In a recent interview with the Brooklyn Paper Dhabah Almontaser, principal designate of the proposed Khalil Gibran International Academy, stated:
"What will be different [is that] we will be able to infuse historical information into math and science and literature...With any foreign language you engage in, you need to learn the history, culture and customs of the people in order to navigate the language effectively and not offend anyone."
In response to a question of how "historical information" will be infused into "math...science and literature" she said:
"In math, as you know, algebra originated from the Arab world. So, we'll look at the historic background of algebra."
This is indicative of the revisionist pro-Arabist perspective that Khalil Gibran will display under Almontaser's leadership. It will be politicized education reinforced by the coterie of Islamist groups who are affiliated with the school and who will seek similar influence on KGIA's educational methodology.
Almontaser's publicly expressed intent to operate from a culturally biased viewpoint cogently outlines what is wrong with this concept and her assertion that algebra is a creation of Arabic culture is at best flawed.
If there was a "father" of algebra is was Diophantus of Alexandria, a Greek who was born around 200 and died nearly 85 years later. The discipline was influenced by others who were working in this field including Indian mathematicians who developed the idea of zero - it is important to note that Arab supremacists have also attempted to claim ownership of this important concept.
While there can be no doubt that Babylonian [present day Iraq] mathematicians were also working in this area and made contributions, to make the broad claim that "algebra originated from the Arab world" looms as the type of political mindset that will be on full display when and if Khalil Gibran becomes a reality.
This brand of cultural revisionism is reminiscent of the bad old day in the Soviet Union, where all important inventions and contributions to mankind were ascribed and attributed to Marxists and or Soviets.
In the present context, it demonstrates just how ideologically driven the seemingly innocuous teaching of a language/culture will become once put into practice, given the players associated with this project.
Because of Mayor Bloomberg's heavy-handed presence in this matter [assigning Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott the job of enforcer] and with DOE's attempts to steamroll Boerum Hill's parents into submission, the public has become rightly skeptical over statements coming out of "official" sources.
There is a lockdown mentality that defines the DOE's attitude at this point with spokesperson Meyers having failed to answer numerous telephone and email requests for clarifications regarding Khalil Gibran from these writers.
New York's DOE has even taken the unprecedented step of gagging its own administrators, instructing them to make no public comments on KGIA. The parent of a seventh grader at the Boerum Hill School stated:
"No one wants the Gibran Academy here, and yet the Department of Education seems intent on shoving it down our throats regardless of community reaction. Just today, the DOE made it clear that they considered the issue non-negotiable. I have also learned from [name deleted] that the Department of Education has put a gag order on our school administrators, who have been instructed not to talk with the press." [source http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/20/30_20schoolletters.html]
To assert that the issue of teaching Arabic is not germane to this matter, please consider that this subject is of such high importance that KGIA's school day will be extended, with Arabic being taught for two hours a day, between 3 and 5 PM, making it by far the most intensive aspect of Khalil Gibran's curriculum.
As Almontaser states:
"we're very serious about them developing this language."
She goes on to claim that, "Arabic is one of the most sought-after languages in the entire world."
True enough, the FBI, CIA and other guardians of national security are constantly looking for Arabic language speakers.
Are we to assume that KGIA's curriculum was devised to provide Arab language skills to future interrogators at Guantanamo, undercover agents prowling suspect mosques or NSA employees parsing al-Qaeda transmissions?
Given Almontaser's antipathy towards the war on terror and the Iraq conflict, for her to suggest that KGIA is justifiable in light of an email that she claims to have received from an American soldier in Iraq stating that there were not enough Arabic speakers in the service - "[That only] two percent of soldiers sent there [speak Arabic] says a thousand words of how important this school is" - is cravenly deceptive, indicative of how far Almontaser will bend reality to accomplish her goal.
Looking at the level of discussion surrounding the question of this school, especially that coming out of DOE, the Mayor's office and the teacher's unions, the defects of the multicultural/diversity at any price mindset become apparent.
