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Campaign warning parents of bias in classroom books
Posted By Bob Unruh On 12/31/2011 @ 7:00 pm In Education,Faith,Front Page | No Comments
A new Islam-awareness campaign is being launched to tell parents and students that they simply shouldn’t believe the editorializing in the textbooks used in Florida’s schools.
Two organizations have worked together to produce a study on the controversy, and they are reporting that some of the nuggets that students in Florida’s schools can learn from their social studies textbooks include:
Martin Mawyer, president of Christian Action Network, whose group worked with Citizens for National Security on the study and its distribution, said, “We found some very skeptical phrasing meant to cast doubt on the historical accuracy of the Bible.”
He said, “Citizens for National Security deserves to be applauded for the report, and we felt we were obliged to publish and distribute the report.”
Mawyer said the finding was that students “aren’t being taught about the theological motivations behind radical Islam.”
“The impression students are given is that terrorists are misguided fighters against Western imperialism and aggression, who are only wrong in their approach,” he said. “It was amazing how many times the word ‘Palestine’ was used, making it sound like Israel was built on top of a conquered country.”
A text said, “Many important ideas taught in Europe in the Middle Ages came from scholars who followed a religion called Islam. Islam started in the Middle East and spread to parts of Europe, including Spain. People in the Islamic world had been exploring scientific ideas. Students in European universities began to study those ideas, too. They learned new things about medicine and the stars.”
Among the texts cited in the study were several by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which did not respond to a WND request for comment. Other publishers cited included McDougal Littell, AGS, Fearon, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Glencoe, Thomson Wadsworth and Prentice Hall.
The newly published report says textbooks in Florida, likely the third largest purchaser of textbooks in the nation behind Texas and California, favor Islam over Christianity and Judaism and “present an unfair view of history, particularly to the policies of the U.S. and Israel.”
The report identified 30 texts with examples of “bias” and questions about “accuracy,” and alleges students “are being given flawed information about the history of Islam, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Middle East and current conflicts.”
For example, one text states, “Women, as wives and mothers, have an honored position in Saudi society.” Another states, “The land now called Palestine consists of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
Bill Saxton, chairman of Citizens for National Security, said, “Although agenda-based campaigns to shape textbook content have existed for some time, the past decade has seen particularly aggressive and intense overt and stealth efforts by proponents of Islam to inject their beliefs into K-12 classrooms via textbooks.”
Mawyer noted that while the sampling comes from texts used in Florida, the issue of pro-Islam bias has national ramifications.
“Florida is the third largest purchaser of textbooks in the United States with an estimated $267 million budget for instructional materials,” Saxton said. “Textbooks used in Florida become adopted curriculum standards for the entire country.”
The campaign to publicize the findings already has begun.
CAN reported it already has distributed the full report to 500 school superintendents around the country.
“We pray that the superintendents will be moved by the report and will make sure these flawed textbooks are not used in their school systems,” CAN said. “We also hope it’ll encourage them to be aware of how widespread these biases are and they, like you, will take a proactive stance to guard against them.”
The organization said that many times school officials have brushed off the idea of textbook biases. But with this report, “They won’t be able to deny it any more.”
“We want even more school officials, teachers and parents to have this report,” the group said.
A CAN leader told WND that parents have taken the report to meetings of their local school boards, and some education officials have raised questions about the apparent activism of textbook publishers.
“We just want to alert parents to be on guard, looking at textbooks, knowing what speakers are coming into their schools,” the CAN leader said.
Ryan Mauro, founder of WorldThreats.com and the national security adviser for CAN, told WND that he’s convinced 99 percent of students today are not taught that America’s first encounter with the violence of Islam was when the Barbary pirates attacked U.S. shipping efforts in the early 1800s.
The study took many months, and while it was dated 2009, it actually is just now being released.
The summary notes that most students in K-12 classes lack the skills to evaluate all they hear and “tend to believe what their textbooks and teachers tell them.”
“Zealous promoters of Islam trying
to win the hearts and minds of these children with their messages are
well aware of these factors. All Floridians should be, too,” the report said.
The report said while educators in Texas and California were aware of the situation and have made attempts to address it, in Florida “proponents of Islam” have opportunities at three levels “to influence decisions that lead to getting their favored textbooks in front of … students.”
CFNS looked at dozens of textbooks, and it was discovered that 64 of Florida’s 67 districts use one or more of the “flawed” books.
The study raises significant concerns about what it describes as strategies to define terrorism in vague terms, the removal of references to contributions of American Jews, the replacement of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage with one referencing “Judeo-Christian-Islamic” and the stylization and sanitization of the history and tenets of Islam.
WND previously reported when the issue was raised by members of the public in the state’s Sarasota County School District.
There, the complaints referenced “World History: Patterns of Interaction,” published by Holt McDougal.
The book was approved by the Florida Department of Education for use in public schools and adopted by the school board for use from 2006 through the 2011-2012 school year.
“It promotes Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures, promotes Islam as a religion, promotes socialism and fails to address world history in a historically accurate manner,” the members of the public explained.
Even earlier, WND reported experts say American students are not getting a realistic picture of radical Islam, and textbook publishers are promoting the religion in public schools.
Gilbert T. Sewall, director of the American Textbook Council, a group that reviews history books, told Fox News the texts are sugarcoating Islamic extremism.
“Key subjects like jihad, Islamic law, the status of women are whitewashed,” Sewall said.
In a two-year project concluding in a report authored by Sewall, the American Textbook Council reviewed five junior- and five high-school world and American history texts, concluding:
“Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.”
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