(Del Mar Times) — Three North County residents contend a textbook used to teach seventh-graders about the Islamic religion in the San Dieguito Union High School District “romanticizes” the history of the religion, and they want the district to use supplemental information to provide what they say would be a more balanced view.
Michael Hayutin and Linda Sax, both of Carmel Valley, and James Freedman of Rancho Peñasquitos presented their findings in a 21-page report to the school district’s board of trustees at a meeting last Thursday, Feb. 3. They have also met with school administrators and teachers, including Rick Schmitt, associate superintendent of educational services.
Hayutin, whose daughter is a senior at Torrey Pines High School and son is a college student who also attended district schools, said he, Sax and Freedman take issue with two chapters about Islam in a textbook called “World History: Medieval to Early Modern Times.” The chapters are used for a two-week unit of study about Islam.
In a summary heading the report, the trio wrote: “The text romanticizes Islamic history with respect to religion, government, conquest and culture. The positive aspects or achievements attributable to Islam are exaggerated and the negative downplayed or ignored. The errors are of both inclusion and omission. Critical facts that demonstrate the less admirable religious and cultural episodes and practices in Islamic history are absent or understated.”
“If we teach them a glossed over, pretty version of history that isn’t accurate, they won’t be able to evaluate what’s going on today,” Hayutin said after the meeting.
As examples, the report cites references to the Prophet Mohammed, slavery, the spread of Islam, polygamy and other subjects contained in the two textbook chapters.
Under the heading “The ‘Spread of Islam,’” the report cites numerous places in the text where the phrases “Islam spread” or “spread Islam” are used. “More accurate words to describe what occurred might include ‘conquer,’ ‘defeat,’ ‘invade,’ ‘capture,’ or ‘destroy,’” said the report.