By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Education has issued a report clearing Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy of the major allegations leveled against it and requesting that the school address smaller areas of concern.
The May 19 report states that the school’s core business—curriculum—is nonreligious, in full compliance with all Minnesota statutes. The Department of Education’s areas of concern related to how the school structures its voluntary Friday prayers as well as the timing of after-school busing. In a statement, Tarek school officials said that they take these concerns “very seriously” and will be getting together with parents and Department of Education officials to quickly rectify any possible or perceived infractions.
But the small concerns detailed in the report are not what should worry us most.
What should worry us most is the atmosphere of hate that surrounds them.
Just minutes after Sarah Lemagie’s story about the Department of Education report was posted on the Star Tribune‘s website, the inflammatory comments began.
One was titled by its poster “They should not be here,” and immediately painted all American Muslims with the same brush: “Think about this, This is one school in Minnesota how many are there in the united states. I don’t trust them any more than I can throw that school. Remember those that took flight lessons?”
Even more concerning was that, three hours after the article was posted, a feature on the website announced that “50 of 80 people (who registered an opinion) liked this comment.”
Another early comment, titled, “Terrorists in training,” stated, “Nice to see our tax money help these people teach kids to hate americans.” Although the comment was clearly unfounded, the website reported at 6:15 p.m. that “70 of 99 people liked this comment.”
Of the 74 comments posted by 6:15 p.m., many of them used the article as an opportunity for hate speech against all Muslims. The Star Tribune–unlike its cross-town rival, the Pioneer Press–has thus allowed its website to be used as a platform for hate.
State statutes may have been transgressed: This is a matter for state officials, legal experts, and educators to debate and correct. Those of us in the general public need to worry most about why this becomes an opportunity for hatred, and how we can work to change that.
- The Pioneer Press states on its website that it does not allow “racist, defamatory, or abusive” postings. For that reason (although the headline is incorrect, as the school is open to all, not just Muslims), I encourage you to read the story there. State dispels suspicions over charter school for Muslim kids
- The Minnesota Monitor reviews the landscape: Kersten, KSTP, and reality. Education Department findings on Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy contradict published reports
- The Minnesota Post goes through the report soberly, point by point. State’s Arabic-school ruling; did Kersten’s claims hold up?
- KARE-11 news reports on what happened after the report was issued, and states that “Inver Grove Heights Police Officer Steve Her confirmed to KARE 11 he told the KSTP crew not to come on the school property before the confrontation [with TiZA officials] happened.” State tells charter school to avoid perception of religious endorsement
- The Associated Press has a short, straightforward article. Minn. review: Charter school doesn’t teach Islam
2 thoughts on “What’s Troubling About Charter School Debate: The Hate”
The level of skepticism, bitterness, and intolerance in the comments that I saw at the Star Tribune in response to that article was very disappointing to me, but not surprising.
There is an attitude among (usually) Caucasian Americans whose families have lived here for at least a couple of generations that many accommodations have been made for new groups of people who have come to make the US their home. They seem to resent these accommodations and do not know or understand some of the difficulties of assimilation that their own families may have been through in the past. (For my own family, in the 1930’s laws were passed that required English to be taught in public schools and my grandparents and their daughters–including my mother–had to stop speaking German.)
I uphold the Constitution’s allowing us religious pluralism, and I wondered about how prayer is actually being handled at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy. I wouldn’t support a public school crossing that line of separation between church and state, but I don’t know at this time what is allowable in a public school for students pursuing ANY relgious practice.
There is an ignorance of the law and what exactly students are doing at the academy is still a little unclear. And what people don’t know or understand, they fear and hate.
And it’s sad and unfortunate.
I am planning to come to this blog regularly, so I can learn more and maybe I can bring some perspective when I am on the Strib site or when I am talking to others.