Jenison school officials say religion project on Islam was not aimed at third graders

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JENISON, Mich. – A parent who posted concerns about a world history assignment on Facebook started a controversy but misinterpreted what the assignment was all about, Jenison High School’s principal told FOX 17.

Jenison High School Principal Brandon Graham told FOX 17 that an annual world history assignment was taken out of context.

The parent's Facebook post shows one of six pages from a world history project on learning about Islam. The post stated the assignment was a "third grade project” and caused an outcry among parents who asked why religion specifically Islam, was being taught in public schools.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times in today's society, information is spread very quickly without maybe knowing all the facts,” said Graham.

"The assignment was to cover the five major world religions: the religions included Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam,” Graham said. “In our social studies classes, we certainly study all those religions to learn how a people, group, and culture function. It helps us understand culture."

The objective of a world religion project was for high school students to synthesize the main concepts of Islam into a pamphlet, Graham said. The assignment rubric states that the student's "pamphlet should be targeted towards elementary students," meaning the information should be explained in a way that a third grader could understand.

Graham explained that the high school students’ work would not be given to any younger students. "I have a third grade son in the district myself, and this was the farthest thing from being introduced to third graders,” said Graham.

Moving forward, Graham said the project would not be changed in the future but the assignment's language would be clarified.

"Our teachers do a tremendous job of teaching the world history content,” said Graham. “Reviewing the content that we've got, we want to make sure that we're very specific in simplifying concepts. Certainly putting any language that says, 'Be able to present to a third grader,' would not be in the future rubric."

Graham told FOX 17 that he spoke with the concerned mother over the phone on Friday. He said the two are scheduled to meet this Tuesday to further discuss and clarify this world history project.

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  • Ramona Walter

    This should not be aimed at anyone in or out of schools much less third graders. You have these sneaks and communist teaching your kids in schools now. They need monitoring by family members whenever possible because they poison the minds of our children. This is how ISIS is recruiting. Just like Hitler did. Start them when they’re young and they know no difference.

    • Michael

      This project covered the world’s five major religions. Not sure how you’re getting a communist plot to brainwash our children out of it. I assume you’re concerns extend to Judaism and Christianity as well?

      • skinnercitycyclist

        Your mistake is assuming she is thinking. She seems to believe that teachers such as myself are Nazi commies recruiting kids for ISIL in US public schools. Do not look for her reasoning: there is no there there.

      • Thomas

        The problem with the fair doctrine your advocating here is that it is not a good argument.

        If we must assume that the Supreme court made no Error, in interpreting the anti-establishment clause for the Christian Religion, then it must equally apply to any other religion, either it is or it is not, there is no in-between for one religion over another, there is no provision providing the coverage of religion in any concept IF we hold that the supreme court was correct in its interpretation of the constitution which lets face it this court has made mistakes in the past.

    • skinnercitycyclist

      Wow. Communism, Nazism, and Islamic radicalism, all in the same wild screed. As a social studies teacher, let me suggest you read a real book once in a while and learn something about the world you inhabit. Your awareness about public school teachers could use some work as well. Ignorant teabagging is no substitute for knowledge and rational thought.

      • Linda Brown

        If the teacher had the students make a pamphlet for each of the religions according to what they read, the school wouldn’t have had the problem they have now. Buy choosing only Islam it can and has been looked upon as propaganda. This is most likely the case as the teaching is wrong. You of all people should know Jehovah and Allah are not the same God. One is the God of peace and the other a God of hate. Those who worship Allah are in the news all the time killing, beheading, ans butchering people. Even their own. I would suggest you relearn the history of these people and the real religion they have. Yes, Hitler taught the children very well in Germany about hating others. I have known several WWII survivors both Jewish and German and they all stated that Hitler brainwashed all the children he could. Children had their own parents arrested.

        • skinnercitycyclist

          I have no idea why you think I “of all people” should share your hysteria concerning Islam. Don’t drag me into your bigoted screeching. All your gods are imaginary friends, and they all love the smell of human blood. Tell Dr George Tiller how peaceful Xians are. And I do not recall the assignments pertaining to the other faiths, but I imagine they were analogous, i.e., explanatory of the religion to enable assessment of student learning.

          By the way, those Nazis you and others so gratuitously brought in? 100% Christian.

