The Christian Action Network (CAN) has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking that a fraud investigation be open into the public funding of an Islamic indoctrination program for school children called “Access Islam.”
“Access Islam” is a teaching program designed for grades 5 – 12 that was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to the Educational Broadcasting Corporation. It has been available for public school use for the past 12 years.
This past summer CAN brought national attention to the program after revealing that the instructional material clearly violated constitutional law.
“Access Islam” is broken down into 14 separate learning modules. Among the lessons, children are asked to watch a video on how to pray as a Muslim, recite Muslim prayers, learn Islamic scripture and make posters of the Five Pillars of Islam.
Besides reaching beyond what is constitutionally permissible for public schools to teach, the program also violates a federal law that prohibiting the Department of Education from developing curricular for schools.
A copy of the complaint sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions from CAN’s General Counsel, David Carroll, is found below:
CARROLL, UCKER & HEMMER LLC
Columbus OH 43215
October 23, 2107
Hon. Jeff Sessions
United States Attorney General
Dear Mr. Sessions,
I represent Christian Action Network, an organization that promotes family values. The organization has uncovered a serious misuse of federal grant money by an organization with a history of such misuse.
The United States Department of Education is prohibited by law from developing curricula for schools. 20 USC § 7907. In 2005, the Department of Education provided a grant to the Educational Broadcasting Corporation doing business as 13/WNET New York to produce educational material. The purpose of the grant program was "to improve and strengthen instruction in modern foreign languages, area studies and other international fields" according to a letter we received from the Department of Education, copy attached.
Instead, the Educational Broadcasting Corporation used the funds to develop a curriculum for elementary, middle school, and high school students to study Islam in a thoroughly proselytizing manner. The lesson plans appear on the website for teachers.
The website assures teachers that the materials are endorsed by the United States Department Education by including the following stamp: "Funded by the United States Department Education." The lesson plan is designed for students in grades 5-12. The materials instruct that children are to complete such assignments as:
• “…explore and understand the basic beliefs of Islam as well as the Five Pillars that guide Muslims in their daily life; belief, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage.”
• “…focus on learning about the core duties of Muslims…”
• “…read about what it means to proclaim faith or belief as a Muslim.
• “…watch the two streaming video segments about prayer preparation and the set of movements for prayer.”
• In addition, students are expected to correctly understand and answer such questions as:
• Describe the process that Muslims go through to prepare to pray.
• What do the prayers sound like?
• What do the movements look like?
• What are some of the things Muslims say during prayer?
• Activities include having students “create a poster about the Five Pillars to be displayed in the classroom and around the school…”
• Teachers are encouraged to contact local mosques and “have students speak with Muslims...about how they fulfill their duties as outlined in the Five Pillars and how these practices fit into their busy lives…”
• Students are told to examine passages from the Qur'an and the Hadith. They are then told to give a "Summary of passage meaning" and an "Explanation of application to life."
Until just this week, the Educational Broadcasting Corporation included contact information for Access Islam, apparently an organization of the Educational Broadcasting Corporation. The website, copy attached, assures the public that "Funding for Access Islam was provided by the US Department of Education in 2005."
Although Access Islam claims to be "part of a larger initiative, ACCESS WORLD RELIGIONS" there is no Access Christianity, Access Judaism, Access Hinduism presented anywhere on the website.
Either the Educational Broadcasting Corporation misused the grant money for purposes prohibited by 20 USC §7907 or the Department of Education is funding the establishment of a religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As the United States Supreme Court said in Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 107 S.Ct. 2573, 96 L.Ed.2d 510 (1987), "
The Court has been particularly vigilant in monitoring compliance with the Establishment Clause in elementary and secondary schools.
Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family. Students in such institutions are impressionable and their attendance is involuntary.
The use of public funds to present the proselytizing materials for use in schools violates two if not three of the prongs of the Lemon test for violation of the Establishment Clause.
This is not the first time that the Educational Broadcasting Corporation has misused public grant money. In 2010, the United States brought suit against the Educational Broadcasting Corporation under the False Claims Act for the misuse of grant money from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Apparently the lawsuit was a product of prior negotiation, because a consent order was filed the following day. United States of America v. Educational Broadcasting Corporation and WNET.org, case no. 10 CIV 4664, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Our previous communication to Betsy DeVos yielded the attached letter which plays the part of an ostrich trying to ignore the problem.
We respectfully request a meeting with you to review appropriate options with respect to the misuse of public funds. I've taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of this letter to the assistant attorneys-general involved in the 2010 lawsuit.
Very truly yours
David W. T. Carroll