ACLU sues ‘Muslim’ charter school

Calling it a “pervasively Muslim school,” the ACLU has filed suit against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a public charter school in Minnesota that shares space with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.

TiZA, founded in 2003, teaches 430 K-8 students. Although most students come  from low-income immigrant families — many are African — test scores are higher than the state average.

The lawsuit contends TiZA endorses Muslim religious practices by:

# Permitting prayer sessions during school hours and having teacher-sanctioned religious material posted on classroom bulletin boards.

# Allowing students and teachers to gather for 30 minutes of communal prayer every Friday.

# Giving preference to Muslim clothing rules. Girls, but not boys, are prohibited from wearing short sleeves. Girls also must wear skirts or pants of a certain length, depending on their grade level. Female teachers must be covered from neck to wrist and ankle.

A state investigation called for running buses for students who don’t wish to stay for the after-school religion classes and holding the Friday prayer service after school. School officials say they’ve complied.

Joe Nathan, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for School Change, puts TiZA “in the top 5 percent of schools he has reviewed in terms of academic excellence and commitment to tolerance.” As a Jew, Nathan says, he’s strongly committed to the separation of church (or mosque) and state.

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Comments

  1. Cardinal Fang says:

    Those who disapprove of the state running a religious school– I am one of them– should equally disapprove of the state paying for a religious school using tuition vouchers.

  2. GI Bill?

  3. speedwell says:

    Your Eminence, I think that’s an admirably consistent position and I absolutely agree with you. Let’s apply it to all religions equally, shall we, whether Muslim, Christian, Scientology, or Anthrosophical?

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    Good point, allen. Or Pell grants. I can’t figure out why I have this notion that the government subsidizing a student at a religiously-supported college is different than the government sending a six-year-old to a Christian school. Maybe there is no relevant difference.

  5. In the case of the GI Bill, the student (legally adult) makes the choice. In the cases of Pell Grants and vouchers, the parents (certainly with student input re Pell Grants), make the choice. I feel that is very different from the government running religious schools; charters or otherwise. Of course, in my ideal world, the local per-pupil funding would follow each child to the school(s) of the parents’ choice, whether public or private and a significant amount could be used to cover homeschooling expenses (instructional materials, online or local classes, tutors etc).

  6. > I can’t figure out why I have this notion that the government subsidizing a student at a religiously-supported college is different than the government sending a six-year-old to a Christian school. Maybe there is no relevant difference.

    Possibly discarding the straw man argument would help since in neither case is it a “six-year-old” whose making the relevant decision.

    The legal test is, I believe, whether attendance at a particular school is voluntary.

    Since it’s tax money though I don’t have an objection to a couple of strings like no religious instruction or observance, all instruction and books in English, transition to English to be handled as a priority for ESL students.

  7. I would be happy to see vouchers made available for non-religious private schools. We could debate what to do about parochial schools later.

    I have no problem with vouchers for religious schools, so long as they’re real schools. But it’s moot if there are no vouchers at all.

  8. Charles R. Williams says:

    The only problem with this is that funding is not extended to Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical and Jewish schools on the same basis.

    It is not surprising to me that immigrant parents would want to shelter their children from the cultural environment that prevails in American public schools – especially, low-income immigrants.