One Massachusetts father has reportedly pulled his child out of a middle-school history class after learning that the class would discuss the history of Islam.
Anthony Giannino told local outlet WHDH-TV that he was angry to see a section in a Revere Public Schools worksheet describing the Islamic call to prayer. Part of the call to prayer states, "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah."
"No religion should be taught at school. In their paper it says Allah is their only God. That's insulting to me as a Christian who believes in just Jesus only," said Giannino.
According to WHDH, Giannino subsequently pulled his child out of the class, saying, "We don't believe in Allah. I don't believe in my son learning about this here.”
Revere Public Schools Superintendent Paul Dakin told The Huffington Post that Giannino first expressed concern with the curriculum earlier this month. Dakin said to the best of his knowledge that Giannino’s son has been out of class since that time and that the boy would likely receive an incomplete in his history course as a result.
Dakin emphasized that the Revere school district is teaching history, not religion, and that Massachusetts requires middle schools to cover such topics.
In response to Giannino’s public criticism, Dakin sent out a letter to parents clarifying what the letter describes as “misinformation circulating about the teaching of religion in our middle school social studies classrooms.”
“In our middle school classrooms, we teach World Geography in grade 6, Ancient Civilizations in grade 7 and World History I in grade 8. As with all of our courses, what we teach students in these classes is based on Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. These documents identify the specific learning standards and concepts and skills for each grade level and each content area," the letter says.
The letter also points out that "no religion is taught with the purpose of converting students to that religion, insulting their own religious beliefs, or promoting the beliefs of one religion as superior to the beliefs of another."
Dakin noted to HuffPost that it would be impossible to teach history accurately without explaining the importance of religious faith.
If the schools had to "purge all the religion out of all the history we teach," he said, "we wouldn’t be able to talk about the Pilgrims or Plymouth, ... about why they were coming [to America] because of religious beliefs.”
A letter from various community groups released last week expressed support for the school district.
“Teaching about the world’s religions, including Islam, is widely recognized as a lawful and important part of a quality education in the public schools,” says the letter, which was endorsed by groups representing Revere parents and students as well as the Islamic Council of New England.