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Jun 15 2012

When Taxpayer Funds Go to Muslim Schools

Here’s yet another example of Christian groups demanding government funding and recognition and then freaking out at the idea that a Muslim group is eligible for the same benefits. Louisiana has a new law that allows vouchers for private schools, which they thought was great when they thought it would only give money to Christian schools. But then a Muslim academy applied for the same thing and, well, the result was predictable.

Rep. Kenneth Havard, R-Jackson, objected to including the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans in a list of schools approved by the education department to accept as many as 38 voucher students. Havard said he wouldn’t support any spending plan that “will fund Islamic teaching.”

“I won’t go back home and explain to my people that I supported this,” he said.

“It’ll be the Church of Scientology next year,” said Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin.

Yep, it might be. And there are two alternatives: You can either not fund religious schools at all through vouchers, or you have to fund any religious school with students who use them. What you can’t do, no matter how much you want to, is say that only Christian schools get the money. It’s that pesky First Amendment thing you might have heard of (not to mention the 14th Amendment).

And as ThinkProgress shows, Christian schools are gonna make a windfall on this:

The Islamic School of Greater New Orleans has since withdrawn its request for vouchers. But Havard’s concern for religious teaching being funded by taxpayer dollars seems to extend only so far. Reuters reported earlier this month that some of the parochial schools that stand to benefit the most intersperse biblical teachings directly into math, science and reading curricula, often at the expense of an actual education.

New Living World, which says it can accept more than 300 vouchers, is one such school. The campus has no library, and classrooms are often adorned with little more than a TV on which biblically-themed DVDs recite the day’s lesson. Another, The Upperroom Bible Church Academy, is housed in a windowless building with no playground. They can accept more than 200 students, and would stand to receive as much as $1.8 million. Eternity Christian Academy (135 vouchers) doesn’t permit the teaching of evolution.

Taxpayer funding for Christian schools is awesome; taxpayer funding for Muslim schools? Outrageous! Who would ever think of such a thing!

24 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    So what’s the problem with privatizing education?

    New Living World, which says it can accept more than 300 vouchers, is one such school. The campus has no library, and classrooms are often adorned with little more than a TV on which biblically-themed DVDs recite the day’s lesson. Another, The Upperroom Bible Church Academy, is housed in a windowless building with no playground. They can accept more than 200 students, and would stand to receive as much as $1.8 million. Eternity Christian Academy (135 vouchers) doesn’t permit the teaching of evolution

    Oh yea. That.

  2. 2
    Spanish Inquisitor

    Once they accept public money for Christian schools, can’t the public insist on monitoring exactly what they teach there? If they start teaching about, I don’t know, religious numerals in math class, don’t we get to object?

  3. 3
    bruceh

    From the article:

    Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said the Islamic school withdrew its request to participate in the voucher program.

    “They’re not interested. The system works,” he said.

    Hopefully, the school only withdrew its request when they figured out that the law might not pass with their request in place. Once it’s signed, maybe they’ll re-instate their request. Also, the system worked in Carter’s view only because the school was dissuaded from participating. That’s kinda fucked up.

  4. 4
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I say we set up a Pastafarian school and get ourselves a cut of that voucher money.

  5. 5
    Akira MacKenzie

    I often hear the School Privatizers tell me that if I don’t like what the religious schools in my area are teaching my children, then I am free to start a private school where my godless, secular, socialist beliefs will be tolerated. “Let the free market decide,” is their usual glib response.

    Now we can see that this line is utter bullshit, because I’m reasonable sure that an application to fund an “atheist school” would meet just as much resistance (if not more) than these Muslims.

    This isn’t about “choice,” it’s about destroying secular education and imposing Christian indoctrination.

  6. 6
    Tualha

    I think they’ll go with the third alternative. Give plenty of money to Christian schools; when any other religion asks, start with intimidation, escalating to death threats, shootings, and/or firebombs as needed, until they withdraw their request. Hey, it worked great on abortion providers.

  7. 7
    robertspam

    You know, and I’m serious about this, we need to begin considering launching our own private Atheist schools. We’d be able to teach our children respect, evolution, science, sex education, etc. without fear of some religious jackass fucking it all up.

  8. 8
    eric

    They should change their motto. I suggest the “would you like fries with that” state.

