Maury County parents concerned over school assignment on Islam

(Photo: WKRN)

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some parents in Maury County are speaking out about their concerns over what their children are learning in school.

Andrea Edwards says she is outraged that her child is being taught about Islam in her seventh grade Social Studies class.

Edwards tells News 2 she was surprised to learn that her daughter, who attends E.A. Cox Middle School, was given assignments this week focused on Islam, in particular the Islamic faith.

“I’m offended that they are learning about Muhammad and all his beliefs and practices with their Gods. It’s just not right. Why should my daughter have to learn about that?” questioned Edwards.

The mother of two isn’t alone in how she feels. Many parents disagree with the curriculum and have been outspoken on social media.

The lesson is part of learning about the history of the world. According to the curriculum, posted on the school district’s website, they plan to also teach about history and religion in Japan, China, Africa and Western Europe.

The district insists it is following state teaching standards.

Thursday afternoon Dr. Chris Marczak, Director of Maury County Schools, placed a robocall to all seventh grade parents.

He also posted a message on the school district’s Facebook page that said:

By now, many of you have heard what is taking place with concerns to the teaching section of middle school social studies. The standards that we have in place from the State of Tennessee are newer standards that were developed in 2013 and implemented last year, 2014-15 school year. In middle school, the standards have us address early American History, world history early civilizations to the Roman Empire, middle ages through exploration of the Americas, and colonization to reconstruction of the Americas.

Our teachers work together to make sure that our students are learning what is expected through the Tennessee academic standards. For this last section on the Islamic World this past week, our educators had students complete an assignment that had an emphasis on Islamic Faith. The assignment covered some sensitive topics that are of importance to Islamic religion and caused some confusion around whether we are asking students to believe in or simply understand the religion. It is our job as a public school system to educate our students on world history in order to be ready to compete in a global society, not to endorse one religion over another or indoctrinate.

I encourage all Maury County parents to be their child’s first and main teacher. It is our job as parents of our own children to instill in them the beliefs of our individual households. It’s important that we establish a good working relationship with our children’s teachers and schools so that when there are questions or concerns, teachers and principals are the first line of asking. If we are truly going to Grow Maury County together, then we need to openly talk and discuss about what we want to emphasize in our county. I encourage you to talk with your children, talk with your teachers, and talk with your principals. We are here to help your children be prepared for Life.”

Thursday afternoon, many parents thanked the director for clarifying the confusion on Facebook.

Even after hearing the call, Edwards says she still has concerns.

Edwards says if her children are going to learn about major religions, she believes they should do so equally.

A page from the school book. (Photo: WKRN)
A page from the school book. (Photo: WKRN)

“Christianity will be taught as part of history as it relates to the people and their culture,” according to school officials.

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