School’s curriculum on Mideast adjusted after parent protests
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
September 22, 2011 12:28 AM | 35151 views | 66 66 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA – Campbell Middle School has adjusted its curriculum on the Middle East after a parent complained that material provided for one assignment “positively slants towards Islam.” The creator of the materials, though, said she doesn’t understand the objection.

Hal Medlin said the assignment, sent home with his seventh-grader in late August, was aimed at helping students outline the pros and cons of school uniforms. The material includes a letter from a woman who is explaining why she is “proud and happy” to be Muslim and a list of seven conditions for women’s dress in Islam.

Neither Medlin nor district officials would identify the teacher.

“I thought this was absurd,” said Medlin, who describes himself conservative. “(The teacher) was trying to compare Islamic rules of dress and how they compared to school uniforms, which I thought was a stretch. The principal and the (superintendent) agreed with me … but they wouldn’t agree with my premise that it put Islam in a positive light because of the (statements).”

Here are excerpts from some of the material Medlin objected to, titled “My Name is Ahlima” and copyright by InspirEd Educators Inc. It is printed here with permission:

“My name is Ahlima and I live in Saudi Arabia. … Perhaps two differences Westerners would notice are that women here do not drive cars and they wear abuyah. An abuyah is a loose-fitting black cloth that covers a woman from head to toe. I like wearing the abuyah since it is very comfortable, and I am protected from blowing sand. … I have seen pictures of women in the West and find their dress to be horribly immodest. … Women in the West do not have the protection of the Sharia as we do here. If our marriage has problems, my husband can take another wife rather than divorce me, and I would still be cared for. … I feel very fortunate that we have the Sharia.”

Said Medlin: “If you take these three pieces of paper at face value and stick them out there, how can you not say that it’s positively promoting religion, particularly Islam? I want them to agree that it should not go out.”

But Sharon Coletti, the founder of Roswell-based InspirEd Educators and the creator of the material at issue, said she does not see Medlin’s objection.

“This particular sequence is a two-day social studies lesson. They read this letter and then examine stereotyping. The next lesson is a compare and contrast on the role of women in the middle East. Yes, the Muslim girl stereotypes Western women, but are there ways we stereotype Muslims? I have no idea what the objection is,” she said.

All public middle school students in Georgia spend 12 weeks learning about the Middle East, and that includes religions in that region, including the dominant Islam, she said.

“It’s important for kids to have some empathy for other people in the world. Some people think we’re trying to teach their children to be Muslims, and that could not be more ridiculous,” Coletti said.

Her company’s lessons have helped raise test scores in at least one south Georgia district, she said.

“We teach kids to think and to reason. The letters are fictitious, and we present it in different way rather than just a textbook,” she said.

Dale Gaddis, who is the area superintendent over Campbell Middle, acknowledged, “The use of that material could have been served in a better way.”

“The dad was correct in what he was talking about, but since then we’ve decided to select better materials. The issues that we had, we actually took care of. We worked with the teacher. The material would be used but we worked with our curriculum folks to verify the material and how it should be used,” he said.

Tim Stultz, who represents Campbell Middle, said Gaddis kept him informed of the situation.

“I passed on to Mr. Medlin that the teacher was talked to about adjusting the resource material,” Stultz told the Journal in an e-mail, and referring a reporter to Gaddis for more specifics.

Gaddis also chose to speak on behalf of Campbell Middle School principal Gail Johnson.

“Teachers may select materials that aren’t always the best, which is not necessary in this case, but within the adopted materials, they have choices that they can make with how they present certain items,” Gaddis added. “It was in range of the teacher and the course, which had to do with the eastern cultures.”

Medlin also complained that the assignment did not give any differing opinions regarding religion.

“There was … no positive reflection of other religions,” he said. “They haven’t sent home documentation in any other religions. They haven’t sent home any printed material that supports or disputes any of them. It’s a very inappropriate thing to send home with these kids. I’m concerned for people who might not have a foundation from which to reflect from this, no religious training for any standpoint,” Medlin said. “I don’t think any of this was intentional, but I think it was stupid.”
Comments
(66)
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sakpase
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October 11, 2012
This is being taught all over this nation that Christianity is bad and that muslim religion is the best of all. No voice is being raised in the christian community! Are we under some spell? Truth is being modify to fit the now culture and we just swallow it! I learn that before Christ is now being changed to Before Common Era. What is going on with this culture?
barbaragb
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December 13, 2011
Medlin---appropriate name for this simpleton.
Jeanmchambers
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October 03, 2011
This is the reason I took my son out of the US Public Socialist Schools. Ahlima from Saudi is brainwashed. Sharia forces women to wear the abuyah as a form of Subjugation. She obviously suffers from the same syndrome that 'abused' women suffer, where they rationalize that being beaten is for their own good.

