Students Having To Learn 5 Pillars Of Islam And Required To Make Personal Prayer Rugs

Some parents who are upset about a controversial history textbook being used in many classrooms spoke out at the Seminole County, Florida school board meeting Tuesday night.

Two weeks ago, WFTV talked to parent Ron Wagner, who said his son was learning the specifics of Islam in a textbook at Lyman High School.

Since then, investigative reporter Daralene Jones found out the Seminole County school district has been bombarded with calls and emails.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, members and district leaders publicly addressed the issue for the first time.

To completely separate religion from world history would be inappropriate,” said Dr. Michael Blasewitz, executive director of high schools in Seminole County.

In the textbook, there are details about the Five Pillars of Islam, quotes from the Quran and students in one history class were required to make prayer rugs as part of the lesson.

“For the record, I don’t agree that we should be making prayer rugs for world history class,” school board member Jeffrey Bauer said.

“For the record, Mr. Bauer, your wish is being granted,” Blasewitz replied.

Some parents believe the textbook teaches more religion than history. Scott Meadows said he first complained to the district in October about the world history book.

“They should review it, look over it and ask themselves is this what they want our kids learning?” Meadows said.

It was Wagner’s complaint, however, that prompted a district investigation. He’s concerned the chapter on Islam is too extensive, and he doesn’t believe a public school is the place to focus on religious teachings.

Another parent, who is from Egypt and attended the meeting on Tuesday, told Eyewitness News she doesn’t believe the textbook is accurate.

“That textbook that is handed to our children is completely messed up,” she said.

The backlash has forced the district to create a fact sheet about the book, why it’s used and how it comes from a list of books approved by the state.

“I still think it doesn’t belong there,” said Wagner. “It doesn’t. And hopefully with enough participation and interest by other parents, maybe things will change.”

The textbook is used at many high schools in Seminole County. Each school principal has been asked to address its use with world history teachers to make sure nothing is misinterpreted.

A district investigation into the Lyman High School lesson found it was on target with the state benchmarks and mandates.

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