We saw two entire school districts shut down in the United States in the past week.
The first incident was in Los Angeles and was due to an emailed threat against multiple schools in the district. While the email was ultimately revealed to be a fake, the superintendent felt it was better to be safe than sorry.
The second incident is a little more out of the ordinary. An entire school district in Virginia was shut down over a calligraphy assignment.
Parents became outraged when their kids brought home an assignment with the following directions:
Translated, the text says, “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
According to local media reports:
“There was no trying about it. The sheet that she (the teacher) gave out was pure indoctrinate in its origin,” said [Kimberly Herndon, a parent].
Augusta County School Superintendent Dr. Eric Bond said, “Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief. ” He went on to say the lesson “attempts objectively to present world religions in a way that is interesting and interactive for students.”
One student we spoke with says she didn’t feel comfortable completing this assignment, even if it just was for calligraphy. “If it was, why couldn’t we just learn to write ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye’… you know normal words, not that,” said Laurel Truxell, a student in the class.
So many angry parents and members of the community called and wrote to the school in the last 48 hours that Bond made the decision to cancel school today for all schools in the district.
“As we have emphasized, no lesson was designed to promote a religious viewpoint or change any student’s religious belief,” the district’s issued statement said. “Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.”