We are a Christian nation, yet, the liberals have made it so you can't even say the word in a public school, as if it were dirty. But yet, they want to teach our children the Islam religion.

Get your guns my friends. A war is coming.

Mark127
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September 27, 2011
I do admire sharia for 1 thing, they cut the hands off of thieves. If we had that here we wouldnt have a politician with 2 hands anywhere. We might solve problems with that.
GCM
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September 27, 2011
Nov 2012 can't come soon enough,eh?
streetracer442
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September 26, 2011
Anyone--and I mean anyone--who bows to the wishs of any "m"uslim for any reason should move to a "i"salmic country so they can live with their "peaceful" friends.
Tony G.
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September 26, 2011
My daughter has the same here in San Diego. Two full chapter on Islam in her World History Book and for Christianity, a couple small sub-sections within European history and the like.

In the Christianity section it leads with a vignette about how scary it would be to have an arranged marriage in the middle ages to cull friction between two European countries. But in the Islam chapters, it doesn't talk about multiple wives, no rights for women and genital mutilation....I wonder why??
April Storm
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September 26, 2011
To 'annoyed taxpayer'...you saw it as a basis for discussion. If that were the case, ALL aspects of Sharia should have been in the text, not just the postitive comments from the fictious Arab lady. No mention of honor killings, stoning, genital mutilation, no right to vote OR drive for arab women etc. With the info the kids would get from those 3 pages, it would have been a bland discussion at best. Time for you to read up on Islam. There is NO place for it in our public schools.
anonymous
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September 26, 2011
I wonder if they learn about our Judeo-Christian values and religion when learning about America? Oh wait, that wouldn't be allowed.
ChicagoConservative
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September 26, 2011
I wonder if schools in Iran spend 12 weeks helping those childrem empathize with American culture.

This is one of the dumbest things I've seen in a while.
makeit right
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September 26, 2011
Are you kidding me?? Islam SHOULD NOT ever be in the classroom or, in fact, in the USA. These people hate Americans and want us dead. This is a fact. If this were in my school - there would be a BIG outrage.
despotinwaiting
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September 26, 2011
"I have no idea what the objection is" demonstrates that even the highly educated may be somewhat deficient in the common sense department.
Read much?
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September 26, 2011
You people fail at reading comprehension. 12 weeks on the Middle East, not 12 weeks on Islam. I truly wish there was a vaccination to protect against dumb.
norman goben
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September 26, 2011
12 wks on Islam?

How many wks on the Constitution and the American Revolution?
galaxyJ
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September 25, 2011
Kids learning to empathize with Arabs, Arab culture, and Arab religion, but don't even know their own culture and history. Do they know anything about the Reformation and Martin Luther? How about the Wesley brothers and the history of Methodism and its effects on Western society? I'm sure they don't. What is the purpose of teaching about other cultures and other cultures' histories when you don't know your own? Could it be to create a kind of ignorance and indoctrination?
Smashicus
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September 25, 2011
This is some bizarre school curriculum. Instead of giving some good points for discussion of the pros and cons of school uniforms, it seems to only reinforce stereotypes of women. Unless the new school uniforms are going to be similar to what women in Saudi Arabia wear, what does this have to do with anything?
jabizzle
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September 25, 2011
People like Hal Medlin are the reason that Georgia lags the nation in economic development. Global companies don't want to invest somewhere that would rather breed an ignorant workforce than invest in quality education. On behalf of all unemployed Georgians - thanks Hal, thanks a bunch.
JS4567
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September 25, 2011
Here is a quote from the example:

"...that women here do not drive cars and they wear abuyah...."

I would submit to you that this is deliberately dishonest in not stating: "women here ARE NOT ALLOWED TO drive cars and MUST wear abuyah..."

Sick of PC BS
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September 25, 2011
Conveniently, honor killing was omitted from the lesson. Why do we need to teach our children to tolerate our greatest enemy, Islam? They teach their children to KILL us. What we really need is more teaching about our own country's history.
NO SHARIA
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September 25, 2011
all government religion based governance like sharia should be stopped in the free world! Islam has NO SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE THE GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION ARE ONE!! And ALL Islamic mosques are GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS and when built they stand for Religo-government, SHARIA!!!Much the same as the catholic / christian church was before 1776 July 4 when the founding fathers put a stop to this malady!!! These people live like second rate citizens, Women are made to cover and don't get the FREEDOM to drive a car or vote!!disgusting!!!I have daughters and I want them to be FREE!!!!NOT SHARIA COMMUNISTS !!!
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