Tennessee 7th Grade Standards Promote Islam, Downplay Christianity

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations is targeting an attempt to eliminate the discussion of “religious doctrine” in Tennessee’s public schools. The measure, proposed by Republican state Rep. Sheila Butt, aims to ensure students get full and fair exposure to world religions.

A Breitbart News investigation reveals that the current seventh grade Social Studies standards, developed in 2013 by a group of ten Tennessee educators led by 30-year-old Jared Myracle (author of Common Core for Parents for Dummies), and adopted by the State of Tennessee for public schools for the 2014-2015 academic year, do, in fact, promote Islam and downplay Christianity. This assessment is based upon a review of the 75 learning objectives specified in the standards.

Those standards are reflected—and even elaborated upon in an Islam-centric fashion—in the Pearson Education textbook adopted by most of Tennessee’s 95 county school boards for the seventh grade, myWorld History and Geography: The Middle Ages to Exploration of the Americas, (2015), written by Frank Karpiel and Kathleen Krull.

In addition, Breitbart News has learned that several parents claim CAIR has provided “supplementary” materials about Islam that have been included in the curriculum of several Tennessee school districts.

Though CAIR self-identifies as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization,” the group “has been associated with radical Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood,” as Breitbart News previously reported in April. And, as National Review Online reported in 2014,”the United Arab Emirates’ ministerial cabinet . . . listed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as one of 83 proscribed terrorist organizations, up there with the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.”

The Tennessee Seventh Grade Social Studies Standards for World History and Geography from 400 A.D. to the 1500s, in place since the 2014-2015 academic year, contain an entire section devoted to the Islamic world, with 10 very detailed learning objectives (representing more than 13 percent of 75 total learning objectives for the entire year):

Seventh Grade World History and Geography: The Middle Ages to the Exploration of the Americas

Islamic World, 400 A.D/C.E. – 1500s

Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the civilizations.

7.3 Identify the physical location and features and the climate of the Arabian Peninsula, its relationship to surrounding bodies of land and water, including Northern Africa, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Nile River.

7.4 Describe the expansion of Muslim rule through conquests and the spread of cultural diffusion of Islam and the Arabic language.

7.5 Trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad, including Islam’s historical connections to Judaism and Christianity.

7.6 Explain the significance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law and their influence in Muslims’ daily life.

7.7 Analyze the origins and impact of different sects within Islam, Sunnis and Shi’ites.

7.8 Examine and summarize the contributions Muslim scholars made to later civilizations in the areas of science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, art, and literature.

7.9 Describe the establishment of trade routes among Asia, Africa, and Europe and the role of merchants in Arab society.

7.10 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources to examine the art and architecture, including the Taj Mahal during the Mughal period. (C, H)

7.11 Explain the importance of Mehmed II the Conqueror and Suleiman the Magnificent.

7.12 Write an explanatory text to describe the Shah Abbas and how his policies of cultural blending led to the Golden Age and the rise of the Safavid Empire.

Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Consider: excerpts from The Hadith, Muhammad; excerpts from The Book of Golden Meadows, Masoudi

In contrast, the section of Tennessee’s current seventh grade standards devoted to the history of Western Europe during the same time period (400 A.D. to the 1500s), contains only two learning objectives related exclusively to Christianity, and those are limited not to its tenets, but instead to the role it played in the political world of the day. Of the ten learning objectives in that section, one also referenced Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the Great Crusades, and one dealt with Islam in Spain. (in ital)

Middle Ages in Western Europe, 400 A.D./C.E. – 1500s

Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the civilizations.

7.32 Identify the physical location and features of Europe including the Alps, the Ural Mountains, the North European Plain, and the Mediterranean Sea and the influence of the North Atlantic Drift.

7.33 Describe the development of feudalism and manorialism, its role in the medieval European economy, and the way in which it was influenced by physical geography (the role of the manor and the growth of towns).

7.34 Demonstrate understanding of the conflict and cooperation between the Papacy and European monarchs, including Charlemagne, Gregory VII, and Emperor Henry IV.

7.35 Examine the Norman Invasion, Battle of Hastings, and the impact of the reign of William the Conqueror on England and Northern France.

7.36 Conduct a short research project explaining the significance of developments in medieval English legal and constitutional practices and their importance in the rise of modern democratic thought and representative institutions including trial by jury, the common law, Magna Carta, parliament, habeas corpus, and an independent judiciary in England.

