Parent Questions Teaching of Islam, Religions in World History at Revere Middle Schools

October 25, 2014
By

A flap over the history curriculum regarding world religions – specifically teachings about Islam – in the Revere middle schools has gone to the Boston media and caused a number of parents to ask questions and inquire about what is, indeed, being taught to children.

Superintendent Paul Dakin said the genesis of the complaint came from a parent at the Susan B. Anthony Middle School who objected to history classes taught to 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Dakin said the curriculum is a general overview of all world religions in the context of the study of history and has been taught in Revere since 2003.

“This is nothing new in the schools,” he said. “We’re not teaching religion and we’re not trying to convert any student. For people to think we’re out there selling religion is completely false. We’re discussing these things intelligently and academically. This is learning and this is information.”

The classes that tackle the topics include World Geography in grade 6, Ancient Civilization in grade 7 and World History I in grade 8. The teachings, also, are part of the state’s curriculum, he said.

The original complaint came from parent Anthony Giannino – a former Revere DPW worker – who objected to a general information piece about Islam. In particular, Giannino – who was interviewed by Channel 7 News in Boston – said there were things in the text that referred to Allah being the only God and Muhammad being his prophet.

“That’s insulting to me as a Christian who believes in Jesus only,” Giannino told Channel 7 in a segment on Monday night. “We don’t believe in Allah.”

The particular reference, in context, is buried within facts about there being 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and that the name Muhammad means “highly praised.”

Following those facts is the ‘Call to Prayer,’ which reads in the text as: “Allah is the greatest; I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is his Prophet; Hasten to prayer, hasten to success; Allah is the greatest. There is no God but Allah.”

Giannino told Channel 7 that he pulled his son from the classes because he didn’t want him exposed to teachings about Islam, and he said that resulted in his son failing the class.

“If my son was from another country and came here, he would have been catered to, but we’re no being catered to and they gave him an ‘F,’” he told Channel 7. “They should say to you ahead of time that in history your son is going to learn about Islam. They should send a letter home.”

Dakin said that Giannino is the first person to ever complaint about the 11-year-old curriculum. He said three parents have voiced concerns to his office after seeing the report on Channel 7, and all have been satisfied with the district’s explanation of the history curriculum.

He added that the Mayor’s Office and the School Department have been inundated with calls.

“Religions of all types are part of the discussion in history,” said Dakin. “You can’t discuss the move from B.C. to A.D. without talking about religion and Jesus. You can’t talk about the time before Christ without talking about Judaism. You have to talk about Buddhism and Hinduism and the religions of Native Americans to understand history in that part of the world and to understand the culture. We study it from that point of view and not to convert anyone. It’s information that’s put in context and academic. I don’t think history can be taught without discussing religions.”

Dakin said the classes also discuss Christianity, Jesus Christ, Judaism, Buddhism, the Puritan Movement and other religions in the same context as the Islamic faith.

He said he doesn’t believe one can remove religion from the academic study of history.

“Are we going to allow people to say they don’t like the Civil War and the South and the Confederates and won’t let their kids be in class every time we talk about the Confederates?” he asked. “We could never do that. They could never understand the history of the Civil War without talking about the South.”

That said, Dakin affirmed that any parent not wishing to have their children exposed to any teachings in the schools – including world religions within history classes – can have their children excluded from the discussion.

“Any parent can have their child held out of anything they don’t want them to be exposed to, but in this case, these are state standards and they will likely be tested on it,” he said. “If they’re asked about it on a standardized test, they won’t know it. Also, if they miss more than six classes, they will have a problem with attendance.”

Dakin and Christina Porter – Director of Humanities – sent out a letter to the specific concerned parents on Oct. 16 to address the objections and provide more information about the curriculum and the state standards.

On Tuesday, Dakin issued a memo to the entire district discussing the issue once again.

“More than the fact that we are following State Curriculum Standards is the fact that we live in a multicultural world and city, and each classroom in every school has children of multiple religions,” he wrote. “As part of our appreciation of our diversity, there are discussions about places where our children come from and the traditions they practice. We celebrate the differences we have.”

