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Posted on Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

Ann Arbor schools' Arab-American Parent Support Group to make its public debut Sunday

By Danielle Arndt


Students at the Michigan Islamic Academy gather for an assembly in 2010 in this file photo. A new Arab-American Parent Support Group in the Ann Arbor Public Schools hopes to improve experiences for Arab and Muslim students in the district so that more Arab families view AAPS as a viable option for their kids.

Editor's note: This story has been changed to clarify the group’s goal as it pertains to the elementary music programs.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools parent committees have started up again for the 2012-13 school year, and making its public debut Sunday is the district’s newest ethnicity-based group.

The AAPS Arab-American Parent Support Group (A2A2PSG) has quietly been piloting change for about a year now. But on Sunday, it will conduct its first community event to share the group’s first-year accomplishments and to gather additional concerns and ideas from students and parents that will guide the group’s work in the future.

The A2A2PSG is only the second committee in the district to form around the concept of aiding under-represented students and families of a particular ethnic group in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Event Details

First meeting of the AAPS Arab-American Parent Support Group

  • Time: 1:30 to 3 p.m.
  • Date: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012
  • Place: 3rd Floor Meeting Room, Downtown Ann Arbor Public Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.

The District-Wide Black Parent and Student Support Group (DWBPSSG) was established nearly 30 years ago, school leaders said.

But members of the A2A2PSG said aside from helping students of Arab and Muslim descent succeed and serving as a liaison between the district and Arab families, they hope to raise awareness of Arabic culture at AAPS and foster an environment of greater respect and cultural appreciation in the community as a whole.

“We want our kids to grow up and be proud of their identity and to see our kids be included in the curriculum. We want to make sure that when our kids go through school, that they can see people like themselves in their textbooks and lesson plans and be able to find connections,” said Reema Jarjoura, a parent and teacher at King Elementary School.

The Arab-American Parent Support Group currently consists of about 10 active families and each of those families have about 10 others in their network, said Tahani Othman, who also is a parent and teacher in the district.

The group began when Othman was approached by school board Trustee Glenn Nelson, whom she had met casually a few times at various school functions.

“He came to me and said the board had been talking about wanting to hear more from Arab-American families in the district, to hear what their experiences have been like in our school system,” Othman said.

She solicited as many teachers, students, friends and neighbors as she could and the group conducted is first meeting in April 2011. It became an official school board-sanctioned group just before the start of the 2011-12 academic year.

“It seemed like it was a situation of being at the right place at the right time,” Othman said. “Because people had issues they wanted to address and they were raising them with administration, but not talking about them together.”

One of the first issues the group set out to tackle was getting Islam included in the sixth-grade religion curriculum. Othman said the sixth-grade unit covers all of the major religions except Islam because the context for the unit is ancient civilization and Islam came about later.

The textbook the sixth-graders were using did not have any lessons dedicated to Islam either, so Othman and other parents and teachers in the A2A2PSG worked together with the district to create a one-week unit on the religion of Islam. The unit will be taught to sixth-graders district-wide this year.

The A2A2PSG also accomplished changing the district’s enrollment form so that students may check “Arab or Arab American” instead of “Middle Eastern.”

Jarjoura explained “Middle Eastern” is no longer considered politically correct and technically refers to a region rather than a group of people. Othman said Egypt is an Arabic country but is not located in the Middle East, and Afghanistan and Turkey are in the Middle East but are not Arabic countries.

However, more importantly, the term Middle Eastern was confusing for children, and not seeing an appropriate identifier was causing some students and families to select “African,” “Caucasian” and “other.”

Jarjoura said teachers started noticing this when looking at and analyzing data as the district has strived to become more data driven in recent years.

“We were like there’s more than two Middle Eastern kids at the school. … Then we started thinking about it and talking about it and realized what the problem was,” she said.

There are other tasks the A2A2PSG would like to look at in the coming year, such as pushing for Arabic as a foreign language at the high schools and trying to expand the elementary music programs to be more inclusive of all cultures, including Arab-American, and not just a select few.

