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Why I Am Proud of Daphne High School for Offering Arabic as a Foreign Language

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I wrote this letter in response to parents at one of our children's schools who objected to the school offering Arabic as a foreign language. They feared that their children would be learning a "culture of hate," would be indoctrinated into this culture and that we would be "eroding our society to a Muslim-based society." I can only take so much before I start writing letters. Please feel free to share a letter encouraging tolerance and understanding.

Dear Daphne High School,

I have read the recent article posted on Al.com and would like to express my pride in your decision to offer Arabic at Daphne High School. I have five children in public school, one at Daphne High School. I am a big believer in public education. Decisions like yours to offer and defend the offering of this course are teaching our children all of the right lessons.

I am raising my children to be be informed, to be open-minded, to be tolerant of everyone alike or different, to question authority without disrespecting it. I am teaching them that they have the power to become informed and educated and by listening to others, make decisions on their own. Your decision supports my goals.

Narrow-mindedness is bred by ignorance. To listen to those who have said that by teaching Arabic at school, you are teaching "a culture of hate," would be to encourage ignorance in students that limits their abilities to form their own opinions. Thank you for ignoring that narrow mindedness.

Open-mindedness is taught by exposing children to different people, cultures, and viewpoints. By allowing them access to language and culture from around the world, you are reinforcing the idea that it is okay to be different from each other. Thank you for encouraging diversity.

Tolerance is taught by example. By allowing children access to different culture, language and religion through education, you are teaching them to embrace those who are or believe differently and encouraging open and respectful discussion. Thank you for teaching tolerance.

Our country was founded by immigrants. We are a country of many languages, cultures, religions and traditions. By learning about all of our cultures and roots, by learning about all of our histories, by learning about all of our religions, we teach our children to live with an understanding of others rather than a fear or hatred of them. Thank you for teaching that understanding makes it impossible to hate.

Providing children information from every perspective gives them the belief and the tools to change their futures and impact the world. By teaching them an understanding and practical knowledge of a different and globally significant culture and language, you are empowering our children to participate in a global market, to embrace a global perspective and to teach others these same skills thereby changing the future... maybe even reducing hate and fear bred by ignorance.

We live in an area with a great deal of diversity and however you believe, it is important for all children to know that anything is possible and barriers of all kinds can be conquered, even the barrier of judging those who are different from you.

Elizabeth Denham