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Do you think that by reading a statement of how someone else prays is making them recite that prayer? Try reading the facts, not the messed up fantasies of a deranged father who is clueless.

  • Matt S

    The Christian religion has many of the same rules, including killing gays, according to Leviticus. I don’t see a lot of people stoned to death in our churches, though.

    It is the culture that decides how much power religion should hold over government. There are multiple majority Muslim nations. Look at Turkey. It does not have the same draconian laws that Saudi Arabia does.

  • Matt S

    No, I’m saying that’s a history of all the Abrahamic faiths. In case you didn’t notice, the OT is considered art of the Christian faith as well.

    It isn’t like Christians of the time were using Penicillin, my friend. It was an advance for the time. Plus, mercuric chloride is not the same as a mixture of mercury and chloride, anymore than sodium chloride is a mixture of explosive sodium and chlorine gas. They are compounds.

  • michael

    yes, the old testement is the start of the abrahamic religions. they are all silly. fuck the christians and what they consider art. see i can say that because i’m in america. if i said, fuck the muslims and what they consider art, their koran and hadiths, and i was in an islamic nation, i would most likely be put to death.
    i don’t understand why muslims and apologists like you bring up the OT all the time? it is considered divine to muslims.
    “I merely can appreciate a wise and tolerant culture beyond my own”. so what is wise about islam? it’s belief in jinn? gog and magog? you do know muslims believe in magic. how about al-ghazali’s book: ‘the incoherance of philosophers’? his attack on the hellenistic philosphies? what is tolerant about islam. have you even read the koran? clearly you haven’t read ibn nuhaas’: ‘the book of jihad’. http://www.khilafahbooks.com/wp-content/ebooks/english/khilafah/book_of_jihad.pdf
    so i’m still confused as to how destroying the sacred idols of another religion is tolerance in your book?
    as for the chemistry, i’ll take your word for it. i’m not a chemist. but was this treatment divinely delivered by god or an angel? i imagine scientific advancements happened in the empires of islam despite the religion, not because of. save for algebra which came out of their sexist inheritance laws.

  • michael

    not sure why you keep bring up christianity. i’m not a christian. appearently you are? yes, ‘man shall not lay down with another man, as he would a woman’. something like that. it’s been 30 year since i was in catholic school.
    but the religion of islam says that it should be the law of the world. checkout islam.com – chatislamonline.com – islamreligion.com (between 1 and 4pm est) islamqa.info/en – muslims will tell you sharia is ‘god’s law’ and is the ‘only savior’ for the world.
    turkey is the exception to the rule. thank you atta turk. but you watch, their secular status will fall in the next 20 years.
    but the secularists just won in tunisa (80 of 270 seats), so that should be interesting to watch. along with egypt.

  • michael

    my bad. it just hit me. i’m pretty drunk. yes a culture can over come the religion. i say that all the time to people who say we shouldn’t allow muslims in the country. i say that is really thje only hope. we can expse them to western values and then it can backflow to their native lands. it’s kind of like stopping ebola at the source.
    but i don’t think you brits are doing a very good job. you might best leave it to us americans. we assimilate our immigrants better than y’all.
    http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4263.htm

  • Dorethea

    Oh for heaven’s sake. I remember in sixth grade there was a tiny chapter in the textbook covering the basics of Islam (and its relationship to Christianity)– and that was eons and eons ago. It was enlightening and positive and to this day I don’t fear religions that are not mine. In fact I still like learning about them because it helps me make sense of this world of ours. I hope the overview in the current curriculum encompasses more than one tiny chapter.

  • drensber

    A lot of the old people (and some of the young ones) in Revere really make the city seem like the characters in Blazing Saddles. It boggles the mind how so much ignorance can exist in a city in this part of the country that is otherwise fairly enlightened.

