Parents of students at Greenville, Virginia’s Riverheads High School were shocked by a recent assignment given in World Geography class.
Classroom teacher, Cheri Laporte, asked students to practice “calligraphy” by copying the Muslim statement of faith, also known as the shahada, which translates as:
“There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
Recitation of the shahada is a fundamental step in conversion to Islam.
The Riverheads High School calligraphy assignment (Courtesy The Schilling Show)
The ‘Muslim-friendly’ calligraphy assignment took place in a world geography class. The teacher had the kids copy the Muslim statement of faith, also known as the shahada.
“Neither these lessons, nor any other lesson in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” the district said in a statement provided to Fox News.
According to parents, students were not informed of the translation or of the specific meaning of the Arabic text the students were being asked to copy.
In other words, there were more than likely a few Christian teenagers in that room who had no idea they were writing, “There is no god but Allah.”
In addition, parents confirm that female students were invited to don Muslim apparel and subsequently were photographed in costume by the teacher. (Reportedly, an administrator has since disposed of the photos.)
A post-assignment emergency meeting held with the teacher, a parent, and schools administration yielded the following additional information:
- Teacher Laporte was aware of the translation of the text assigned and was unapologetic over the assignment itself
- Apparel representing other religions was not presented in the lesson
- Teacher Laporte previously had circulated a Koran in the classroom, but had intentionally declined to make a Bible available because “all of the students already have read or seen a Bible”
- School administration confirmed that this lesson was not in the Augusta School Division’s approved curriculum for World Geography
After the emergency meeting, one parent responded in reference to the teacher:
I do not trust her to teach my son and regardless of the outcome he will not sit in her classroom. I am in the process of forgiving her but I do not trust her.
Riverheads High School Principal, Max Lowe, did not directly acknowledge an inquiry requesting confirmation of the incident, clarification of policy, and disciplinary measures, if any, taken against Ms. Laporte.
A community meeting of concerned parents is scheduled for further discussion of the assignment and its aftermath.
But the school district doesn’t seem to think that’s a problem.
“The statement presented as an example of the calligraphy was not translated for students, nor were students asked to translate it, recite it or otherwise adopt or pronounce it as a personal belief,” the district stated.
They said it was all about the art — not about the theology.
“They were simply asked to attempt to artistically render written Arabic in order to understand its artistic complexity,” they stated.
And out of sheer coincidence — out of all the Arabic words and phrases the teacher could have selected, she picked the Islamic statement of faith?
The district said the assignment was consistent with the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning and the requirements for content instruction on world monotheistic religions.
And what about having the female students dressing up in Islamic garb — is that consistent with the state mandates, too?
The district said the students were taught about the “modest dress adopted by many in the Islamic faith and were invited to try on a scarf as a part of an interactive lesson about the Islamic concept of modest dress.”
“The scarf used in the activity was not an actual Islamic religious hijab,” the district stated.
The district said they also cover other religions — including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism.
However, one parent told The Schilling Show that while the Koran was presented to students, the Bible was not. The teacher reportedly declined to provide a Bible because all the students have either read or seen a Bible.
The district said there’s really not a controversy here. They just wanted students to participate in “hands-on activities intended to give them a better objective understanding of the region and its culture (including its religions and to allow for interactive learning.”
Perhaps the next time the kids at Riverheads High School practice their calligraphy skills they can learn a new word — “indoctrination.”