TCPJ Action Alert – Tell Metro Schools Arabic Classes Not Needed

Metro Nashville public schools recently announced that beginning in the next school year, they will offer Arabic language classes in the six South Nashville schools, grades 7 -12. These are schools that have the highest number of non-English speaking students.

“The six schools were chosen based on an audit of students’ home languages. Each of the schools has students that speak Arabic as their primary language, and beginning Arabic and heritage Arabic classes will be taught for the varying abilities of students.”

So, try and figure out the logic: teach Arabic to kids who already speak Arabic as their first language but who are receiving publicly funded English Language Learner services in school.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to provide them with more English instruction?

Chief Academic Office Jay Steele said the classes will “build off the skills students in the district already have” and that teaching Arabic heritage will help the students stay connected to their native culture. How far is Metro schools willing to go? Can Metro school parents expect the school district to have students try out wearing Islamic religious garments as a way to “experience” the culture? Make more visits to the mosques?

Several years ago, students visited a Nashville mosque where they were provided bottles of water and free Korans without parent knowledge or permission.

Please contact the following Metro School officials and school board members and question the legitimacy of this decision:

  • is it the school district’s responsibility to “keep children connected to their native culture?”
  • will classes be permitted to use the Koran as a way to teach Arabic?
  • will students be taught the Shahada as a way to practice their Arabic and just by coincidence, be able to convert?
  • how will this be monitored? Public schools in Maryland that have permitted Islamic prayer time in schools have enabled non-Muslim students to convert without parental knowledge
  • does it make sense to teach more Arabic to students coming from homes where Arabic is spoken as opposed to working to make them proficient in English?

jay.Steele@mnps.org (he is rumored to be up for consideration as next director of schools)

School Board members:

Sharon Gentry – gentryfordistrict1@comcast.net (Chair)

Jo Ann Brannon – joann.brannon@mnps.org

Jill Speering – jill.speering@mnps.org

Anna Shepherd – jill.speering@mnps.org

Elissa Kim – elissa.kim@mnps.org (Vice-chair)

Tyese Hunter –  tyese.hunter@mnps.org

Will Pinkston – will@pinkstonforschools.com

Mary Pierce – mary@pierceforschools.org

Amy Frogge – amy.frogge@mnps.org

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