  • Italod

    What cracks me up is that, like Murphy’s Law, the majority of the so-called all-knowing “protesters,” when they open their mouths or write a defense, betray themselves to sound and seem so illiterate. I hope that kind of small-mindedness fades its way out of Revere’s population mindset sometime, someday.

  • JamesAmerican

    That one true God is the same God of the Old and New Testament as well as the Koran. Call him Aloheem or Allah. It is the same God. Even Jesus loves Allah.

  • JamesAmerican

    You are condemning criminals. Criminals are bad. Islam is about peace. And Muslims are peaceful. You should understand that. Amen.

  • JamesAmerican

    Yes, Maliki, Shafei, Hanbali, and Hanafi. Those are the 4 Sunni Madhabs. And there is also 12er Jafari Shia’ism. They are all for peace. The punishments exist for an ideal islamic state (utopia). Even the adultery punishment needs 4 male witnesses. And when does that happen? Probably never. Islamic law is not practiced in any country in the world. Those punishments are just there to prevent sins from happening.

  • JamesAmerican

    Abu Huraira converted to Islam just right before the conquest of Mecca. Abu Huraira was an opportunist. Abu Huraira was a begger who would walk around Arabia with a cat and beg for food. A hadith in Sunni Islam is only accepted as 100% valid if it appears hadith books of Bukhari and Muslim. It must be noted that even if it appears in Bukhari and Muslim, a hadith by Abu Huraira is still seen as not valid since Abu Huraira would say anything in order to get free food.

    Quote a hadith where Muhammad killed someone personally. If Muhammad ordered the killing of an individual please quote that hadith.

    Mike, you are very knowledgeable about Islam. I must add, your souces are weak. Unfortunately, the criminals like ISIS use those same weak sources to create anarchy in the world.

  • michael

    are you a shia? yes the shia do not take any narration from huraira only. they consider the cat man to be a fool. but were do you get this test of both books? I’ve never heard that before. that hadith is from http://www.searchtruth.com university of southern California has a collection of hadiths. http://www.hadithcollection.com (I don’t like the way they list them though) sunni.com or sunniforum.com….just google hadith collection. you can’t swing a dead cat online without hitting a website with a collection of hadiths on it. although sometimes the numbering will differ. I like search because it has an actual search feature. hadiths were Muhammad ordered people killed. again, swing a dead cat. 81st 82nd and 84th book of bukhari. he had the eyes gouged out and the hands and feet cut off the tribe of ukl. the jew and the jewess he ordered stoned to death. I haven’t found it in a hadith, but it is reported after the battle of badr he had ibn mashud go among the pagan wounded and hill them. he beheaded adu jahl and brought the head to Muhammad.

  • michael

    http://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=84&translator=1

    Narrated ‘Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him'”

  • drensber

    “when they open their mouths or write a defense, betray themselves to sound and seem so illiterate”.

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t make their argument any less compelling in the Revere public’s view (see my comment below about the characters in Blazing Saddles).

  • Polly W

    My 7th grader is going through an intense study of islam. She’s up to about 40 pages of written assignments and that’s only what I’ve seen. (what happened to separation of church and state?) I’m all for learning about different religions maybe a couple of pages worth, but this is going to far. I go over everything she is being taught in the classroom so that she is aware of all the false teachings. We pull out the koran look up the sura for ourselves. Most Muslims are peaceful people, but what is taught in the koran is that the religion is extremely violent and the way they treat women then and now is inexcusable. I don’t claim to be an expert but I do try to educate myself on the subject so that I can CORRECTLY teach it to my daughter. There is no relationship to Christianity besides Muhammad quoting the Bible incorrectly, the Jesus that is written about in the koran is not the same Jesus that is in the Bible and I think that confuses a lot of people… anyway it is shameful that these (Prentice Hall) text books even got into the school system and should be replaced.

  • Polly W

    Yes you are right, in my daughters 7th grade text there is a dab of the other religions and two full units on islam.

  • Polly W

    the jesus in the koran is not the same Jesus in the Bible, Jesus in the Bible is the son of God.

