Monday, August 19, 2013
A photo of an Islamic display at a Wichita school has led to controversy online, but the school district says it's being taken completely out of context.
Late last week, a photo of a display that depicts the Five Pillars of Islam was posted online. That picture was taken at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet School.
Since then, the image has been showing up as a hot topic on social media posts as well as several websites. Several comments showing up online are questioning the display, asking why Islam, or any religion, is being taught at a Wichita public school.
The school district says that religion is an important component of the history of civilizations, and that students who attend Minneha cover the five major religions of the word. They have removed the display, but say the photo has been taken out of context.
Today, this statement was released by USD 259:
Religion is an important component of the history of civilizations. Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet students cover the five major religions of the world - Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam - as part of their Core Knowledge magnet curriculum. The students study civilizations throughout time, throughout the world, and cover religion with a focus on the history and geography in the development of civilizations.
The bulletin board that originally caused the concern does represent the 5 Pillars of Islam - in a historical context of their studies. There is also a painting of the Last Supper hanging in the school as part of the study of art and the Renaissance period. The students at Minneha have received these lessons for years as part of their Core Knowledge curriculum. A photo taken of a bulletin board without context is misleading, and some have taken it out of context without having all the information. Because of the misunderstanding that has been promoted by that one photograph, the bulletin board has been taken down until the unit is taught later this fall.
Minneha is a Core Knowledge magnet school. As a school of choice, more than 60% of Minneha's students apply for admission to the school in order to receive the Core Knowledge education that is the foundation of the school. As part of the Core Knowledge curriculum, which is overseen by a national foundation devoted to Core Knowledge education, children are introduced in the early grades to major world religions, beginning with a focus on geography and major symbols and figures. In the fourth grade the focus is on history, geography and the development of civilization. The purpose is not to explore the matters of theology, but to understand the place of religion and religious ideas in history. The Core Knowledge goal is to familiarize, not proselytize; to be descriptive, not prescriptive.
A letter was also sent home to parents Monday afternoon. Click here to read it.