A New Jersey middle school teacher encouraged students to be sympathetic with “Osama” during a lesson on September 11.
A sixth-grade teacher at Glen Meadow Middle School in Vernon, New Jersey, addressed 9/11 from an unusual angle this year. According to parent Edward O’Rourke, the teacher gave students a short story to read about a young Iraqi immigrant named “Osama” who was bullied by his peers in connection to terrorist attacks.
The story that the teacher had her students read, titled “My Name is Osama,” tells a made-up account of an Iraqi immigrant boy named Osama who faces taunts of “terrorist” in school by several students who tell him his mother, who wears a hijab, has “a bag on her head.” After pushing back against his tormenters, the boy is suspended from school for fighting.
The story included no mention of the ideology behind those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, which O’Rourke said should have been a part of the class discussion as well.
O’Rourke claims that the school let him vent about his frustration over the lesson. School officials claimed that they were not aware that the teacher had prepared to use the short story as part of her lesson plan on September 11.
In a comment to the New Jersey Herald, O’Rourke argued for the importance of teaching young students about all of the aspects of the 9/11 tragedy.
“I know a lot of firemen and cops who lost family members on 9/11, but unlike the religious extremists who would have no problem blowing all of us up, our society is not going out blaming all Muslims,” O’Rourke said. “But there’s also an ideology of people that causes some people to want to kill us and to not respect women’s rights, and that should be taught as well. Instead, this teacher was able to influence an entire class with a tainted story made up to show Muslims as victims.”
In a statement, Acting Superintendent Charles McKay said that he relayed the O’Rourke’s concerns to the teacher. “There were concerns expressed by a parent about an article one of our teachers gave out to a class on Tuesday, September 11th,” McKay wrote. “I met with our teacher this morning to relay those concerns and then I met with the father to make sure his point of view was heard. Each meeting was civil and instructive.”