Saturday, September 13, 2008

Minnesota Charter Schools Train Pupils for the Future--(the Islamic Future)

Minnesota’s Islamic charter school, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA), is still asserting its independence from control by the state department of education, according to Katherine Kersten at the Minnesota Star Tribune. We've posted Kersten's reports about this Islamic academy situation before. (“Establishing Islam in Minnesota”; “Even ACLU-MN Sees the Problem in Minneapolis”). Now Kersten writes that discussions with the Minnesota Dept. of Ed to bring TiZA into compliance with legal prohibitons against publicly-funded charter schools endorsing religion have run into resistance:

TiZA officials have "taken a confrontational road" in discussions with the department, according to Deputy MDE Commissioner Chas Anderson, the department's No. 2 official.

Anderson says that the two sides have not yet reached an agreement on one key issue and that MDE will be closely monitoring TiZA's performance in future months.

TiZA is a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights, financed by taxpayers. Its students have scored well on standardized tests. But like all public schools, it may not encourage or endorse religion, or favor one religion over another.

A number of facts raise questions about TiZA on this score. Its executive director, Asad Zaman, is an imam, or Muslim religious leader. The school shares a building with a mosque and the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society, which the Chicago Tribune has described as the American branch of the Muslim Brotherhood -- "the world's most influential Islamic fundamentalist group."

Most of TiZA's students are Muslim, many from low-income immigrant families. The school breaks daily for prayer, its cafeteria serves halal food (permissible under Islamic law), and Arabic is a required subject.

School buses do not leave until after-school Muslim Studies classes, which many students attend, have ended for the day.

Read about it here: Storm brewing between state officials and TiZA school .

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