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Kansas Public School Defends Islamic Bulletin Board but Removes it Amid Protests

Published: 13/10/2013 10:23:36 AM GMT
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21 August 2013 A bulletin board at a Wichita elementary school that illustrated the Five Pillars of Islam has been removed &aci (more)

21 August 2013

A bulletin board at a Wichita elementary school that illustrated the Five Pillars of Islam has been removed “because of the misunderstanding that has been promoted by … one photograph,” district officials said Monday. However, they promise to put it back on the wall when the civilization of Islam is taught later in the fall.

The bulletin board was in a hallway outside fourth-grade classrooms at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary, district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said. The material is part of the fourth-grade history and geography curriculum at Minneha.

The bulletin board was intended to aid students' study of major religions of the world, Arensman said. It featured five white, construction-paper columns and the words, “The Five Pillars of Islam.”

A photograph of the bulletin board, reportedly taken on the first day of school Wednesday, was posted over the weekend on a Facebook page titled “Prepare to Take America Back.” It has since been shared on several conservative blogs.

“Students at Minneha Core Knowledge Elementary School in Wichata (sic) Kansas were met with this their first day of school,” a caption under the photo said. “This is a school that banned all forms of Christian prayer. … This can not stand.”

The photo was shared more than 3,700 times.

The school district said that Islam is one of five major religions taught at the school for their historical significance. It has also been pointed out that a painting of the Last Supper is also hanging in the school.

School officials said the photo has been taken out of context.

This statement was released by USD 259, according to KAKE:
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 percent 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.
Minneha, at Central and Webb Road in east Wichita, is the district's only remaining core knowledge magnet. Bryant Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary, 4702 W. Ninth St., closed last year as part of cost-cutting measures and boundary changes.


Suzanne Perez Tobias, "Kansas elementary school removes board showing Five Pillars of Islam" The Kansas City Star August 21, 2013

Evan Bleier, "Kansas School Removes Islamic Bulletin Board Following Online Controversy" Opposing Views August 20, 2013

Reproduced with permission from Islam Today