By Kyle Olson
UNION GROVE, Wis. – Pretend you’re a Muslim. That’s what a 10th grade World History writing assignment asks students to do at a Wisconsin high school.
WISN talk radio host Vicki McKenna posted Union Grove High School teacher Beth Urban’s email for a five-paragraph essay on Twitter.
–Pretend you are:
1. Muslim male/female in U.S.
2. Give 3 examples of what you do daily for your religion and any struggles you face.
3. Again, 5 paragraphs (intro, 3 body paragraphs, closing.)
**Keep in mind we’ve been doing work and watching documentaries that have the facts needed to write the essay.
EAGnews emailed Urban to obtain more information on the assignment but she did not respond.
Specifically, we wanted to know if there were similar assignments based on other religions or just Islam, as well as what documentaries were watched to prepare for the essay.
A parent of the student who received the assignment tells EAGnews, “I feel that the purpose of the assignment is to show prejudices towards Muslims in America or to invent them or exaggerate them.”
The parent, who asked to remain anonymous, doesn’t blame the teacher for the essay’s instructions.
“I did not voice my concerns directly to the teacher because I do not blame the teacher. I believe this is a curriculum issue. The teachers are not using their own curriculum, the school boards/superintendents do generally,” according to the parent.
“I brought attention to it because I felt that it was inaccurate for World History. I would have no problem with this assignment if they were to pretend they were in the Middle East and practicing their religion. I first was bothered because it seems that if any Catholic issues are brought up attention is brought to the school and (the assignment) banned being a public school.”
EAGnews reported on another controversial lesson two years ago – almost to the day – at the same high school.
At that time, students were given a crossword puzzle that defined conservatism as “the political belief of preserving traditional moral values by restricting personal freedoms … ”
The assignment begs to have a few questions answered.
First of all, what documentaries were watched and who produced them? The Middle East is known for producing several “documentaries” that are full of propaganda and anti-American sentiment. Is that truly the type of video that our students should be exposed to? Were there other videos shown to balance the debate on the subject?
Is this assignment a conflict between separation of church and state? There have been many documented cases of Christian students being denied the ability to pray in public school and today’s history books have been mostly stripped of Christian history. Why is Christianity allowed to be shunned in our public schools while teachers are allowed to assign an assignment as religious based as this?
Most importantly, are the parents of Union Grove High School aware that this type of assignment is allowed in the school’s curriculum? How about the local school board?
The role of a history class is to teach history and not to show sympathy for any religious group. Hopefully the parents will remind the faculty of this so these type of assignments can be avoided in the future.
You could remind them too, however Beth Urban is no longer listed in the Staff Directory, only a gym teacher named Jeff Urban, possibly her husband. It seems the school has flushed her webpage down the memory hole, archive and all.
Keep in mind that disrespectful, incoherent ranting won’t help.
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