  9. 9
    sydneylytefoot

    One major problem is that there is no secular equivalent of this:

    http://www.abekaacademy.org/ChristianSchool/MasterVideo/AboutTheProgram.aspx

    This is what this part was talking about

    New Living World, which says it can accept more than 300 vouchers, is one such school. The campus has no library, and classrooms are often adorned with little more than a TV on which biblically-themed DVDs recite the day’s lesson.

    If it isn’t exactly that program, I will be very much surprised. A Beka Academy, like the publishing company A Beka Book, is a ministry of Pensicola Christian College.

    The deal is, for a teeny tiny down payment and a few hundred dollars per student, you can set up a school that has fully-planned curricula and (depending on local regulations) probably doesn’t need fully-qualified teachers, just “teachers aides” that in many places need no more than a high school diploma or, at best, a two-year college degree. (Citation needed, I can’t be fussed to look up the relevant citations at the moment.)

    It should be noted that these ministries don’t just deny evolution; they deny anything that may conflict with their worldview. This includes set theory, essentially the underlying notion of mathematics, on the basis that set theory teaches us that infinity is not absolute, and there is no larger infinity; if we accept the notion of some infinities being larger than others, there must be something greater than god! (Thought that was settled in the nineteenth century? Ha! No.)

    So the question is, who’s going to pony up the money to create a secular alternative? Fact is, for a poor school, A Beka’s program is fairly efficient and affordable. Most of the video lessons are terrible (the bible ones are really quite engaging, interesting to note), but something like this *could* be a functional program.

    Seriously. A secular equivalent of A Beka Academy would be the bomb. Someone start a Kickstarter.

  10. 10
    michaellatiolais

    Start here. Then, pull together some course descriptions from various sources(such as the assorted state curriculum guides), and build a lesson plan. Now, compiling videos and such might be a bit more of a challenge, but I would bet that most of it already exists in places like youtube.

  11. 11
    Phillip IV

    “I won’t go back home and explain to my people that I supported this,” he said.

    Explaining to them why he took a dump on the Constitution? No problem, it’s not like they’re even gonna ask. But explaining to them how equality demands that some of their tax money went to people they don’t like? Utterly suicidal.

  12. 12
    harold

    You know, and I’m serious about this, we need to begin considering launching our own private Atheist schools. We’d be able to teach our children respect, evolution, science, sex education, etc. without fear of some religious jackass fucking it all up.

    I’m actually against that idea (while strongly supporting your right to do it). I support secular schools that don’t really mention religion at all.

    However, I do agree with your broader point. While it’s important to fight for good public education, if it is going to be destroyed, highly cooperative secular/tolerant private schools that can qualify for “vouchers” may well become a necessity.

    After all, some of the best schools in the country are private, and either secular or symbolically attached to a tolerant denomination, and secular in curriculum. They are officially non-profit. The problem is that those schools tend to be excessively exclusive – expensive and favoring of “legacy” applicants. And they tend to have things like scenic grounds, that are nice, but not necessary.

    However, while, again, emphasizing the need to fight for good public education, yes, the model of private schools that are secular and academically rigorous exists, and there’s no need for such schools to be implicitly class or income exclusive.

  13. 13
    denisepatterson-monroe

    “Start here. Then, pull together some course descriptions from various sources(such as the assorted state curriculum guides), and build a lesson plan. Now, compiling videos and such might be a bit more of a challenge, but I would bet that most of it already exists in places like youtube.”

    Better places than Youtube, even – try Khan Academy, Thinkwell courses, Vimeo, the Wolfram Demonstration Project – go to any secular homeschooling website and I’m sure you can find many others, secular homeschoolers have been using this kind of stuff for years :-)

  14. 14
    Spanish Inquisitor

    @12

    Yes. I had the same problem calling it an “Atheist” school. That would simply mean to most people an anti-religious indoctrination school, (which, now that I think about it, is the opposite of all parochial schools, but…)

    Call it a school. Have a charter that forbids all religious teaching, except in appropriate classes like history or philosophy. Emphasize critical thinking, logic, reason, science and the humanities.

    The religious wing nuts will colloquially call it “the Atheist School”, but we would know better. It would actually be what public education was always supposed to be.

  15. 15
    iftikharahmad

    A man is a product of his culture, language anf faith. State funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers would help bilingual Muslim children to develop their cultural, linguistic and spiritual identies before they are exposed to other cultures and faiths. A bilingual muslim child must learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the Natioanl Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time he/she must learn and be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the Holy Quran. On top of that he/she must learn Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with his/her cultural heritage and enjoy the beauty of his/her literature and poetry. Without Muslim schools, Muslim children are not going to develop their Islamic identity, crucial fo their mental, social, emotional and personality development. We have already lost four generations and fifth one is in the process of losing its cultural, linguistic and spiritual Identities.

