Parents in Tennessee county push back against Islam in school

From the Wilson Post

By Connie Esh

The Wilson County, Tenn. School Board meeting Monday night started out calmly with the Watertown Middle School Choir singing about their future and leading the Pledge, but it didn't stay calm.

After several positive presentations were made to the board, Addison Rogers took the floor to complain to the board about a teacher at Carroll-Oakland School teaching seventh-grade students about Islam.

Parents Rachel Presley and Chris Smith, left, express their concerns about the teaching of Islam at their school to School Board Member Bill Robinson,

Parents Rachel Presley and Chris Smith, left, express their concerns about the teaching of Islam at their school to School Board Member Bill Robinson,

He said two PBS videos had been shown about a news reporter who converted to Islam, a "test" was given that requires students to "memorize the Five Pillars of Islam," and a history textbook was used which, he said, spends more space on Mohammed than it does on Jesus. Members of the standing-room-only audience cheered him on.

'Ran out of time'

They also became angry when he ran out of time to speak. The board's rules limit speakers to three minutes if they are added late to the agenda.

After Rogers finished, the only board member to comment was Zone 1 Board Member Wayne McNeese, who said he was offended not by what Rogers had to say, because he agrees with his concerns - but because he felt that Rogers lied to him when Rogers said he wanted to address the board about sixth-grade curriculum, and that wasn't what he talked about.

Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright said she would check into the situation and see what is actually being taught.

At that point Zone 3 Board Member Don Weathers asked for a five-minute recess, which stretched into about ten minutes. During the recess, various board members and Dr. Wright listened in small groups to the concerns of the protesting parents.

Even that format made some of the protesters irate.

"Nobody wants to talk about it," complained parent Rachel Presley, wearing a black T-short emblazoned "We Believe" in big white letters, addressing Zone 2 Board Member Bill Robinson."You'll talk about it in little circles, but we don't have a debate."

"We want answers," agreed parent Chris Smith.

'A lot more home-schooling'

Also voicing her concerns to Robinson was Reba Johnson, who said she had been the parent of a student at Carroll-Oakland - until the allegedly overboard teaching about Islam occurred.

"My daughter was a student at Carroll-Oakland, but I pulled her out last week," Johnson said. "My daughter is a fourth-grader, but it trickles down. I want to be in control of what she's learning, and they're not giving us that control. I think there's going to be a lot more home-schoolers in Wilson County."

Pastor Glenn Denton of Hillcrest Baptist Church said he also asked to speak before the board again, but was turned down because he didn't ask in time according to board members. He acknowledged that better than half the protesters at the meeting were from his church, but he added, "There's other people here, too."

The curriculum in the seventh-grade textbook is titled in a prejudicial way toward Islam, Denton asserted. "It's two chapters," he said, "and instead of it being called 'The Arab World,' like other regions, it's called 'Islam.'"

Denton isn't against Islam ever being taught, say, at a university, but "seventh-graders are a little young to be indoctrinated in that way," he added. "Later on, if they choose to do it, it's up to them."


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