    • Kate S

      I will say this again as I have said on many other posts. These pamphlets were not going to be given to anyone. The goal was to be able to explain it in terms a 3rd grader could understand. And we do projects for the other religions too. I’m a sophomore at that school and did that exact same assignment. I saw absolutely no concern. And mt teacher made it optional. If we had a problem with it, we could talk to him about it and not have to do it. My thinking was that even if it was optional, I would do it. I learned a lot about the meaning behind Islam. We don’t talk about ISIS or modern events. We study Islam as a religion for the sake of history. How it affected the world. Same with Christianity. We study how it started and how it affected the world with its start. And it poisons the minds of the children? How? Because it’s a different belief than what you yourself have? Because it is different? Because it was the religion of some extremists which I might have we have in all societies and religions. Christianity as well. I’m just 16. I made my decision about religion 2 years ago. I don’t have one. They don’t “start us young”. We learn it as sophomores, mainly 15 and 16 Years old. Yet parents start their children on the religion that they choose as soaps they can. Who is starting who young?

      • reelstuff10

        The Supreme court ruled on this matter, they probably do so in error, however if you cannot establish a religion by Christian Prayer or speaking about the Christian Religion in schools then you cannot do so with any other religion, remember its the word “Religion” it does not exclude any religion.

        Its a clear violation of the anti-establishment clause, (If the supreme court is correct in its interoperation)

  • Sonia

    This is a white washed sugar coated version of islam. I am an ex muslim, and I would be damned if i let any school try to teach my children about islam. Especially false information. Do they let the students know that if a muslim leaves Islam, they are given the death penalty?

  • Free Radical

    9:29 Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.
    9:33 It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike it.
    9:73 O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.
    9:123 O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.

    47:4 So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others.
    47:35 So do not weaken and call for peace while you are superior; and Allah is with you and will never deprive you of [the reward of] your deeds.

  • Scott

    So learning about the world’s five major religion is communist (because Karl Marx never said “religion is the opiate of the masses.” And religion was totally legal in the USSR). Half the people that posted here are a special kind of stupid. Yes, we know you want to teach your children how to be good tea party members that get all of their information about the world from memes, but that only works if you keep your child from actually learning any kind of critical thinking skills. If you don’t like your kids having a real education, then home school them so they can have a stymied intellect like yourselves.

  • Connie Flick

    Islam projects should not be a school assignment, PERIOD! This must stop. I very definately would be at the school refusing to allow my child do this assignment and questioning the teacher. Probably removing my child from that class. I will not allow my child to be indoctrinated.

    • skinnercitycyclist

      Yep, you go ahead and keep your child ignorant. Teach him to hide his head in a bible, fingers in ears, “la-la-la-la-la.” Did it ever occur to you to use it as a teachable moment, where you can present your own views (narrow and absurd though they may be) in distinction to those taught at school? Not much of a believer in the free marketplace of ideas, are you?

      Actually, you WILL allow your child to be indoctrinated, but at your church of choice, as of course is your right. Do not, however, insist that we limit MY child’s education to accommodate your narrow prejudices and fears. Versteh?

    • Kate S

      I agree with cyclist. You are probably Christian I am assuming since those are the majority of the people getting worked up about this. We were taught about Christianity as well as Islam. What if an Islamic mother had said all this about Christianity? No one would bat an eye. But because Islam is getting such a bad reputation now, it’s all we care about. We are learning about them on a historical base. About the mean it and how they got started. Same with Christianity. We don’t learn about the current struggles with the church for them forcing their religion onto people so they cannot get married. They don’t teach us about the hate crimes and killings that happen everyday by Christians to gay and lesbian people. We learn how Christianity was started and how it affected the world with its start. Same with Islam. Please note that I am a 16 year old sophomore from that school. I used to go to church until my open minded parents let their child choose what she wanted to do for herself. I haven’t been to church in probably 3 years. So why do I think more open minded about topics like this when Christianity, the religion who is supposed to be based off of love, is tearing people down and not allowing them a say? Please respond. I would adore to hear your answer.

  • Mike

    I am always appalled by the fact that ignorance is often met by arrogance. The mother was arrogant, and ignorant. Let’s say this out loud, because according to the Bible one has to speak the truth. The foundations of all religions should be taught at school, the same way as foreign languages. It’s no surprise that most of higher/University education and research is conducted by immigrants in this country. Kids are not exposed to any diversity and by the time they are college students they are often left with little critical thinking.

  • Sarah Jones Geer

    Good grief people are so xenophobic and ignorant. The assignment was obviously- to anyone with more than three firing neurons that is- meant to have the student explain the religion being studied in a simple way, such that an elemntary school child could theoretically understand it. It was clearly to determine how well the student digested the material, since asking them to explain it to someone else is a good indicatorof understanding.

    Shouldn’t parents actually ASK a teacher if they have an issue with an assignment instead of making an idiot of themselves on social media?

    • skinnercitycyclist

      You are making the same mistake the original complainant made in thinking this was an assignment for third-graders. It was an assignment for high school students to explain it at the level of a third-grader. I will not comment on whether you are stupid, I am sure your friends could answer that question, but you might want to hone up on your reading skills.