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  from page 1

Islam studies spark hate mail, lawsuits

"I can't confirm what went on at Byron but I don't believe they were following the framework," he added.

The Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources (the framework), first adopted in 1988 and updated in 2000 incorporate the content standards and serve as the basis for statewide assessment. The framework for history-social science for grade seven provides for an examination of "the rise of Islam as a religion and as a civilization. ... The religious ideas of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, should be discussed both for their ethical teachings and as a way of life. Mohammed should be seen as a major historical figure who helped establish the Islamic way of life, its code of ethics and justice, and its rule of law."

While the framework encourages "simulations, role playing and dramatizations," Appendix C specifies that "the school may sponsor study about religion, but may not sponsor the practice of religion."

When asked about the scant coverage of Christianity and Judaism versus Islam set forth in the content standards and framework for grade seven, Adams points to the curriculum for sixth-graders. That framework instructs:

"6. Note the origins of Christianity in the Jewish-Messianic Prophecies, the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament, and the contribution of St. Paul the Apostle to the definition and spread of Christian beliefs (e.g., belief in the Trinity, resurrection, salvation)."

Adams also stresses the state guidelines and standards "are not mandatory," and the state recognizes the need for local control within school districts. Asked whether Byron would exercise local control and opt out of the Islam studies, Castro replied, "The state tests our students and ranks are performance on this curriculum. If we didn't teach parts of it, students would not succeed in achieving the standards."

Pitfalls of discretion

Parent Valerie Moore believes part of the problem lies in the discretion exercised by the teachers.

"The teacher spent four months on Islam and then ran out of time to teach about the Reformation and all that," she said.

Field surveys conducted in 1994 by state educators substantiate Moore's claim, revealing "gaps in student learning." Appendix D of the framework states, "For example, in some sixth-grade classrooms students never reached the study of ancient Rome because of the extended time they spent on the study of Mesopotamia and Egypt earlier in the year. Some seventh-graders never studied about Europe during the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution" lessons which follow the unit on Islam.

'Pro Islamic, anti-Chrisitan textbook'

Moore and other parents find the course textbook, "Across the Centuries," to be skewed.

"I started reading my daughter's textbook and was astonished that nothing in the book resembled the history that I had been taught. It had all been distorted and rewritten," says Moore, "No longer could the founding of America be traced through Judeo/Christian beginnings. ... The history had been altered to now show that America had been given birth through an Islamic heritage. Everything sprang up through Islam."

The Pacific Justice Institute, a non-profit legal defense organization, has mounted a challenge to the textbook on behalf of a concerned parent from San Luis Obispo. JenT [JenT of BlessedCause.org] noticed her son's textbook "had a distinct bias toward Islam over Christianity" and proceeded to scour the book, writing a 10-page content analysis of it over the winter break. (See .pdf version of Shroder's report.)

"I was shocked," Shroder told WorldNetDaily.

"Across the Centuries," she says, "instructs our children to 'imagine you are a Muslim soldier' and write about it; 'imagine you are on a Mecca pilgrimage' and write about it; to research what a mosque looks like and then to build a replica of one. Another assignment is to write why other nations are attracted to Islam. ... I found 20 Islamic beliefs stated as fact."

While presenting a "white-washed version of Islam," Shroder asserts the textbook goes out of its way to depict Christianity in a negative light.

"In the textbook, there is a large three-column block titled 'Understanding Religious Persecution,' which blames Christians exclusively for persecuting others and forcing beliefs, when in fact there have been more Christian martyrs than any other religion."

"The Bible says 'Take heed that you do not inquire how other nations serve their gods,'" continues Shroder, "For my son to obey the school, he must disobey what the Bible tells him."

Shroder tried to opt Eric out of the class but says the principal told her "no" because the state assessments require the knowledge presented in the class.

"It seems everyone has rights except the Christians, and I have no choice but to file a lawsuit."

Pacific Justice Institute had scholars comb through both the textbook and the teacher's version to substantiate Shroder's content analysis prior to filing the administrative complaint.

"The average parent would be outraged to see this kind of bias and distortion of world history," said Brad Dacus, the group's chief counsel.

California adopted the textbook in 1991. When asked why ten years have passed without a major challenge, Dacus replied, "Parents overlooked it, thinking Islam is far away. They never saw it as having a threat to their children. [The terror attacks of Sept. 11 have] changed that and [have] created more scrutiny."

When seventh-grader Eric, was asked how he felt about the instruction, he responded, "It hurts my stomach."