In 2010, the Department of Education distributed more grant monies under its Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) that at any other time. One of the recipients was a Texas school district that had applied for funding of an Arabic language and culture program.
The Department of Education has identified Arabic as a ‘language of the future.’ But parent Joseph Balson was frustrated by the past. “Why are we just now finding out about it?” asked Balson. “It’s them (Mansfield ISD) applying for the grant, getting it approved and them now saying they’ll go back and change it only when they were caught trying to implement this plan without parents knowing about it.”
Trisha Savage thinks it will offer a well-rounded education. “I think its a great opportunity that will open doors. We need to think globally and act locally.”
Mansfield ISD says in addition to language, the grant provides culture, government, art, traditions and history as part of the curriculum.
Some parents had concerns over religion. “The school doesn’t teach Christianity, so I don’t want them teaching Islam,” said parent Baron Kane. During Monday’s meeting Morrison stressed the curriculum would not be about religion, but about Arabic language and culture, similar to the Spanish curriculum already in place in the district. [dfw.cbslocal.com]
Realistically, it is difficult to study Arab culture without some sense of Islam. It would be like studying 15th Century Italian painting without knowing the altarpieces were Christian.
That same year, Minnesota received grants for German, Mandarin and Spanish. Iowa and its neighbor to the north, Minnesota, have had German, Chinese and now Spanish immigrants. [ education.state.mn.us]
For 2011, the US Department of Education does not anticipate offering any FLAP grants. These grants were instituted under the “No Child Left Behind” act of 2001. [ncela.gwu.edu]
Teaching Arab culture and language are skills needed by the State Department, the CIA, Businesses, and many other areas of the economy to keep us competitive.
The concern is that the school system did not announce their intent to file such a grant and to allow feedback from parents.
Most troubling is the large amount of money the Department spent last year in the midst of another great depression. It is a relief no grants will be made this year. We need language programs in this country desperately. But we do not need over spending by government and we don’t need schools to be less than candid with parents about proposed curriculum changes.
The entire matter is of course an emotional on due to the shattered relations between the US and Islam in general. Things will no doubt grow worse before they get better. Sadly to regain cultural control in Europe and here for the European culture will demand going against the constitution and limiting the rights of a segment of society. Muslims are well aware that the west will have to abandon their principles to control the Muslim population and influence in Europe – that next battleground.
Prime Minister Cameron of Britain just this week called for a reexamination of the recent acquiescence and accommodations to Muslim culture to the detriment of local culture.
We are in the midst of a global cultural and political war with Islam. It is complicated and emotional and aside from bombs, is pretty much relegated to the realm of mind war games. Incidents like the FLAP Arabic grant to the Texas school district just open another front in this war.
It is curious, there did not seem to be a reaction to spending money to teach Mandarin in Minnesota. Arabs have murdered our people since 9/11 but we have been fighting proxy wars with China since the Korean War. Additionally, China is worrisome economically, politically and increasingly directly re their militarily. So why is Islam more of a problem? This core issue demands more discussion and this blog will be a place for just that in coming months.
see also Stevex09: