Honestly, I do not sift through the news each day looking for stories that will outrage me. Nevertheless, as I do my morning reading, they just jump right out at me and tend to spoil the rest of my day. Often, all I can do is shake my head at the utter and complete stupidity of some people. Like some of the parents of children in the Mansfield school district in Texas.
The Mansfield Independent School District had been offering classes in Arabic in a program funded by a federal Foreign Language Assistance Program grant. The classes covered not just the language but Arabic culture as well. This would seem to be a good use of the Foreign Language Assistance Program funds since federal agencies, including the military services, always have a shortage of Arabic speakers.
But then some 200 parents showed up at a meeting about the new curriculum and some of them were irate at the idea that their children might actually learn something about Islam. Apparently, they were terrified that this great and powerful religion would somehow seduce their kids into forsaking Jesus and following Mohammed. The school district caved to parental fears and put the language classes on hold for now. They say that they do not have "mandatory Arabic classes" but that some Arabic classes will be offered as electives while the district "gets more parental input."
I can just guess what that "parental input" might sound like.
How did we as a people ever become so unsure of ourselves and our culture that we are scared to death to even listen to a discussion of another culture or learn its language for fear we might be tainted or turned away from the "true path"? Do we really have so little confidence in our own influence over our children that we fear that exposure to new or different ideas will cause them to forsake us and everything we have taught them?
This is just a sad, sad story on many levels, but I really believe it is an indicator of why our school systems are failing our children. Parents simply will not stand for anything to be taught those children that might open their minds to ideas that the parents find abhorrent or wrong. Whether it is in the field of earth sciences, biology, social science, or even languages, if it is contrary to any of our beliefs and value systems, then it must be quashed. Our children must not hear of it.
And so our educational system stultifies and our children are unprepared to be citizens of the world, and our society slowly becomes an idiocracy.