Othman also has lead teachers district-wide through professional development on interacting with Arab and Muslim families. She said the PD started off as two optional after-school sessions last year and this year the trainings doubled due to increased interest.

It also has started to delve deeper from providing just general information on who is an Arab, who is a Muslim and what are the cultural traits that will impact Arab students learning, as well as "how do I best communicate with Arab families."

Othman said personal connection is big in Arabic culture. Most Arab-American families will not respond well to an email or a note sent home, she said.

“They also have a harder time than people in other cultures understanding the significance of a learning disability and getting Arab-American parents to accept it and be supportive of their child, rather than thinking something is not right with that child,” she said.

Some Arab Americans won’t shake hands, won’t look someone in the eye during certain conversations or don’t want dogs near them, Othman said.

‘’Understanding why and how it relates to the culture is important. It’s all about culturally relevant teaching,” she said.

Othman and Jarjoura said improving the Ann Arbor Public Schools for Arab and Muslim families ultimately will benefit all students and the district as a whole. Othman also hopes that more Arab-American families will start to consider AAPS an option for their children.

She said a number of private and charter schools with an Arabic emphasis have popped up in the Ann Arbor area recently, such as Central Academy, Precious Sprouts, the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Islamic Academy. She believes in public education and would like to see more Arab families come to AAPS.

“All-in-all, the world is shrinking,” Othman said. “And we’re not doing our non-Arab students any sort of service either in shielding them from certain cultures.

“It’s natural to expect that some people are not going to think this (group) is a positive thing,” she said. “But this helps all kids when we get the correct information out there and educate our teachers and improve cross-cultural relations.”

Bryan Johnson, chairman of the Ann Arbor Black Parent and Student Support Group, praised the Arab-American parents, teachers and students for organizing and attempting to reach out to more of the community. He said he will be “rooting for them” and would be willing to partner and provide support when applicable.

He had just one piece of advice and that was to make sure the group has and sticks to a specific focus.

“Know what you want to get involved in and what you don’t,” he said. “The biggest thing is you want to be able to listen to parents and their concerns, but you also want to make sure your organization is not an ambulance chaser. … We’ll get people who think they’ve been discriminated against or staffing issues where the parents will think a teacher’s been treated unfairly. If you run after everything, it’s difficult to get things accomplished.”

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

These types of articles and the subsequent comments that inevitably follow keep me pretty sure that we have a long way to go as a country. It also convinces me that Darwin was right.

Danielle Arndt

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Just a point of clarification: the A2A2PSG does not receive any money from the school district. Neither does the Black Student and Parent Support Group. Saying these organizations are sanctioned by the school board simply means they have been recognized as official groups of the district. In other words, they have been given approval by the board to form and to affiliate themselves with the AAPS (hence having AAPS in their names). As far as receiving funding from the education foundation, this has not happened to my knowledge. My understanding is there would be nothing stopping the A2A2PSG from submitting a grant application like other educational organizations in the area; however, the AAPSEF board would have to decide whether what the A2A2PSG was requesting money for adequately helps "all AAPS students achieve their highest potential," as the AAPSEF's mission states.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

Do these groups pay the same rental fee to have meetings in AAPS buildings that other groups have to pay? If not, they are being subsidized--just not in the form of cash.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

Sorry, people - it is already too late. Guess what I just found out? That they are already using Arabic numerals at all grade levels. Oh, the humanity!

Rork Kuick

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Thin edge my eye, they have hoisted the arithmetic on us and even kept the notorious works of Archimedes alive (*gasp*), and now may want some non-German music.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

LOL, Brad.

Ivor Ivorsen

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

I know, right? Look how they sneaked in that "algebra" stuff into Western culture all those centuries ago--just the thin edge of the wedge.

Superior Twp voter

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

"We want to make sure that when our kids go through school, that they can see people like themselves in their textbooks and lesson plans" Wrong country, Reema.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Over 50% of the babies born in the United States is no longer considered "White" It's time to stop thinking like an old white man, America.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

The group lists AAPS Educational Foundation as a resource. So AAPS is helping to fund the group?

