Middle East studies in the News
Anti-Semitic 9/11 Article By K-12 Education Giant Sparks Outrage
Newsela is a relatively recently-established educational resource that purportedly specializes in non-fiction content for the nation's K-12 schools, teachers, and students. It sprung up as a private partner of Common Core, and the service reaches at least 75% of America's K-12 classrooms.
Newsela recently came under fire for its 9/11 instructional material. Newsela's 9/11 "Fact Sheet" included reference to Israel's "long and shady history" and to Israel as belonging, originally, to Muslims. A historical impossibility. Nonetheless, this drivel was published far and wide, and America's 5th and 6th grade students across the nation were spoon-fed it.
Newsela has, under pressure from parents and alarmed educators, retracted and corrected the materials, but not before the damage was done.
An educational non-fiction content provider has issued an apology for offering teachers across the country a fact sheet on the September 11 attacks that included commentary about Israel having a "shady history" and having previously "belonged to the Muslims."
Newsela prides itself in being a reliable source of current event pieces and historical articles, each edited by Newsela staff to meet multiple reading skill levels, for teachers to use in their elementary and middle school classrooms. On 9/11, fifth and sixth grade teachers found available an article, adapted by Newsela staff from a History.com piece, outlining the day's attacks and an overview of Osama Bin Laden's alleged reasons for attacking the United States.
One level of the sixth-grade article read, "They were angry that the U.S. gave money to the country of Israel, an area with a long and shady history in the Middle East."
"[Bin Laden] thought the United States was too involved in the Middle East. ... The United States also gave money to Israel. It is a Jewish country in the Middle East. Many Muslims live there. Before Israel was Jewish, the land belonged to Muslims. Bin Laden believed that Jews should leave the land," read a version of the fifth-grade article.
IsraellyCool published the following image of the text before it was corrected.
One teacher reportedly stated that she could not use the materials because they were "inappropriately written," but teachers from California to Kansas did use them in their classrooms.
The Washington Free Beacon continues:
The fifth-grade piece was used in one class at California's Louis E. Stocklmeir Elementary School, according to parents, and the articles were assigned to both fifth and sixth graders at Highlands Elementary School in Kansas, according to a tweet from the school.
A D.C.-based sixth-grade educator wrote on Facebook to Newsela that she could not use the "inappropriately written" material.
Newsela's commentary on Israel was markedly different from the original History.com article, which stated that the terrorists "were allegedly acting in retaliation for America's support of Israel, its involvement in the Persian Gulf War, and its continued military presence in the Middle East."
Following complaints, Newsela said it edited the material. A copy of the updated fifth-grade version seen by the Washington Free Beacon shows a swap of the line "Before Israel was Jewish, the land belonged to Muslims" for "The land has been fought over for centuries."
WUSA9 verified the publication and wide distribution of these materials and published the statement released by a Newsela spokesperson.
"We are dedicated to keeping bias and misinformation out of our content. As a result of this incident we are implementing new review procedures to ensure we have more checks in place for bias for controversial topics.
We apologize for this oversight and as a company our intention is to remain as objective as possible. We're particularly grateful for educators who help us improve by speaking up and holding us accountable. Our goal is always to help children learn to read, become critical thinkers and help foster empathy across the board."
Newslea said they took these following steps to correct the situation once they learned about the language used in the article:
· We amended the article as quickly as possible.
· We posted banners, alerting teachers who may have assigned the article prior to the correction that a mistake had been made.
· Our managing editor emailed individuals who contacted us about the article with an apology and offered to discuss further.
While Newsela is not well-known unless one is involved in some way in K-12 education, it came to the attention of PJ Media last year. Writing about Newsela, PJMedia asked, "Are Your Kids Getting a Daily Dose of News Propaganda with Their Common Core?" The answer is a resounding "yes."
Many public schools are now assigning their students children's versions of newspaper articles through a new company called Newsela. Newsela takes articles from outlets such as Washington Post and Associated Press, rewrites each one to fit five reading levels, and publishes them online.
The "ELA" part of Newsela's name evokes the "English Language Arts" component of the Common Core State Standards, which has established national teaching norms for K-12 schools. One of the core characteristics of the Common Core is its emphasis on "informational texts" – its term for nonfiction. Thus, textbooks take primacy over literature in the English Language Arts world of Common Core.
News is the informational text par excellence. The creators of Newsela found an opportunity to profit from the Common Core standards by adapting news to the classroom and selling it to schools as "Common Core-aligned." It offers grade-appropriate versions of newspaper articles as reading exercises, coupled with four-question quizzes to test students' comprehension.
. . . . when Newsela chooses articles with an ideological flavor, that flavor is distinctly progressive. It abounds with articles that sound the alarm on global warming, pollution, or animal extinction ("The role of climate change in the Louisiana floods"); praise President Obama ("President Obama is protecting more water off the coast of Hawaii"); or focus on racial and ethnic grievance ("Indian tribe sues over river damage").
A quick glance at Newsela's Twitter feed reinforces this impression that Newsela peddles progressive propaganda rooted in identity politics and assorted divisive progressive priorities:
This Newsela 9/11 incident is yet another in a long series of such incidents that reveal our nation's youth are being targeted for anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda long before they ever see a college campus.
As we have covered in recent years, anti-Israeli sentiment being pushed on impressionable grade schoolers is a particular problem.
With its reach into 75% of the nation's K-12 classrooms, the pervasiveness of Newsela is alarming.
Whether we have children or grandchildren of school age or not, this trend matters because these "lessons" are intended to grow the sort of SJWs who are terrorizing our nation's college campuses . . . as both students and as "professors." They are, in other words, future leaders in education, government, public policy, business, law enforcement, and on. What they are learning now matters immensely.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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