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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Board takes up books that speak well of Islam but not so well of others

Resolution up for vote next week alleges texts have pro-Islamic slant

By GARY SCHARRER
AUSTIN BUREAU

AUSTIN -- Texas public schoolchildren risk getting tainted with a pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias in their textbooks, according to a resolution the State Board of Education will consider next week that is likely to further inflame emotions already running high across the country.


"If Christians and Judaism get pushed aside, parents and people don't like it because it's not accurate. It's not true," said Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, one of the board members supporting the resolution.

Critics of the resolution contend the bias perceptions are inflated or invalid. They also pointed out the lack of objections seven years ago when the social studies books were updated during a time Islam attracted less attention in this country.

Lawrence Allen Jr., D-Houston, the board's only Muslim member, warned Wednesday that board approval of the resolution will bring more unwelcome national attention to Texas.

Sounds like another Muslim Threat.

The resolution calls on the board to reject sections of textbooks that "offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world's major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage ... or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others."

The resolution contends that current textbooks glorify Islam with "superlatives" while downsizing Christianity with "pejoratives."

Allen wants the board to scuttle the resolution before it comes up next Friday.

"We will become very, very divisive in a vote like that," he said. "It will make national and international news. It's just not good. The board will have to be very, very careful in recognizing that we are throwing gasoline on the fire." More Muslim Threats!

Emotions are running high elsewhere with the planned development of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York and controversy over the threatened burning of the Quran by the pastor of a small Christian congregation in Florida.

Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, said the resolution is needed "to ensure that all religious groups are treated equally and fairly ."

"For example," she said, "many textbooks devote line after line to the massacre of Muslims, but censor Muslim massacres of other religious groups."

Making a 'bold statement'

Former Ector Independent School District board president Randy Rives is pushing the resolution.

"You need to make a bold statement to the publishers that pushing this agenda will not be tolerated in Texas," he told State Board of Education members at a July meeting.

Allen, a public school administrator, said the resolution is unnecessary because the board has a process that provides ample public review "to assure that we have solid material in the classroom."

Support for the resolution appears to be coming mainly from the board's seven social conservative members and reflects the same sort of tension evident when they developed new science curriculum standards last year and social studies curriculum standards earlier this year.

"Without a doubt, social studies and science textbooks oftentimes find themselves at the crossroads of our nation's cultural wars," said Jay Diskey, executive director of the Association of American Publishers' School Division.

Most book companies create independent internal bias reviews "because they know it does them no good to produce things that are inaccurate and biased," Diskey said.

The books cited in the resolution currently are not used in Texas schools, Diskey said.

Rives said he and others are concerned that those books are available for use by Texas schools. Rives unsuccessfully challenged Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, in the GOP primary this year.

Shortcomings noted in the resolution probably do not represent a serious problem, McLeroy said.

"But it's not a bad idea to bring attention to it," he said. "I certainly don't want to keep fanning the flames."

Top Baptist critical

That is exactly what will happen, said the Rev. Larry Bethune, senior pastor at the University Baptist Church in Austin and immediate past president of the American Baptist Churches of the South.

"It piles on to the fear-mongering and anti-Islamic fervor that some political forces in our country are stirring up," Bethune said, adding the religious bias complaints in Texas coincide with the country's growing "anti-Islam rhetoric … and sad attack on Islam."

 Rev Bethune is another Dhimmi thats doesn't know what muslims are doing to christians and other religions outside the US.
Schools, he said, "should teach about religious liberty and respect for other people's religious traditions and not teach extremists as exemplary of the entire religion."

Maybe Public Schools should avoid all teachings on Religion rather then emphasizing one over the other. After all isn't that what separation of church & state is all about?