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Archive for the ‘education’ Category
OK, the title is not quite accurate, but I’m a sucker for alliteration. The school in question is NOT a madrassa. It is a public, secular school.
As you may know, in NYC there are these things called New Visions High Schools – they are small schools with at least one comunity partner – non-profit (like FoodChange), city agency (like FDNY), or institution (like Brooklyn Botanic Gardens). These schools are cool because there is a higher staff to student ratio, and staff over at the community partner may have more time for fundraising and advocacy than the overworked school staff. And, it provides students the opportunity to learn in-depth about a particular topic from “experts.”
Last year plans got underway for a new New Visions school called Khalil Gibran International Academy, which planned to graduate every student bilungual in Arabic and English and with the general understanding that being Arab is not the same as being a terrorist. Its community partner will be the Arab American Family Support Center and curricula on conflict resolution and diversity will be run by the Tannenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.
So clearly this could not happen smoothly or without protest. The other day one of the founders and intended principal was forced to resign. An editorial from NY Daily News gives more details:
Officially, Almontaser resigned this month in the wake of a furor over the fact that she didn’t condemn the word “intifadeh” on a T-shirt. But Almontaser didn’t defend Palestinian violence against Israelis, as her critics claim. She simply tried to offer a wider context for a word most Americans associate only with terrorist violence.
That’s called education; but because she is an Arab and a Muslim, her statements were subject to greater scrutiny and suspicion.
It was mostly this editorial that prompted me to write this post today – I thought that more people should at least be aware of what’s going on. But further searches just led me to Campus Watch, which I haven’t thought about since my time in undergrad as a Middle-Eastern Studies Major. This group is on the lookout for terrorist apologists or fomenters all over the country. So they said that the fact that supporters of the school held a community meeting in a mosque proves that the school will be a madrassa.
OK, so if a community meeting is held in a Christian Church it’s good community organizing – using an already vital neighborhood institution to draw people in who go out of their way to be part of an intentional community. At a mosque, it’s gotta be clear evidence of a desire to brainwash and prosthelitize? No. That is clearly a bigoted assumption.
If you have occasion to be talking about this or talking to some elected officials of yours, let them know that this school should be supported as the necessity to build understanding and tolerance obviously exists, and it should get the same support and scrutiny that any other new NYC DOE school would.