Richardson's Qur'anic Academy Has a Special Focus: The First Amendment

August 20, 2006

Source: The Dallas Morning News

On August 20, 2006 The Dallas Morning News reported, "When up against an unpopular rule, most students know their options: submission, negotiation, covert disobedience or brazen rebellion. Voting usually isn't an alternative. While civics lessons teach about democracy, in schools themselves, orders come from above, said Matthew Moes, principal of the Quranic Academy, an Islamic school in Richardson. 'It's really too bad. It's a really big irony,' he said. Mr. Moes wants his kindergarten through ninth-grade school to be different. The academy and six others in Texas are members of First Amendment Schools, a national network that aims to get students involved in community decisions, usually through a bigger role in school administration. In an era when the hot question is, 'How are students' test scores?' the nation's 101 First Amendment Schools ask: Do students understand their rights? Can they think critically about real-world problems? Can they work together on policies that affect them? Each First Amendment School decides for itself how best to emphasize freedom of speech, religion, press, petition and assembly. As head of an Islamic academy, Mr. Moes is aware of his school's connection to America's democratic principles, particularly freedom of religion. 'The First Amendment is at the heart of what makes the Muslim community live and flourish peacefully' he said. 'It's exciting for us to ... show how a Muslim school can embody those democratic principles.' Many of the Richardson school's 145 students have family ties to places such as India and Pakistan – nations that may be democratic but don't always guarantee freedoms like those in the First Amendment."