There has been a middle school, World History assignment being shared on FB that came from DeSoto County Schools. I have been asked about it on my personal page and received some phone calls, so I want to address it here on DCR. The concern was in regards to an assignment concerning Islam, Muslims and the Quran. I believe some parents were concerned about these being taught in our schools. Let me share with you what I know.
First, this assignment has been used in our school system and other districts statewide since at least 2010. It is part of the state standards (curriculum) and required to be taught. The class is World History, and I have attached the actual MS Department of Education documents in regards to this class below along with the assignment sheet for you to review. Here is a link to the full document online: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/curriculum-and-instructions-library/2011-mississsippi-social-studies-framework.pdf?sfvrsn=4. There are approximately 5-6 religions discussed over the course of study for this class: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and maybe one more. They are not taught in anyway as a ‘religious’ course of study but rather as they pertain to history. The period of study for this class is the Pre-Historic Era to the Age of Enlightenment.
It is virtually impossible to teach any world history class without having to address various religions. They are not taught for days and days, and they are only discussed as in how they pertain to certain countries’ histories and world history in general. I have been told that Christianity is discussed for a much lengthier period of time than any of the other religions named above. The assignment on Islam was a one day course of study and in no way was aimed at trying to convert any student into becoming a Muslim. I believe the actual course of study was Arabia and not the religion itself. Although my daughter is a DCS student, I homeschooled her last year through Veritas (a Christian homeschool program), and she studied the Middle Ages, Restoration and Reformation periods for her history in 3rd grade. We had a one day lesson on Islam and Muslims as it pertained to the history of the country we were studying. I say this to say that even in Christian educational programs, this lesson would not be uncommon to find. It is just a part of our world’s history.
I hope this will give any of you with concerns more information and reassure you that our kids are not being persuaded to be Muslims. I know that the school’s principal and one of our district’s Associate Superintendents have been working hard to be sure that nothing in the lesson is out of line with what the state requires and have discussed the parental concerns at length. Personally speaking, I find this assignment to be a normal, basic assignment for the course of study. If I had any reservation about it, I would be the first to say it. I think most of you know that by now.