Parent Stews Over Son's Islamic Assignment
School Defends Hajj Writing
Last Updated: 945 days ago
Some parents of a Morgan County middle school said they are outraged by an assignment that asks students to write about their experience on a Hajj.A Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca and is one of the pillars of the Islamic faith.Seventh-graders at Martinsville East Middle School were asked to write at least 125 words "as though you are on the journey to Mecca and are writing in your journal about what you see and experience," 6News' Joanna Massee reported."I feel strongly that if the same assignment was given from a Christian standpoint, whether it was your experience at the Passover or if you were there when Christ was crucified or anything like that, the ACLU or any other organization like that would be up in arms," said Ron Fletcher, a parent of one of the students.Fletcher said he has no problem with people of the Islamic faith, but he thinks the assignment was inappropriate for a public school."My daughter's perception and other parents' perception by speaking with them by Facebook and on the phone is that we want our children to write about experiencing one of the pillars of Islam -- I think that takes it a little too far," Fletcher said.Principal Eric Bowlen defended the assignment, saying that it is all about expanding students' knowledge of the beliefs of others and that there are examples of various cultures taught in class. He referenced a specific state education standard -- 7.1.4 -- as the reason Islamic studies are part of curriculum."I can give you a couple of examples that we've done. For example, these kids, when they're done with this culmination, which is a comparison of the religions that the state of Indiana has, they're going to be able to write like 'The Diary of Anne Frank,'" Bowlen said. "In class, I have had students write a letter home from the war front as if they are a soldier fighting for our country. Obviously, I am not recruiting the children for the military, but I am putting them in a position to understand what a soldier will go through."Parent Lisa Ratts said she disagrees with Fletcher and is happy that her son is being exposed to the cultures of others."What concerns me and what upsets me is that I think this is such a beautiful thing, learning about other people's cultures," she said.Bowlen said that parents who have an issue with an assignment should talk to him, and that the school is willing to be flexible.Bowlen said the Islam assignment may be adjusted in the future to include different options for students.