    Children that can speak more than one languages do better overall in learning and it will help them excel in a job when they are older. Only an idiot would think that being bi/trilingual is a bad thing. I think its great to be surrounded by foreign languages. There are plenty of benefits to learning them, it increases memory and other brain functions, looks great on a job résumé, and most importantly allows you to connect with a different culture and make new friends. Now is the time to teach them all the different languages you want to because they will just soak up the information. As we get older it becomes harder and harder to retrain our brains to learn a new language.

    Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

    There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

    None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  16. 16
    peicurmudgeon

    iftikharahmad – while some of the ideas espoused here, such as multilingual education are indeed valauble, I think pretty all the rest is very biased towards religious education. This may prepare students to live in a Muslim environment, but I doubt it would develop adults capable inclusion in a secular world.

  17. 17
    iftikharahmad

    All religions should be accepted and admired. Everyone has their own god in which they believe in, that’s what makes the world so special. Good luck to him, I love Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jewish etc. it’s nice to be open minded and accept all religions! Let people believe in what ever they want or not believe at all, I dont get why people make a big deal out of everything, after all its his life, same with ours we choose to be and do whatever we want! It’s not religion that causes arguments, it’s close mindedness and ignorance. One must learn to respect we all have the right to believe what ever we want. thank you. All I will say is, respect to be respected, tolerate others and stop the non sense, this world wasn’t created to fit just one type of people, so tolerate!

    You may think that Islam and Christianity are just basically the same.However, they are very different in many aspects, you may not know this but Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. There are many reasons for this, the reasons cannot be explained in one sentence or paragraph. You have to do a bit of research to look into the religion. It makes me so happy to know that many people are CONSIDERING converting to Islam. There is one fundamental and crucial difference between christianity and Islam and that is that Muslims worship God alone without any partners whereas Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God and a part of triune God-head including the Holy Ghost. Muslims are totally against this as it makes no sense i.e. 1 + 1 + 1 cannot make One God but Three Gods in one which is not the case in Islam. We are strict monotheists and that appeals to some people.

    I Am Very very Happy that, liam Neeson become a Muslim and Islam is the best Religion in the world if you become a Muslim. Every Muslim become happy and we proud you. I hope he will study Islam sincerely and justly. I’m sure he will find the truth and peace in it for Islam answers the questions where are we from, what is our purpose here and where are we going. It tells you with certainty, with proofs, the meaning of life itself. Neeson a Muslim?? Well it worked for Cat Stephens…. Look at how well he’s doing now!.. Why are people hating on Islam and Muslims? It is his choice, it is not really any of your business. What we believe is our choice, so have some respect people. Mind your business and we mind ours, simple as it. Where is your so called western freedom? We are free to believe what we want, no one has a gun on your head that you should become a Muslim. Do your thing and we do our thing. Peace!

    Liam is a fantastic actor and I’m sure he will continue to be one. Everyone has a right to freely choose what and who they wish to believe. Islam is not a religion with a prophet and a message via a holy book like Christianity. its a way of life….. It commands what is right and wrong in daily life, it has a social, political, ruling systems, Islams has a sophisticated economic and monetary system which was used until 1924. most people are initially attracted to Islam because of what the Quran has to say about science, human make up planets animals and historical facts. And then you question, how is it possible for someone to to write this over 1400 yrs ago in a small town in Arabia. Let’s be open minded and find out the full facts and then judge. one thing that’s a fact we will all die one day… Don’t we owe ourself the time to investigate why we are on this planet? What happens when we die?

    Death is an inevitable part of life as Muslims we know that “Every soul shall have taste of death; In the end to us shall ye be brought back .(Qur’an 29:57) and even the Prophet was told to expect it “Truly thou wilt die (one day), and truly they (too) will die (one day).” (Qur’an 39:30). Muslims believe that life is a test of our patience and sincerity therefore we must endure when bad things happen to us and be grateful when good things happen because ultimately God is our Lord, we belong to Him and he has the right to do whatever he wills with it. But the ills that we see much in the world today are a result of human beings have created with their own hands, unfortunately.

