallory, the 2014 VFW Tennessee Teacher of the Year for Grades 6 to 8 who has eight years experience teaching seventh grade Social Studies in Tennessee public schools, tells Breitbart News a very different story.
“About 20 years ago about half the seventh grade Social Studies curriculum was devoted to Tennessee standards by themselves. Most school systems had two social studies books, one for Tennessee standards and the other for geography. At some point over 10 years ago we went to the standards of about 4 to 5 weeks of Tennessee material. Today there are none.” Mallory says.
“Prior to last year,” Mallory notes, “Islam was discussed in seventh grade classes along with the other major religions but not the amount as today.”
“Prior to these new standards—I’m talking about the standards in place from about 2008 to 2013— each religion was discussed for about two days of the entire academic year. Under the new standards that discussion time has been extended to three or more weeks for Islam,” Mallory adds.
“If it was discussed at all 20 years ago as Mr. Whited first claimed, or 30 years ago as he now claims, it would have been even less than it was discussed under the most recent standards from 2008 to 2013,” he continues.
“I compare this to saying you have visited the Grand Canyon – twenty years ago it was a fly over in a 747. Today it’s camping there a week with an untrained tour guide. There’s a big difference,” Mallory notes.
“It’s appears that that Mr. Whited has not done his homework about these new seventh grade Social Studies standards before going on the record,” Mallory concludes.
As Breitbart News reported previously, the White County parents group his hired attorney James R. Omer, who sent the White County School Board a letter on October 19 demanding that the board reverse its policies and open up textbook review and approval meetings to the general public.
The group also demanded that the White County School Board:
(1) “[S]elect textbooks that promote the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage, our republican form of government, and the principles of federalism.
(2) Not discipline or discourage Teachers, Principals and School Personnel “for reporting inaccuracies or errors or potentially inflammatory material in textbooks or other educational materials to supervisors, elected officials, or parents or guardians; prohibits requiring a teacher or other educator to agree not to report inaccuracies or errors or potentially inflammatory material in textbooks or other educational materials, as a condition of employment.”
(3) “[I]nclude on their website; a copy of social studies state standards, a summary of the basic content of the instruction, a statement of a parent’s right to review the materials, and information describing a parent’s opportunity to participate in the review of social studies textbooks and supplemental materials.”
(4) Allow parents to “request to remove their child from the instruction without retribution or penalty.”
(5) Allow review of statewide assessments or end of course exams “by teachers, parents and taxpayers, or school boards prior to administration of exam to confirm students are not being tested on their knowledge of any religion.”
The White County School Board has scheduled a special meeting for Friday in order to hire an attorney. It is unclear if the meeting will be open to the public, as state law requires.
The White County parents group says the school board members should not be able to hire attorneys to represent them on the public dime because the actions taken by the board related to the adoption of the controversial textbook were taken in violation of the board’s own policies and state law.