Middle East studies in the News
N.Y. Promoted, Covered Up Lesson Plan Teaching Students to Sympathize With Islamic Suicide Bombers
by Justin Haskins
On April 12, The Blaze reported the Public Broadcasting Service has been for more than decade featuring a lesson plan that instructs students to be more sympathetic to the plight of Islamic terrorists in Palestine. The plan, titled "Dying to be a Martyr," features, among other things, video interviews with Islamic terrorists who tell viewers why their attacks on Israelis are justified. There are no instructions in the lesson plan for teachers to denounce these views and no videos are featured showing the Israeli response.
Among the other biased aspects of the lesson plan are instructions for teachers to "Check for understanding by asking students to respond to the focus question. (Mohanned, feels he would rather die and by a martyr than live his life, sees his life as hollow—in contrast he sees Israelis as happy, going out, having fun, traveling.) Ask your students why Mohanned may feel that way (Answers may include: Palestinians have less land, fewer privileges, cannot come and go as they please.)"
A new investigation into the lesson plan and its origins show the plan was developed in New York state and was, until just a couple of weeks ago, promoted by the New York State Education Department. Following a request for comment from state officials, NYSED abruptly altered its website without a comment, essentially covering up the fact the website ever contained the "Dying to be a Martyr" material.
On a taxpayer-funded NYSED website for public school history and geography teachers, NYSED lists numerous videos and books in a section titled "Resources for Teachers." Among those items listed is a video titled "Story of Islam: A History of the World's Most Misunderstood Faith." The "Dying to be a Martyr" lesson plan was also listed, and it appears it was the only full lesson plan listed in that section, which contains 40 items.
The lesson plan is also featured by Thirteen.org, a website belonging to the WNET-TV network, the PBS affiliate for New York City and the areas immediately surrounding the city. It appears the New York PBS affiliate is the producer of the lesson plan. The author of the plan is a long-time public school teacher in upstate New York.
An investigation by The Blaze reveals the teacher who authored "Dying to be a Martyr" is still teaching at Ballston Spa High School, a public school in Ballston Spa, New York, located in Saratoga County. At Ballston Spa, the teacher leads courses covering world history for 9th and 10th graders. A review of classroom notes posted to the teacher's website shows she covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in great deal in her course. Among the many questions students are asked to answer are "What is Hammas' view ?" and "How were Palestinian refugees treated?"
The Blaze sent multiple e-mails requesting comments from the teacher who authored "Dying to be a Martyr" and to Ballston Spa High School's vice principal and principal, Kristi Jensen. The Blaze also sent e-mails to the New York State Department of Education for comment. Among the questions asked was whether "Dying to be a Martyr" or similar views are being taught in New York public schools.
None of the parties agreed to provide on-the-record comments.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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