7.37 Examine the spread of Christianity north of the Alps and the roles played by the early church and by monasteries in its diffusion after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire. 

7.38 Analyze the causes, course, and consequences of the European Crusades and their effects on the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations in Europe, with emphasis on the increasing contact by Europeans with cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean world.

7.39 Explain the importance of the Catholic church as a political, intellectual, and aesthetic institution, including founding of universities, political and spiritual roles of the clergy, creation of monastic and mendicant religious orders, preservation of the Latin language and religious texts, Thomas Aquinas’s synthesis of classical philosophy with Christian theology and the concept of “natural law.”

7.40 Describe the economic and social effects of the spread of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) from Central Asia to China, the Middle East, and Europe, and its impact on the global population.

7.41 Trace the emergence of a modern economy, including the growth of banking, technological and agricultural improvements, commerce, towns, and a merchant class.

7.42 Outline the decline of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula that culminated in the Reconquista, Inquisition, and the rise of Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms.

Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Read: excerpts from The Life of Charlemagne: The Emperor Himself, Einhard; selected accounts of the Black Death; excerpts from Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas

Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Consider: excerpts from “Frank-land”: An Islamic View of the West, Al-Qazwini; excerpts from Walter of Henley’s Husbandry (describes manor life)

Apologists for the current standards claim that Christianity actually was addressed in the sixth grade curriculum. However, Breitbart News has obtained a copy of those Sixth Grade Social Studies Standards and can confirm that those standards include only one learning objective (out of a total of 72 for the year, or just a little more than 1 percent) related to Christianity, and that one was limited to the section devoted to Ancient Rome from 500 BC to 500 AD.:

Sixth Grade World History and Geography: Early Civilizations through the Decline of the Roman Empire (5th century C.E.)

Ancient Rome, c. 500 BC/BCE-500 AD/CE Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the civilizations of Ancient Rome.

6.68 Describe the origins and central features of Christianity.
• monotheism
• the belief in Jesus as the Messiah and God’s Son
• the concept of resurrection
• the concept of salvation
• belief in the Old and New Testaments
• the lives, teachings and contributions of Jesus and Paul
• the relationship of early Christians to officials of the Roman Empire

Standards for the teaching of the Renaissance and Reformation in the seventh grade focus on divisions within the Christian world and political maneuvering of monarchs and leaders of the church rather than beliefs, and argues that Islam played a significant role in the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

For instance, learning objective 7.43 states students should be able to “Trace the emergence of the Renaissance, including influence from Moorish (or Muslim) scholars in Spain.”

The eight learning objectives that referenced Christianity during the Reformation focused primarily on political divisions:

7.47 Analyze the growth and effects of new ways of disseminating information, ability to manufacture paper, translation of the Bible into vernacular, and printing.

7.51 Explain the institution and impact of missionaries on Christianity and the diffusion of Christianity from Europe to other parts of the world in the medieval and early modern periods.

7.52 Locate and identify the European regions that remained Catholic and those that became Protestant and how the division affected the distribution of religions in the New World.

7.53 Explain the heightened influence of the Catholic Church, the growth of literacy, the spread of printed books, the explosion of knowledge and the Church’s reaction to these developments.

7.54 List and explain the significance of the causes for the internal turmoil within and eventual weakening of the Catholic Church including tax policies, selling of indulgences, and England’s break with the Catholic Church.

7.55 Outline the reasons for the growing discontent with the Catholic Church, including the main ideas of Martin Luther (salvation by faith), John Calvin (predestination), Desiderius Erasmus (free will), and William Tyndale (translating the Bible into English), and their attempts to reconcile what they viewed as God’s word with Church action.

7.56 Engage effectively in collaborative discussions explaining Protestants’ new practices of church self-government and the influence of those practices on the development of democratic practices and ideas of federalism.

7.57 Analyze how the Catholic Counter-Reformation revitalized the Catholic Church and the forces that fostered the movement, including St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits, and the Council of Trent.

The teacher most often mentioned in the group of ten that created the standards, Jared Myracle, was very pleased with the praise the standards received from the far-left non profit group, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Myracle, according to his resume, graduated from Union College in 2007, has one year of classroom teaching experience, and received an Ed.D. from Trevecca Nazarene College in 2012.

