California Parents File Complaints Over Teachings about Islam

March 4, 2002


On March 4, 2002, USA TODAY reported that "parents in two California school districts have launched an effort to have a seventh-grade social studies textbook altered or removed, charging that it contains Islamic information that amounts to proselytizing... The Pacific Justice Institute, a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in religious issues and parental rights, filed two administrative complaints on behalf of parents in the San Luis Coastal Unified and Lemon Grove school districts. Complaints may be filed in at least two other districts, says institute president Brad Dacus... Vincent Ferrandino, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, says there is nothing wrong with... the textbook. 'We hope that part of what we are doing in education is helping students to understand how others view the world,' he says. 'It's only by having that kind of understanding that we can better work with people from different backgrounds'... 'There is nothing unconstitutional in teaching about religion and teaching about Islam,' Dacus says. 'Many parents are appreciative of their children having this broad awareness of the rest of the world and their faith. The problem is when the pendulum swings too much in the other direction so that it actually provides inaccuracies and distortions of Islam.' Also, he points to classroom activities that encourage role-playing and ask students to imagine being Muslim."