A bizarre chain email sent to district and school board officials in the Dallas area this October titled ‘IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM’ inspired a recent investigation of ‘Islamic bias’ in the district’s curriculum. Despite the outlandish claims, the district requested that an official from the organization that created the curriculum to respond. The results of a 72-page investigation done by the organization were not surprising: there’s a Christian bias in schools, not a Muslim one.
The official told the board that a bias toward Islam didn’t exist, even mentioning that ‘she hired a ‘very socially and fiscally conservative’ former social studies teacher who ‘watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis’ to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE [the curriculum].’ She ‘asked her to look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial.’ The Dallas Morning News has the details of an investigation that mentioned ‘every religious reference in the CSCOPE curriculum, from kindergarten to high school’:
- Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
- The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
- If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was ‘bias against radical Islam.’
But those demonizing the district have ignored one key fact that could keep the case from being the big test of religious freedom, student privacy, and government surveillance that some media reports are making it out to be. The school isn’t actually expelling—or suspending, as some outlets have it—Hernandez for refusing to wear the electronic tracking chip. District officials have repeatedly offered to let Hernandez come to school wearing an identification card from which the RFID chip and battery have been removed.
“We have to respect their religious beliefs,” district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told me in a phone interview. “So we said, ‘All right, if this is objectionable to you because it violates your religious beliefs, then we will not put the RFID technology in the card. But you still have to wear the ID card like every other student at school.’ Daddy said no, and the student said no.” Gonzalez denied a report that the compromise came on the condition that Hernandez agree to stop criticizing the program and publicly support it. “That’s just untrue,” he said.
The really interesting question, which I discussed in a previous post, is whether the school’s RFID tracking program violates students’ privacy. But that might be a tough case to make in court, given that we’re talking about minors on school grounds. And the school’s compromise offer also takes the steam out of claims that it has punished or harassed Hernandez because of her refusal to be tracked. The school’s students use the ID chips to check in at the front door, buy lunch, and vote for the Homecoming king and queen, but Gonzalez said Hernandez could do all the same things with the chip removed. “We were very explicit with her and her family that all of the access and services that she would have gotten with RFID would still be available via this non-RFID card,” Gonzalez told me.
The most historical instance of protesting against taxation without representation is now being taught in Texas schools as a terrorist act.
As recently as January of this year, the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative included a lesson plan that depicted the Boston Tea Party, an event that helped ignite the American Revolution, as an act of terrorism. TheBlaze reports that in a lesson promoted on the TESCCC site as recently as January, a world history/social studies class plan depicted the Boston Tea Party as being anything but patriotic, causing many people to become upset with the lack of transparency and review for lessons.