    The God of the heavens and the earth is One and is alone worthy of worship without any partners. And everyone has a right to their opinion. “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” (Quran 2:256)
    Muslims believe in One God worthy of worship without any partners that includes sons, daughters and wives who is neither a man nor a woman. We believe that He is originator to who created everything on the heavens and the earth but is not Himself created. Simple and uncomplicated.

    Say: He is Allah, the One and Only! Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

    Qur’an (112:1-4)

    (note: Arab christians and Jews refer to G-O-D as Allah as well, meaning Al-Ilah literally One God)

    A few facts to help you along your way – Only 7% of Muslims are Arabs and for every one man that reverts to Islam, THREE women do… Islam gave rights to everything (man, women, the environment including animals) 1,400 years before a woman had to commit suicide under a horse in the UK to gain some female rights.

    For knowledge is surely your friend and ignorance is surely the evil of the cursed devil.

    I wish you all peace and blessings my fellow brothers and sisters…
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislmaics.org.uk

  18. 18
    jnorris

    Scientology and Wicca next year!

  19. 19
    ArtK

    The word you’re looking for is secular not atheist. I know of several (I counted 6 off the top of my head) secular private schools on the west side of Los Angeles and I’m sure there are many others. My sons go to one of them. Sadly, we don’t have a voucher program so we can’t cash in on any bounty from the state.

    @ifikharamad

    Sorry bud, but we’re talking about the United States here. State funded religious schools go against some very basic (though often violated) principles. Look up “separation of church and state” for starters. Peicurmudgeon has it right that religious education doesn’t really prepare one to deal with a secular world.

  20. 20
    DaveL

    State funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers would help bilingual Muslim children to develop their cultural, linguistic and spiritual identies before they are exposed to other cultures and faiths

    I don’t see why children can’t develop their identity while being exposed to other cultures and beliefs. Sure, Muslims have the same right as anyone else to cocoon their children and censor any and all outside influences in an attempt to create intellectual clones of themselves – but is that in fact a good idea? Is it in fact good for the children?

    All religions should be accepted and admired.

    Accepted? Certainly. Admired? Utter bollocks. There is no legitimate reason why religions should be insulated from scrutiny and criticism.

    Everyone has their own god in which they believe in, that’s what makes the world so special.

    No, everybody does not have their own god which they believe in. Many people believe in no gods whatsoever.

  21. 21
    Pinky

    Michaellatiolais thanks for the link. I looked the site over, investigated the producers and sampled the course data with a skeptical eye thinking the site might be a cover for religious indoctrination, but I could find none.

    This may be a way for public schools to get digital textbooks untainted with the dangerous garbage organizations like the Texas State Board of Education lob like parochial stink bombs into the secular education system.

    This would solve some problems for public school administrators who must listen to locals spout the “children are our most precious resource” while voting against funding.

    I would like to see this group move into university level textbooks to relieve the horrendous burden the scam of college textbooks currently places upon students.

    Another way I could tell it was not religulous propaganda was that the site is open source and non-profit. When is the last time you saw a religious site that was non-profit. I’m sure they exist, but they are rare.

    Sidenote: If I ever found a religious person who believed in their message so much they lived in a hovel continuously broke and gave away the tracts they think fellow souls need I would respect, perhaps not their message, but their integrity.

  22. 22
    Pinky

    Iftikharahmad your comment was eloquent, learned and a pleasure to read after seeing the way some of the people who disagree with Ed or the commenters here express themselves.

    However I still disagree with your argument. I think secular schooling is best for America’s children. Religion should be a private affair practiced in the home and church, synagog or mosque.

    IA (if I may call you that) you start with all the correct words:

    “All religions should be accepted and admired.”

    along with some more phrases about being “open minded” and “accepting.” Then you proceed to criticize Christianity:

    Muslims worship God alone without any partners whereas Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God and a part of triune God-head including the Holy Ghost. Muslims are totally against this as it makes no sense i.e. 1 + 1 + 1 cannot make One God but Three Gods in one which is not the case in Islam.

    I think it is downright petty the way religions profess to adhere to a “loving god” yet will argue to the point of death about some small doctrinal details. One deity or three deities in one, who cares? Is this difference in belief enough to fight and kill over? History shows most religions say yes to that question.

    IA you said:

    Islam gave rights to everything (man, women, the environment including animals) 1,400 years before a woman had to commit suicide under a horse in the UK to gain some female rights.

