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

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.”

Seth Daniel:

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  • these textbook arguements are usually pretty silly. everyone should study all the major religions of the world to better understand their stupidity. and given the current situation in the islamic world, it is even more important to understand islam and it's fascist and violent leanings. their religious delusions would be funny it wasn't for the death that comes with them.

  • The text book probably contains the same detailed information about all religions. We as Americans must uphold the right to teach such subjects. Islam is a religion of peace and is followed by billions of people around the world. A history class that omits Islam is not a real history class.

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

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

        • 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."

  • Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights of parents to ensure that 'education and teaching(of their children) is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.' The schools must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils. State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor belt for churning out exam passes - it is a community, a family. A community is held together by common values and principles. None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context. It is not wrong to teach children that Jews are committing the same cruelty in Palestine what German did to them before or during Second World War. It is not wrong to teach children that anti-social behaviour, drinking, drugs, homosexuality, sex before marriage, teenage pregnancies and abortions are western values and Islam is against all such sins. This does not mean that Muslim schools teach children to hate westerners, Jews and homosexuals. The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos. Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won't feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith. Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities. There is a belief among ethnic minority parents that the British schooling does not adequately address their cultural needs. Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded. Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response. State schools with monolingual teachers are not capable to teach English to bilingual Muslim children. Bilingual teachers are needed to teach English to such children along with their mother tongue. According to a number of studies, a child will not learn a second language if his first language is ignored. The West has never been at ease with Islam since the Crusades. It is unfortunate that huge oil supplies lie under the Arabian Deserts. It is the West that stirred the trouble that led to 9/11. That attack was a desperate act of by men prepared to lose their life. We need to get to grips on who is the terrorist? On 24 November 1963, Lyndon Johnson said, “the battle against communism… must be joined… with strength and determination. Some three million lives were lost in the consequential battles. The US had to pull out due to Public Opinion. Communism lived on. So who was the terrorist? The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Terrorism and sexual grooming is nothing to do with Masajid, Imams and Muslim schools. Those Muslim youths who have been involved in terrorism and sexual grooming are the product of western education system which makes a man stupid, selfish and corrupt. They find themselves cut off from their cultural heritage, literature and poetry. They suffer from identity crises and I blame British schooling. The shocking level of targeting of the Muslim community of Birmingham is indicative of the normalisation of the dehumanisation of the Muslims of Britain. Under the pretext of "extremism", criminal undemocratic and unethical abuse of public institutions and the Muslims of the UK can occur without much accountability. This pervasive attitude, especially amongst officials like Michael Gove needs to change. Our schools are truly trying to develop our children to do well at schools so later in life they are able to stand on their own two feet, but if we stop our schools from doing this than our country will have up rise of unemployment, benefit issues, crime levels high, I think its time for you apologize and allow practitioners to do their job right. IA

  • If this "man" is truly teaching diversity, then let him answer why they are not teaching these children to recite the Lord's Prayer - the prayer of the ONE TRUE GOD of America and Christians - IF he is sincerely interested in teaching "diversity". . He isn't teaching diversity - he's pushing his islamic agenda and trying to indoctrinate our children. Period.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • "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).

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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