From Highlands Today
By Marc Valero
A retired educator, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Highlands County (Fla.) School Board, addressed the recent concerns of a parent who questioned how the Islamic religion is presented in a middle school textbook.
Tom Barrett, the parent of a middle school student, contacted the school district in December about the textbook, World History Ancient Civilizations.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Grace Bible Church Lead Pastor Dustin Woods and a retired educator, Maury Strycker, had signed up to speak about the textbook.
But, before anyone was called to the speaker’s podium, School Board Chairwoman Donna Howerton noted that due to the emails they have received and the newspaper articles about it, she wanted School Board Attorney John McClure to provide some information.
“I read the paper like everybody else; I understand the concern is about the chapter on Islam in the history book,” McClure said. He explained that each speaker is entitled to present for 5 minutes, but he noted there are procedures for textbook adoption.
School districts are required to have annual hearings on the curriculum adoption for the core courses (math, science, language arts, social studies), he explained. All the textbooks are available for review at a public meeting.
McClure explained the procedures for filing a concern and also for addressing a concern with curriculum at the school level.
McClure told Woods he could express his concerns, but the board would not be taking any action during the meeting.
“It would require you to go through the process I just described for any formal action,” McClure said.
Woods inquired about the order of the process and said it would not be necessary for him to speak.
Maury Strycker, a retired school principal from Indiana, said his first teaching job was in Ramallah, Jordan.
Some Muslims teach that it is a religion of peace, but it is not, he said.
Strycker quoted a letter from an Egyptian girl whose father was killed in battle. After her father’s death, the girl said she was directed by Muslims taught to hate Americans and her holy duty was to kill others in the name of Jihad.
“If you got a chapter in the history book on Islam why don’t you have one on the Catholic faith and the Protestant faith and one on the Jewish faith,” he said. “If you are really going to be equal about it then you better keep them all out or put them all in.
“If you put them all in, the teacher won’t get the subjects covered that year.”
The school board members had no comment.