Danielle Arndt

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

Please see my comment below.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

The AAPSEF is not part of the AAPS. But the article says this is an official group sanctioned by the school board, so yes, the resources and authority of our public school district are "sanctioning" a group that admits it has an "emphasis" on one single religion.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

I would like to know if this is true. If so, what are the criteria AAPSEF uses to fund groups specifically targeted towards race & ethnicity?

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4 p.m.

It seems to me that a "melting pot" is not some situation where we take immigrants and force them to adopt our already established ways but rather is a sharing of culture and of ideas. If this group helps the students at these schools learn more about Arab culture while helping Arab-Americans adjust more to our mainstream culture, then I am all for it. There are aspects of Arab culture which are pretty nice and frankly, it wouldn't hurt anyone if they served felafel in the lunch room once in a while.

Brewster Mallion

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

To me it seems as though you are all acting like a jealous lover. You want to hide America away for yourselves. As if it was too frail to stand by you in the presence of another. That you need to ensure your America isn't shared with anyone because even the smallest portion given unto others would taint the relationship. If our America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave then we should be brave enough to let everyone be free within it. I can ensure you, the America we know is not on the brink of obscurity. That the America we love is not in danger of becoming unrecognizable. The America we have cultivated through the years is only in trouble by the stagnant disdain from so many misguided individuals that desperately need to learn to share. Our America has few greater joys than that which comes from celebrating it among those who wish to participate.

Brewster Mallion

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

ViSHa, I will admit the last comment was pithy but you should reread the portion which you are quoting. I do not know they come from fear or ignorance, just that it appears to be so. It was merely a suggestion to consider any comments before posting. Even with my postings I struggle to find the line between voicing my concern over these opinions as we are all entitled to the freedom to have them. I just want the conversation to be around the idea that we do not need to restrain others freedoms within our country as that is what we have fought to have. The ability to be free within this land and express ourselves in our own right is at the heart of the American ideal which some here are saying is vanishing. When people seek to take that freedom away from anyone I find it necessary to speak out.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

gee brewster, that sounds real open-minded. "i welcome other opinions but i know they are coming from fear and ignorance".

Brewster Mallion

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

JNS131's it is precisely this embrace that sets America apart, this acknowledgement of differences and acceptance for them makes America the country you so desperately want to protect. In admonishing any difference or desire for a person to maintain some semblance of their culture within America is tarnishing this country. We are strong enough to allow any culture, any creed, and any race within our borders and let them thrive. The only risk of losing the America we know is when we become obstinate in the face of adversity and refuse to accept others. This disregard for human dignity, the inability to allow people to be themselves is what prevents our nation from moving forward. Are we so feeble that we fear the loss of ourselves by letting our neighbors celebrate in their own right? I welcome any points to the contrary but I implore you to reflect on them first as they only appear to come from ignorance or fear.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

If other countries won't embrace us, why should we?

E Claire

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

Right, those families in rural Alabama or in Appalachia sure are enjoying their white privilege. Maybe you need to bust out a little....being white is not a ticket to never ending happiness and prosperity. While males are probably the only people left who don't qualify for some sort of handout.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

Awesome point of view Brewter and for those posts above...they prefer to be called Arab Americans. Take a look at the white privelage you have enjoyed...try to bust out of your ignorance.

Brewster Mallion

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

I am a proud American. I am proud of my ancestry for certain, but certainly more proud of my future direction as an American. I have generations of family members from Michigan and am honored to call this state my home. I know, without a doubt, that I am privileged to be an American Michigander. However, I do know that my lineage was not started here it simply runs through here by the determination of my ancestors to stake their livelihoods on the American promise. Yet comments like these just seem so crass and misinformed. They fly in the face of our ancestors who toiled over this land to ensure us future generations the ability to preserve that promise. These comments deter the ability for us to become a melting pot. Research has shown that this flagrant anti-non-Americanism actually spurs the opposite sentiments which you are trying to imbue. That is to say, you are working against yourselves in being so stubborn as you try to grasp on this ideal of America you envision. Should we be so afraid of groups that just wish to showcase what makes them unique? Is there so much a problem for someone to cherish their past as they move forward? These groups are no different than any team, whether it be a sport, prayer group or dance outfit, they are simply bringing together individuals of similar interests and cultivating those persons to ensure they can meld with this pot. We are Americans and we can stand tall in the face of any adversity but this foreign cultural anxiety needs to end. We can embrace these differences and not fear that it will divide us. We can support these opinions and other religions and utilize these unique talents as that is what makes America the shining city on a hill.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 2:42 a.m.

