Tulsa parents express concern over teacher workshop on Islam

Wednesday, October 20th 2004, 5:48 am
By: News On 6

Several Tulsa citizens are speaking up about a teacher workshop on the Muslim world. The workshop is called "The Arab world and Islam".

Organizers say the goal is to give teachers information on the Muslim culture. But opponents of the class don't want any part of it.

News on 6 Reporter Omar Villafranca looks at both sides.

Opponents of the workshop met at a church Tuesday night. They voiced their opposition to what they're calling the indoctrination of their children. A pastor, who's also a former Muslim, spoke to the group. He says he wants the class stopped before it even starts.

Workshop organizers say the class explains the concepts of Islam, and then discusses Arab issues, like politics, natural resources and culture.

Some people at the meeting don't want any of it taught to their kids. “They've made a big issue about making sure that Christianity and God is not talked about in school so I think it's only right that we stand up and defend our children against being taught things from another religion."

"I believe in Jesus Christ and I prefer him over the Islamic faith so that's why I'm here I want to make sure my voice counts in that."

Educators say the class is designed to inform teachers and to let them use the information when the lesson calls for it. Tulsa School Board member Matt Livingood: “We are not implementing any curriculum for Arab studies or the study of Islam. What was provided at the particular workshop was a set of resources that teacher may or may not incorporate into their regular classroom instruction."

Schools in 42 states have allowed the workshop and according to Oklahoma education standards, one of the goals of teaching history is understanding the world's major religions.

School officials say parents with concerns should talk to their child's teachers and principal about the lesson.