|Back to November Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 250||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 2006|
|California Students Must Study Islam|
The Excelsior public school in Byron, California was teaching 7th graders how to act like Muslims, using a student guide stating, "From the beginning [of this module], you and your classmates will become Muslims."
The students were given Muslim names and told to recite Muslim prayers. They were required to give up things for a day to recognize the Islamic practice of Ramadan, and students said that the teacher gave extra credit for fasting at lunch too. Students were told to recite from the Koran, encouraged to wear Arab clothing, told to pretend they were making a pilgrimage to Mecca, and earned points for using Muslim religious phrases such as one meaning "God is great." For the final exam, the students had to write an essay about Islamic culture. The essay assignment warned students as follows: "BE CAREFUL HERE if you do not have something positive to say, don't say anything!!!"
The school district argued for the court's approval of this course in order to give the teachers assurance they would not be sued for teaching about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving or Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The Byron school district still continues to make the same instructional materials available for use by teachers. In 2003, this public school received a Distinguished School Award from the California Department of Education, declaring it to be one of the state's "most exemplary and inspiring public schools."