Progressive media ridiculed a handful of harmless middle aged and senior citizens peacefully protesting outside the gates of the nation’s first Arabic Immersion Magnet School in the Houston Independent School District (ISD). The Arabic immersion school opened yesterday for 132 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.
The protest group numbered about 30 people, at its height. They waved American and Israeli flags in solidarity of Western and Judeo-Christian values. Some had held two flags, others, held homemade protest signs that read: “Everything I ever cared to know about Islam was taught to me by Muslims on 9-11-2001,” “American Schools, American Kids,” and “Qatar Out of Our Schools.”
Outlets like NewFix insinuated that the mild mannered demonstrators were childlike, “throwing a hissy fit” for having concerns about how their taxpayer dollars were being spent by the public school system. The Houston Press characterized them as “assholes,” and the San Antonio Current mocked their elders as “dunces” and “an embarrassment to decent Texans everywhere.”
Even Houston ISD Chief-of-Staff Jason Spencer went for the cheap shot in an attack tweet that skirted any actual issues:
Question 4 #HISD Arabic school protesters: Are you also protesting US military, CIA and Christian mission groups for teaching the language?
— Jason Spencer (@JSpencer_HISD) August 24, 2015
In news reports, the smattering of civilly obedient dissenters also expressed concerns over any potential Arabic immersion school funding from Qatar. The Qatar Foundation International (QFI) is closely associated with the unsavory Muslim Brotherhood that was founded by Sheikha bint Al Thani, the founder of Al Jazeera, and they give to educational causes.
The Qatar Foundation International granted the Arabic immersion school $75,000, according to the Houston ISD Board of Education’s August 13 meeting agenda documents that break down those earmarked QFI funds.
The grant is for “Arabic language activities and Arab cultural events for students, teacher professional development, educational resources, the promotion of the Arabic language, community outreach, and curriculum development to promote the educational mission of the Arabic Immersion Magnet School,” it states in section D-2 Acceptance of Grant Funds in Support Of Districtwide and School-Specific Programs and Authorization to Negotiate and Execute Contracts Required Under the Grants, Attachment 7.
Because the grant money exceeded $5,000, it had to be approved by the board, although the D-2 packet memo stated that it was part of a summary of grants already awarded to Houston ISD. In writing, the board recommended accepting the grant funds at the bottom of the memo.
In 2013, Tucson Unified School District in Arizona asked its school board for permission to accept QFI money to be used to implement “innovative curricula and teaching materials to be used in any Arabic language classroom,” Family Security Matters reported.
In 2011, QFI partnered with the U.S. Department of Education’s Connect All Schools consortium “to connect every school in the U.S. with the world by 2016” digitally, which President Obama unveiled in a historic 2009 speech in Cairo.
Houston ISD posted opening day photos on its news blog that included several women sporting various degrees of hijabs, the Arabic veil worn by Muslim women.
Greer also called the school demographically diverse, asserting students were divvied up into equal thirds among Hispanic, white and black students. On the news blog, he said: “This year is especially exciting, as we continue to set our sights on making sure our students have access to a truly global education.”
Breitbart Texas originally reported about the Arabic Immersion Magnet School last November. Yesterday, district Superintendent Terry Grier declared Houston the “energy capital of the world,” but that was the same comment he gave last winter as the impetus behind the creation of the school. That, and an apparently overwhelming demand for such a school.
Houston’s KHOU-TV (CBS) reported that Arabic was the second most common spoken language at home, according to the district. In November, the school board claimed the Houston metropolitan area was home to more than 75,000 Arab-Americans, although, those figures did not add up to far more conservative numbers from 2013, which found the local Arabic-speaking population was at 23,300.
A 2014 Greater Houston Partnership white paper did not even account for Arabic as a language spoken at home since it only identified Arab as an ancestry for 0.7 percent (41,653 people) of the Houston metropolitan population, also reported by Breitbart Texas. More over, school district figures listed only 1.3 percent or 855 students who spoke Arabic as a native or “home” language out of the 215,000 total students enrolled last year.
The Houston Chronicle reported that number was up to 925 students this year, bumping Arabic as a home language right behind Spanish speakers. The district has 59,700 Spanish speakers. Houston ISD’s Spanish dual language program nearly doubled from 31 to 52 campuses this school year.
Even though 445 students report Vietnamese as their first language, Houston ISD opened a Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School in 2012, then serving a miniscule 0.5 percent or 319 of all enrolled students.
Last year, Houston school officials actively worked with the Arab American Cultural and Community Center to recruit Arabic-speaking volunteers for the district’s then-754 students whose first language was Arabic to serve an influx of “refugees from Iraq, Egypt and Syria, whose families fled violence and ongoing conflict,” according to KRTK-13 (ABC).
Arabic Immersion Magnet (AIM) School Principal Kate Adams says in “The Importance of Arabic Immersion” district promotional video that the new school will use a 50/50 model where “students spend half their day learning in English and half their day learning in Arabic” for them to eventually become bi-cultural. The pre-k and kindergarten youngsters learn math and science in Arabic but Language Arts and Social Studies in English. Adams said all teachers are native Arabic speakers.
Adams spent a portion of her childhood in Cairo because of her father’s career in the oil business, according to the Houston Chronicle.
She emphasized in the video that students will also learn to “really appreciate the uniqueness of each country in the Arab world.” Adams predicted boundless career opportunities she believed available for fully functionally bi-lingual student who “understand the [Arabic] culture and appreciate how to do business in a very diverse and unique environment.”
The district insists the Arabic Immersion Magnet School is not a religious school.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.