Islam textbook controversy continues

By Marsha Sutton

Senior Education Reporter

As the San Dieguito Union High School District responds to complaints concerning religious freedom from the Western Center for Law & Policy, the challenge to the seventh-grade social studies textbook and its discussion of Islam in Chapters 3 and 4 continues to churn.

The authors of a document citing 22 instances where they say Islam is misrepresented appeared on a recent radio talk show and said the school district asked them last year to prepare a supplemental curriculum for use in the classroom.

Michael Hayutin and Linda Sax said on air that, based on the district’s request, they developed the material, which presents a harsher portrayal of Islam than the textbook does. But the district then refused to use the supplement.

At the May 19 school board meeting, Noah denied asking Hayutin to prepare anything, saying, “That’s just patently false.”

Noah said the textbook challenge is working its way through appropriate channels at the state level, but a public meeting held June 5 by Hayutin about the issue concerned him.

“This has all the earmarks of a highly politicized issue, and I’m going to have to take this on,” he said. “I’m not willing to put the children of this district in the line of fire.”

Noah said he considers the matter very serious. “Hopefully, we can resolve this in a civil fashion,” he said.

Western Center for Law & Policy president Dean Broyles said he is aware of the controversy and did a preliminary analysis of the seventh-grade history textbook. He said Hayutin’s objections have some merit, not only on the issue of Islam but also on how Christianity is portrayed.

“I am concerned about inaccuracies and distortions that seem to pervade the seventh-grade curriculum,” he said. “There seems to be selective focus and selective reporting from a certain perspective that is not necessarily objectively accurate.”

On June 4, the San Diego Muslim Community released a rebuttal to the 22-point Hayutin document which can be accessed at: http://

textbookresponse.wordpress.com

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