    The bit about “a woman had to commit suicide under a horse” is a fallacy of argument called false dilemma or poisoning the well. It really has no bearing on your Islam is better argument.

    Getting back to your statement, “Islam gave rights [to] women.” Do you really believe this? You should tell the five women in Pakistan who had their throats cut for sitting on the floor singing as two men danced quietly. I could point you to many women in various Muslim countries who have died for thinking they had rights under Islam, but more than one link will send me to commenter limbo.

    As for using Yusuf Islam, nee Cat Stevens, as a shining example of what believing in Islam means, it misses its mark. I remember Cat Stevens, great artist, I loved his music especially “Peace Train.” I also remember Yusuf Islam, after his change to Islam saying of the fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie’s¹ execution:

    “He must be killed. The Qur’an makes it clear – if someone defames the prophet, then he must die.”

    Cat Stevens, prior to conversion to Islam: “Peace Train”, after conversion, Yusuf Islam: Rushdie must die because a religious leader said so. Sure Mr. Islam tried to cover his statement up by saying it “was a joke”, but I’m not buying it.

    I leave you with a quote from the great man Hitchens: “Religion Poisons Everything”

    (¹ You remember Salman Rushdie, the author who wrote “The Satanic Verses” foolishly thinking he was free to write what some Muslim leaders thought was an insult to their religion. Mr. Rushdie was put under fatwa; a command that all Muslims should look for and kill Rushdie wherever they may be. Another action brought to you by the “religion of peace.” )

  23. 23
    Kristjan Wager

    If it isn’t exactly that program, I will be very much surprised. A Beka Academy, like the publishing company A Beka Book, is a ministry of Pensicola Christian College.

    In Denmark, we have a voucher system in place, much like the one that they want to introduce in Louisiana. The only difference (and this is a major one) is that there are a central school curriculum that all schools have to follow, in order to be accredited.

    Some years ago, the anti-immigrant, populist party Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Peoples’ Party), got the education department to go through the religious schools, to ensure that they followed the curriculum. The clear aim was to get Muslim private schools to loose their accreditation.

    Funny thing happened: it turned out that the Muslim schools actually fulfilled the curriculum. Many Christian private schools, on the other hand, didn’t, and were closed down. The schools that were closed, mostly based their teaching on A Beka Academy.

  24. 24
    DaveL

    I’m always suspicious when a new commenter appears and posts an essay-length comment that seems only tangentially related to the discussion at hand. That’s especially true when certain comments (such as “everybody has their god they believe in”) reveal the commenter has spent little or no time reading the rest of the discussion or the blog.

    So I took the liberty of doing a google search on the opening sentences of Mr. Ahmad’s comment, and sure enough it’s been copy-and-pasted seemingly across every article and blog he could find remotely related to the keywords Islamic schools in the west. Clearly we’ve got a live one here.

    Some more choice excerpts from Mr. Ahmad from the LSI discussion forums:

    In Afghanistan 99.9% of teenagers are virgin. The reason is that all teenager girls leave homes wearing Afghani Burkhas. There is no mix gathering. They attend single sex schools. They marry as early as possible. If the teenager girls start wearing Afghani Burkhas or Jilbab, I am sure that they are not going to lose their virginity before marriage. The other alternative is the wearing of Jilbab

    You don’t suppose 99.9% (cite?) report being virgins because the alternative is death by stoning?

    Muslim should adopt British norms of acceptability; that means dating, early sex out side marriage, alcoholism and drug addiction.

    Since when is alcoholism and drug addiction a “norm of acceptability” in British society?

    A Muslim was jailed for life for slitting his daughter’s throat in an “honour killing” after she embraced western culture and began dating a Christian. This is a tragic story of irreconciable cultural differences between a father who had a traditional Muslim upbringing, values and background and a daughter who was a thoroughly westernized woman. Father with strict Muslim beliefs murdered “bright, vibrant” teenager who planned to runaway with Christian boyfriend.

    A man with strict Muslim beliefs would certainly not kill his daughter. Such tragedies have nothing to do with faith or race. Her father could not control his emotions and his un-Islamic action is also liable for punishment under Islamic law. The tragedy could have been avoided if the poor girl was educated in a Muslim school by Muslim teachers.

    So her father had “strict Muslim beliefs” but if he had “strict Muslim beliefs” he would not have killed his daughter? And then you blame the entire incident on the daughter for not being Muslim enough? You monster. Shame on you.

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