Saturday, March 08, 2008

Warning! Warning! Warning!

Lethal levels of irony ahead.

Katherine Kersten wrote a column today (it's actually in the Sunday paper edition; it was up Saturday night on the web) taking a charter school to task for being religious and using public funds.

What? How can that be? Katie hates public schools. She loves charter and parochial schools and supports taxpayer-paid vouchers to send kids to 'em.

Well, it's true grasshopper. Of course, it's a school that Katie says is a Muslim school.

Why didn't you say so, Spotty? Katie hates Muslims. Muslim cabbies, Muslim airline passengers, you name it. What'd she have to say?

Well right off, Katie doesn't like the name of the school:

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) -- named for the Muslim general who conquered medieval Spain -- is a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights.

Naming a school after a military leader? Dastardly! Never mind Stonewall Jackson High School, or Robert E. Lee High School. Why naming schools after traitors to the United States is one thing, but naming a school after a Muslim is just out of bounds!

And Katie is suspicious about the school's claim that:

TIZA uses the language of culture rather than religion to describe its program in public documents. According to its mission statement, the school "recognizes and appreciates the traditions, histories, civilizations and accomplishments of the eastern world (Africa, Asia and Middle East)."

Spot thought you liked schools that taught civilization, Katie. Or is that only western civilization?

Katie's feathers are ruffled about this, too:

TIZA's strong religious connections date from its founding in 2003. Its co-founders, Zaman [the principal] and Hesham Hussein, were both imams, or Muslim religious leaders, as well as leaders of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN).

It's a good thing Christians have never been involved in charter schools! Well, maybe some. Bill Cooper and Don Samuels for example (just use Google, boys and girls).

Here's how Katie winds up:

TIZA has improved the reading and math performance of its mostly low-income students. That's commendable, but should Minnesota taxpayers be funding an Islamic public school?

The answer is, of course, "NO" Katie, but it shouldn't support schools like Ascension Academy and Higher Ground, either.


Andy Birkey had a good article about this Katie column at Minnesota Monitor. Read especially the comments of The Wind in his Sails - Craig Westover - to see the intricate thinking of somebody who doesn't think there is a wall of separation between church and state. Ironically, he seems to disagree with Katie, too, but he has the opposite reason for doing so. With the stale fish stick smell of meatless Friday afternoons in Spot's old elementary school, Sticks lays out his tired vision of what education "should" be. He refers to the Core Knowledge curriculum, designed whether Sticks admits it or not, to demonstrate the superiority of western culture.

One of Sticks' insinuations is that you can't have a moral agenda without religion. This is just an update to a post, so Spot won't get into that, but it's rubbish. Religion is the first moral scheme that most people encounter, but that certainly doesn't mean it's the only source.

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