On behalf of anonymous parents, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes attacked the school expressing how troubled the parents feel and questioning the appropriateness of the exercises.
“I spoke to one parent who asked not to be identified. She was extremely troubled by what her child was exposed to in the classroom. ‘What if right after Pearl Harbor our educational system was talking about how great the Japanese emperor was?’ the parent asked. ‘What if during the Cold War our educational system was telling students how wonderful Russia was?’”
Starnes added: “The parent said the material was classwork disguised as Islamic propaganda. ‘It’s very shocking,’ she said. ‘I just told my daughter to read it as if it’s fiction. It’s no different than another of fictional book you’ve read.’
The lesson in question was meant to expand students’ vocabulary through reading about Muhammad and the Islamic world, according to the worksheet.
Words such as astute, conducive, erratic, mosque, pastoral, and zenith are put in sentences about the Islamic faith, and students were later asked to fill in the blank with the right vocab word.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 19, 2014
Pitt County Schools defended the lesson stating that “the course is designed to accompany the world literature text, which emphasizes culture in literature,” noting that it came from a state-adopted supplemental workbook and met the “Common Core standards for English Language Arts.”
“Our school system understands all concerns related to proselytizing, and there is no place for it in our instruction,” the district’s statement goes on to say. “However, this particular lesson was one of many the students in this class have had and will have that expose them to the various religions and how they shape cultures throughout the world.”
Starnes asked the school district if there are vocabulary worksheets that promoted the Jewish, Hindu and Christian faiths and when they were to be taught. The school replied with a detailed schedule of the upcoming lessons and assured him that teachers will not be advocating for any of them.
— Larry Johnson (@larryvance47) December 23, 2014
But a friend of one of a parent, Floridian Dianne Lynn Savage, was not happy with the school’s response. She posted a video of herself on Facebook, expressing outrage while reading the assignment to viewers, saying “it is propaganda to recruit… it infiltrates children’s minds.”
“Can you see my rage?” Savage asked. “This is not made up, this isn’t paranoia, this isn’t Islamophobia — this is just fact… You all understand what they’re doing? Bringing in this type of worksheet and this particular lesson, it’s very subliminal. And the fact that you’re using words like, ‘exciting’ and ‘imaginary,’ and that you’re trying to look like it’s a wonderful thing."
— kirkir / DILMAS #3!! (@kirstenissbae) December 20, 2014
Savage went on to attack Islam.
“Now, I know that Muslim isn’t a religion,” Savage continued. “But everybody else wants to classify it as a religion, so why is it being allowed in the schools? They are indoctrinating our children again! They are continuing to indoctrinate them! Only now they’re taking it to a whole new level, my friends.”
In a different video, Savage’s husband Darcy states he “doesn’t want Muslims here in America.”
After noting that some Muslims are secular and “probably going skiing on weekends,” he said he still does “not want them here, because I tell you what — I trust none of them. For one thing, they don’t condemn what’s in the Koran. You are what you’re taught, and you grow up learning this,” he said as he held up a copy of the Qoran, “then you are this.”
“This sh*t is horrible,” he added, “horrible, horrible, horrible stuff. Research Sharia, people! We have never coexisted, we do not coexist now, and we will never coexist — and the more you try to put us together, the more bloodshed that will be out there.”