Parents in Florida are raging over a high school textbook they say contains too much emphasis on Islam and not enough on Christianity.
To try and quell the anger, leaders at Brevard Public Schools have decided to add a supplemental guide to accompany the “World History” book by publisher Prentice Hall.
Detailing the fix Tuesday night, the school board said it will assemble a local committee of experts to create a guide so that the content about Islam is balanced with more diverse content.
The issue surrounding the “World History” book, however, extends beyond the district, with 50 percent of Florida ninth graders apparently using it in class over the past three years. Politicians and others who have reviewed the book claim that it includes 36 pages on Islam, but only three paragraphs on Christianity.
Additionally, some critics say Islam is favored and given a platform not afforded to other religious constructs — for one, students are prompted to read the Koran but not the Christian Bible. Conservative commentator Todd Starnes has said the book refers to Muhammad, Islam’s most famed prophet, as a “messenger of God.”
WESH-TV has more about the work-around that the Brevard school board is proposing — one that will potentially save the district thousands of dollars instead of having to reorder a new book:
“I as a board member want to make sure all perspectives are out there,” board member Amy Kneessy said during a meeting Tuesday, according to WESH. “Let’s use this as a teaching moment. This is what the book says, but here are some other perspectives.”
Lawmakers first started speaking out about the book last month, noting problematic elements surrounding Islam and its comparative treatment to other religious structures.
Florida state Rep. Ritch Workman, a Republican, charged that the book has an overtly pro-Islam bias.
“It’s remarkably offensive to me,” he told WESH. “This book very much sugar coats the rise of Islam to be this wonderful new world order, while teaching that Christianity is dogmatic.”
A few weeks back, Starnes accused the district of previously defending the book. He quoted a Brevard Public Schools spokeswoman who said “an analysis of one textbook cannot provide a balanced understanding as to what the students in Brevard Public Schools are learning throughout their academic careers.”
He also claims that Prentice Hall has defended the text, calling it “balanced.”
“Pearson and its authors adhere to the highest editorial standards when creating course materials, which undergo a rigorous review process,” a spokesperson told Starnes. “A review of the book shows there is balanced attention given to the beliefs of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.”
While it does seems curious that a textbook would spend 36 pages speaking about one faith and only a few paragraphs speaking about another, supporters may argue that spending more time on Islam could be seen as an opportunity to fill knowledge gaps.
But it seems even local leadership has taken the position that the discrepancy is just too great. Whether or not the board’s new plan to confront the problem will work remains to be seen.
Featured Image Credit: Prentice Hall