He currently holds two positions simultaneously: Assistant Director of Schools for McNairy County Schools and Supervisor of Instruction at Gibson County Special School District, according to his Linked In account.

As the Tennessean reported in 2013:

Based on the revisions, “Tennessee will now have the highest-rated civil rights standards in the nation,” said Jared Myracle, supervisor of instruction for Gibson County schools, who led the revision process. Myracle presented the newest plan to state board members on Thursday and included a letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., praising the curriculum.

Critics of the Pearson seventh grade text : myWorld History and Geography: The Middle Ages to Exploration of the Americas, abound.

Dr. Bill French offered this review:

With regards to Islam this textbook rises to half-truth at best. There is a constant apologist bias in refusing to talk about Islamic cruelty. This text is more like propagaganda than critical thought applied to history. The missing pieces are massive in scope. The suffering caused by slavery, jihad, dhimmitude and the Sharia annihilated the native civilizations in Egypt, North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Iraq. Jihad has murdered over 200 million people, but no hint is given. The text does not speak of the Islamic basis for slave trade that supplied the slaves that came to America.

Breitbart News exchanged emails with textbook co-author Karpiel and asked him to respond to Dr. French’s critique. Karpiel declined to comment, and referred us instead to Dominic Chavez, Director of Public Affairs (Southern Region) at Pearson Education.

“While we always are committed to presenting balanced, unbiased, and accurate material, we also are happy to meet with parents and listen to their concerns about curriculum. In fact, just this week, we met with concerned parents in Tennessee about these issues,” Chavez tells Breitbart News.

One commenter who reviewed the Karpiel co-authored Pearson Education seventh grade textbook at Textbook Advocates wrote:

What is disturbing is that the teacher reviews of this book find absolutely no bias at all in spite of the entire section devoted to the study of Islam in detail and with a positive view. Islam is continued to be discussed in many other sections as well. Its like a primer on Islam. It reads more like a book on religion in this section than a history book … Christianity is discussed as a power struggle between Bishops and the Pope with Kings and rulers. Much fewer details on the fundamentals of Christianity are given in this book than that of Islam. Christianity is discussed in a flawed and negative way. This book is clearly biased for Islam if for no other reason than the sheer volume of the text devoted to discussion of it.

Another commenter wrote:

This book shows an obvious bias for Islam. Any negatives are either not mentioned, down played or glossed over.

Other religions are not handled in the same manner. Much of the text regarding Christianity focuses on internal conflicts or other negative aspects. One gets the impression that the section on Islam is written by a Muslim but the sections on Christianity read from an outsider’s perspective. Very little information is presented on the conquest of Islam over of formerly Christian nations like Egypt, Syria and Turkey.

Regarding Pages 72-107 and beyond, the books discussion of Islam and Sharia is scrubbed clean of negative aspects. This book is quick to discuss several less than positive issues regarding the Christian church, such as internal conflicts or power struggles between the clergy and secular rulers. In fact one of the few sections dedicated to Christianity is entitled “Divisions within the Christian Church”.

Islam is given the status of a Civilization where no other religion is. In discussing Islam, no mention of slavery is made which was definitely a characteristic aspect of the Islamic empires and was practiced by Muslims since the beginning of Islam. Slavery is condoned in the Koran, Hadiths and the Sunna. Where slavery is not addressed in the cultures of Islam, slavery is described as a strong influence of the Roman culture.

P.82 Regarding Charity, one of the 5 pillars of Islam, the book fails to mention that Islamic charity does not apply to non-muslim believers. Refer to the Koran 28:86 which forbids lending support to nonbelievers.

P. 85 The books discussion of Sharia does not mention the lack of equal rights for women, non-Muslims and homosexuals. There is no mention of countries where sharia forbids women to work, receive an education, drive a car or move about unescorted by a male relative. There is no mention of women who are stoned to death under sharia for adultery even when it is actually a case where the woman is raped.

There is no mention that women inherit half of what their male peers inherit and that it takes 3 women’s testimony to equal one man’s in a Sharia court of law. There is no mention of the death sentence for all homosexuals or many other negative aspects of Sharia.

Discussion of the seventh Grade Social Studies standards will continue to be a hot political topic in Tennessee for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, when the next session of the Tennessee General Assembly is expected to consider Rep. Butt’s proposed legislation.


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