This philosophy hamstrings intellectual exchange in such matters because it considers asking questions as to cultural predilections and relevant historical fact outside the bounds of propriety, viewing them as inherently racist.
This is the reason why discussions within Boerum Hill's PTA have been circumscribed within the ridiculous confines of space utilization instead of broaching the verboten subtext, which is the link between Islamic fundamentalism, Arab history and terrorism.
In New York, the city that suffered the brunt of the September 11 attacks, it's now the official party line that the obvious must be ignored.
Fact Dhabah Almontaser denies that Arabs and Muslims were involved in 9/11.
Fact Dhabah Almontaser has decried the use of Arab informants whose efforts have prevented terrorist attacks.
Fact a long list of people and organizations which are pushing KGIA harbor similar sentiments.
It's plainly wrong to equate public schools which feature Korean, Haitian Creole or Mandarin language instruction with one teaching Arabic and espousing Arabic cultural supremacy, such as the proposition that the mathematical discipline of algebra originated within the Arab world.
Furthermore it's foolish to ignore the fact that Arabic is the language of the Quran, and that fluency in Arabic is looked upon by those who engage in da'wa as a prerequisite to greater understanding of Islam and as such is highly supported by Islamists worldwide.
Finally there is the realization that there are as Almontaser states, "millions of dollars in federal funding that are available to education systems to teach Arabic."
At this late stage the first rule of political behavior - "follow the money" - becomes operative.
New York's educational system is crumbling under the weight of fuzzy, diversity based education, test scores indicate little progress in bridging the gap shown between domestic students and those outside the United States.
This should not come as a surprise.
Randi Weingarten - a new and powerful supporter of KGIA - the president of the New York City teacher's union, was recently in the words of the New York Times, "left flummoxed by a question about fractions on a radio show."
Weingarten was confronted by the pop-quiz while appearing on a WNYC radio talk show during which host, Mike Pesca asked her, "What is 1/3 plus 1/4?" The teacher's union president was unable to answer the question and stated that she would have to write the problem [sixth grade level] down on paper before she could answer it. Another guest on the program quickly and correctly provided the answer, 7/12ths.
Perhaps no shame should accrue to this lapse since most of Weingarten's charges - New York City's school children - display the same level of ignorance.
During testimony given at the City Council Education Committee Meeting, November 5th, 2003, by professor Stanley Ocken, Dept. Mathematics, City College of City University of New York he stated:
"New York City K-12 mathematics education is in chaos…New York City high schools are graduating an appallingly large percentage of students who cannot correctly perform the most basic operations with fractions, decimals, and percents."
So are we to assume that now that Almontaser's political philosophy is laid bare and that parents are speaking out over having KGIA thrust "down their throats" that the question must resolve instead on the potential influx of millions from the federal government?
Of what benefit to the general public school population will showering a madrassah with federal largesse? Will these funds make students of KGIA "more equal" than their peers?
An item in the New York Times' May 15 coverage of the Khalil Gibran controversy has provoked little comment, "But if it does open...the Khalil Gibran school may struggle to fill its available seats. As of yesterday, no students were enrolled. And with only weeks left before classes are dismissed for the summer, most fifth graders already knew which school they would attend in the fall."
Can this be?
Apparently so, since despite a massive effort by New York's Dept of Education - which sent letters to the parents of the city's fifth graders soliciting their participation in Khalil Gibran's scheduled September sixth grade opening - there have been no takers so far and the current school year will end in a matter of days.
What New York City's parents are faced with here, outside of the already voluminously annotated structural/conceptual/security issues associated with the proposed KGIA is that this may very well be the case of a demand without a genuine mandate.
The forces which have coagulated around this issue are a Whitman's Sampler of the type of players who are hastening the West's ethical crisis:
1. Islamists of the ilk of Dhabah Almontaser and the AAFSC.
2. Checkbook multiculturalists - pimps who promote their philosophy via other people's money.
3. Leftist/progressives who have found common cause with the Islamists.
4. Members of the educational elite and the leaders of the teacher's unions.
5. Mayor Bloomberg and similarly motivated politicians.
6. Post modernist, clerics and members of their congregations who no longer believe in anything outside of a vague sense moral relativism.
