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Education: Public School

Working With
Your Children's
Public School Teachers

If your children are in a public school, chances are that their teachers are not Muslims. This may or may not present a major problem.

Definitely, leaving our children with non-Muslims more hours a day than they spend with Muslims is potentially dangerous. However, non-Muslims are not all the same. Some may be very aggressive in their proselytizing and may find your child a prime candidate. Others may be very anti-religion or anti-Islamic. Most may not care about religion at all.

We as Muslim parents can do several things to try to insure that our children get the right kind of education from non-Muslims without getting the negative influences that we want to avoid.

Meet your children's teachers
If several Muslim parents in the community make the teachers aware of some of the special situations of Muslim children, it is possible that kind and caring teachers will be more sensitive when discussing history or events that involve Muslims, when saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and when dealing with "holidays."

Attend PTA meetings
to contribute to the school.

The participation of Muslim parents may influence the school and the teachers to stop or modify un-Islamic activities or negative information about Islam.

Show appreciation if your children's non-Muslim teachers show concern for the needs of Muslim children.

Always be kind and considerate when talking with your children's teachers.

Let the teachers know about the problems your children will face with non-Islamic "holidays," the Pledge of Allegiance, and gym classes.

Perhaps the teacher will find a way to make your child more comfortable during these times. In an article I recently read in The Message International, Aasia Ali, a young Muslim girl, recounted how she informed her gym teacher that she was not allowed to wear shorts, but found the gym teacher uninterested. When the young girl told her father about her problem, he talked with the principal and explained the situation. The principal then excused her from wearing shorts in gym. She then had another problem: the gym locker rooms where the girls changed clothes were not private. She told her father, and he again spoke to the principal. The principal again took care of the problem (Feb. 1990, 35).

Read your children's textbooks
to see what they are being taught.
If you discover any misinformation or anything that disturbs you, put your objections, along with the appropriate corrections, in writing. Arrange a meeting with your child's teacher and the Director of Curriculum to discuss the problem. Always be polite and present yourself as someone who wants to help, not as a critic. They may or may not agree to implement your corrections. If they agree, thank them for their consideration. If they reject your corrections, you should seek additional help from an Islamic organization that deals with this kind of issue. One such organization, CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations), can be contacted at

CAIR
1050 17th Street, N.W., Suite 490
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-659-CAIR (2247)
Fax: 202-659-2254

Another organization that might be able to help is The Council on Islamic Education, which can be reached at

Council on Islamic Education
PO Box 20186
9300 Gardenia St., #B-3
Fountain Valley, CA 92728-0186
Phone: 714-839-2929
Fax: 714-839-2714

Work with local Muslim organizations
to improve the schools' curriculum.

Don't feel that the only time you should get involved is when you see negative information in your children's books. Take the initiative to work with the school and the teachers to add positive information about Islam.

Let your children's teachers know that you can provide Muslim guest speakers to come to the school and make a presentation about Islam and Muslims.

Approach Principal when Discriminated

If you see prejudice or racism in any of your children's teachers, talk to the principal about it.

It's better to go alone the first time so as not to appear
confrontational. If this doesn't help, enlist the support of other Muslim families and Muslim organizations. Don't just ignore it. To report discrimination, you should contact CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations) at the aforementioned address or phone number.

Teachers are more likely to treat Muslim children better and be more sensitive to their issues if they know that Muslim parents are watching and are concerned about their children. By getting involved in your children's education, you will not only be helping your children, but all the Muslim children in the school.

by Ibrahim Bowers

Here is something
available now for you to read:
6 Step Guide to Get Religious Accomodation in the Public School System
Getting Involved in the Public School System is a Religious Obligation!
4 Tips for Parents on Dealing with Misinformation in Public School
Raising Muslim Children in the Public Schools : What Parents Need to Know
7 Tips for Muslim Students: How to Deal With Misinformation in the Classroom
Recent Experience with Urban School Choice Plans
Council on Islamic Education: A Profile
Religious Freedom in Public Schools : Laws You Need to Know About
A Sample Letter to the Teacher of your child for religious accomodation
A sample Thank You Letter to teacher on Religious Accomodation


How to work with Public School Teachers
Dawa in Public School: Some Guidelines

Getting the Most Out of Public School Education

Monitoring Public School Education
A 5th Grad Girl's Dawa Experience in School
Muslim School Vs Public School

Prom: Not Just One Night of Haram
Why I boycotted the Senior Prom? Dawud Wharnsby Ali
5 Prom Tips for Teens
8 Prom Tips for Parents
A Father-Daughter Tipsheet on Dealing with the Prom
[PROM TALK: DISCUSS SOLUTIONS]

WEEKEND ISLAMIC SCHOOLS
Why Send Your Child to a Weekend School
Getting the Most Out of a Weekend School
Challenges of Weekend Islamic Schools

Do you have any experience or an idea regarding this matter? Share it with others:

[DISCUSS PUBLIC SCHOOLS]

[DISCUSS: TEACHER TO TEACHER]

[PARENT TO PARENT]

 

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