  • Polly W

    she was 6 , muhammad consummated (in this case raped) the marriage when she was 9

  • AtheistPOS

    you guys are fucking morons. Reading these comments makes me want to kill myself. Stupid bible thumpers. Allah is Jesus’ father if you bother to read the fucking books. But what do I know, I’m just an atheist.

  • JamesAmerican

    Polly, now you are just being silly. Please re-read history. She was 18 when the marriage was consummated. And she even drove a camel in the battle of the camel. That can not be said of Saudi women today, who are prohibited from driving.

  • JamesAmerican

    Son of God is a poetic term. The Jewish people in the Old Testament were the children of God. Son and Children in this situation means “creations of”. So, yes, we are all creations of God. And that is what the Koran and the Bible say. please read the Koran and the Bible.

  • JamesAmerican

    Polly, don’t be mad. Please study about Islam. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  • JamesAmerican

    Mike, that hadith is probably untrue. Ali was Mohammad’s 1st cousin and knew Islamic law very well. Ali would only follow the Koran and then the Prophet Mohammad’s orders. Hence, the hadith has a contradiction. It says that Ali did something against the wishes of the Prophet. And Abbas is Ali’s distant cousin. It is highly unlikely that ibn Abbas bad mouthed Ali due to the Arabian unity among family members and tribes.

  • JamesAmerican

    Beheading of the dead is prohibited by Islamic law. The dead must be buried. The hadiths were written down during the Abbasid dynasty, roughly over 100 years after the death of the Prophet. The Shia are not the only people that doubt the hadith of Abu Huraira. There are many Muslims that question the hadiths of Abu Huraira. You can ask about the 2 book test from any knowledgeable Sunni Muslim Imam at a mosque. Mohammad had at least 2 Jewish wives. It is highly unlikely that he persecuted the Jewish tribes of Arabia. Upon the conquest of Mecca, Mohammad gave amnesty to all the inhabitants of Mecca. This is a historical fact.

  • JamesAmerican

    No. You are still mistaken.

  • JamesAmerican

    The Israelites in the Bible are referred to as the children of God. Children and son mean creation. We have all been created by God. Jesus was created by God. God created Adam. you should study the Koran.

  • JamesAmerican

    Maybe, you should read your daughters text book. who knows, you might learn something. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  • Polly W

    not mad, James I just don’t think kids should be taught something that isn’t based on facts.

  • Sam Adams

    40 pages of written assignments on Islam? She’s not learning about other religions, she’s being indoctrinated.

    Your question is very appropriate. What DID happen to separation of church and state? I guess that only applies to churches and synagogues. Apparently it’s OK to combine mosques and state.

    There is a name for that. It’s called Sharia Law, the most oppressive, brutal, murderous and savage law ever conceived in the history of mankind.

    If I had a child in the Revere public school system who was being indoctrinated into the cult and political movement that Islam represents, I’d get myself a lawyer and sue the pants off Superintendent Dakin and the Revere public school system.

    What a disgrace and what a monstrous fraud they are perpetrating on the people of Revere and their children.

  • RiverFred

    If they want to teach about Islam how about teaching the truth about Mohammad, a pedophile, warrior who be-headed is enemies, sold his captives as slaves, torturer, the worse kind of man.

  • Rena

    You can’t teach Islam’s pillars of faith in a public school. Also, it is a misrepresentation of the religion. Children are too young to learn about beheadings, jizya tax, death for apostasy, hanging gays from cranes, the belief in world domination, “killing the infidel wherever you find him,” stoning people for adultery, lashings for blasphemy, cutting off the hand for theft, plural marriage, and the multiple rants of a megalomaniacal Mohammed.

    We are no longer fooled. The “religion of peace” is anything but “James American.”

  • Rena

    Zackly right!

  • rena

    Where do we see this practiced on any level today? Solomon didn’t write the entire bible, either. We do not revere him as the perfect man nor are we enjoined to follow his example to the letter!

    The difference is that there is no doctrine of world domination, so wake up, look around, and smell the putrid coffee.

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