It is these groups and their adherents that are telling Boerum Hill's parents to ignore the obvious; that a school steeped in Arabic culture and run by fundies will inevitably become a madrassah because of the inseparable relationship between Islam, Arab culture and the language in which the Quran is written.
Multiculturalism is the DOE's hole card because it's a way of putting off limits the discussion of the most important aspect of this controversy, to do otherwise is to face accusations of bigotry, racism and Islamophobia.
It is the DOE's intent to render mute those who oppose this project.
Dhabah Almontaser and her allies have created a cottage industry out of the wreckage of 9/11, pushing the myth that the events of that day had nothing to do with Islam and Arab culture and that Muslims are the party most aggrieved by those terrorist attacks.
On its face this is a preposterous assertion, but an examination of Almontaser's motivation is now officially verboten.
If this is the kind of world you wish to bring your children up in, then by all means support KGIA.
If on the other hand you feel you can tolerate being seen by some as a bigot you simply can't ignore what is going on here, your eyes are not lying.
The post modernists are clever adversaries; they attack both the foundation of this society as well as its ability to defend itself.
Philosophy and motivation aside, there are other important aspects of KGIA that have yet to be dealt with, they center on procedures that will be established if the school becomes a reality.
1. How will the prayer "requirements" of KGIA's Muslim students be accommodated? Will there be praying at KGIA?
2. Will Halal food be served in the cafeteria?
3. What will be the reaction to someone eating a pork or ham sandwich, if they are in close proximity to one of KGIA's students?
4. Will KGIA's students be part of the general school population or sequestered and separate?
5. Regardless of whether prayer will be permitted formally at KGIA or informally, how will wudu, or the process of ritual washing - which must precede prayer - take place? Will this be done in the public lavatories?
6. Will there need to be concessions made in other Boerum Hill's programs such as sports, to accommodate the "modesty" requirements of this influx of Muslim students?
7. What will be the legal response by groups such as the Council on Islamic Relations [CAIR] to the normal kind of taunting behavior that school kids often engage in? For example, what will happen if someone says "Osama" within earshot of a KGIA student?
8. Are the parents of Boerum Hill School prepared to defend the institution against such lawsuits and deal with the resultant bad publicity?
Some examples of the kind of trouble these activist organizations will constantly foment:
1. On 11 April, 2007 responding to a dare, a Lewiston Middle School [Maine] student placed ham on a cafeteria table where Muslim Somali students were eating. Muslims consider pork to be unclean and the "offending student" was suspended from school. A report was filed by the school's resource officer Bill Brochu which "was sent to the Attorney General's Office for review for possible prosecution...because the ham incident was perceived as a hate/bias crime."
2. During April of 2004 a 12-year-old Muslim girl said four boys accosted her in the hallways of Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach, Fla., calling her "Osama." Though it is doubtful that the incident ever happened - the girl is unable to identify her "assailants" - the incident was referred to law enforcement nonetheless for potential prosecution as a "hate" crime. The Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR, the Saudi funded Hamas front group] alerted the media, insisting that the students needed to undergo "sensitivity" training, aka da'wa.
If Khalil Gibran is eventually established, not only will it quickly become a madrassah, it will loom as a constant source of controversy, legal action and turmoil. The initial concession to the Islamists - an act of dhimmitude - who are behind this project will serve to embolden them. KGIA will then be used as a point around which to organize even more blatant incursions of Sharia into the mainstream society.
KGIA has everything to do with Sharia and indoctrination. It's not about education.
This institution will serve as a fortified fundamentalist outpost buoyed by federal and philanthropic funding such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Given its Arabist organizing principles and externally generated funding sources KGIA will as time goes by be less and less under the control of the New York Department of Education, eventually drifting into a state a semi-autonomy.
Establishing KGIA would set a dangerous precedent, it stands in opposition to the most basic principles of public education. It will constitute a divisive force that must not be allowed to go forward.