We've become a society of political pansies, try going to another country and demand that they adopt our countries liberties and see how fast you get a one way ticket for even considering such a notion, can't wait till they make sharia law part of the constitution.

E Claire

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

We should, Brewster, but the problem is that the only voices allowed to be heard are those that are considered "liberal". Children are not taught to have an open mind when hearing a Christian or conservative voice, but instead are told that those views are wrong.

Brewster Mallion

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Would this not advocate for our understanding of other views? Should we become not better than the countries which are too weak to allow for all voices to be head?


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.

Walker? This is so true. I was told that if I ever decide to go to Europe? Or middle east? I better come prepared. Because most in the middle east do not like Americans. Neither do most Europeans. Kind of scary that sharia law may be in our constitution sooner then we think.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

So here I am a christian arab - what the heck do I do? I am in the mix of all of this - can't ever figure it why people don't realize that not all arabs are muslims and not all muslims are arabs. I still like my ethnic food and music ...

Angry Moderate

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Mrs. Jarjoura wrote in the Ann Arbor Open School newsletter that the group has an "emphasis on Arab and Muslim Americans." But I'm not sure exactly what a public school group giving a special "emphasis" to one religion and not others means.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Lets not forget the Arab-American Jews!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:40 a.m.

The group is for arab americans. Many are christian & muslim. People are tuning with their thoughts & are not accurate about this group.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

I have my favorite music, too, and I'm rather partial to Thai food and Italian food. Yet you don't see me trying to force these personal choices upon the Ann Arbor Public Schools. If you want your child to learn about your heritage, teach him or her. This is a private matter and has no place in the schools, except in a very limited and non-preachy manner (i.e., there are different religions and cultures, we should be accepting but not expected to participate, and if you want to learn more, ask your parents).


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

What's the fuss? It's just a parent organization. They do not set the curriculum. The biggest flaw, as has been pointed out, is that not all Muslims are Arabs and vice-versa (just like not all Jews are Israelis).

Jake C

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Yes, nobody watches the teachers' curriculum, except for the principals, and the parents, and the students, and the other teachers. No one at all...

Angry Moderate

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8 p.m.

Teachers have quite a bit of discretion to set the curriculum...nobody tells them exactly what to teach or watches them to ensure that they follow the rules when instructing young, impressionable children.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 11:29 p.m.

They are parents of students in the district. Even if they didn't have kids in the district, I don't see the problem. If they were Black, Native American, Jewish, or whatever and wanted to be in an organization then that's their business. If they want to lobby for changes to the curriculum, that's fine too. But they don't set the curriculum, so I don't see any issue.

Angry Moderate

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

It's not just a parent group...the article mentions at least 2 teachers who are members. Their personal religious views should not influence our curriculum.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

Here is the sixth grade history curriculum. I'm curious why anyone would think the history of Islam does not belong here.

average joe

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

I just have one question- Is there any teacher in the AAPS system that currently is, or is allowed to, instruct students in any fashion the basics and/or the background of the Christian faith? Again, I am just asking the question.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

We studied the 5 largest religions in the 6th grade.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

when I was a high school student in the AAPS system we learned about the 3 major religions (judaism, christianity, islam) in my Middle Eastern Civilizations course.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

as a product of AAPS, i was never taught anything about the Christian faith.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

Yes, they do in sixth grade.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Wow. Hard to believe that including a major religion in a class about other major religions brings out so much hate in people. I went to a Catholic school and we learned about every religion and no one converted, so let's be less hysterical people. So much fuss about teaching kids about other religions and cultures!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

The level of fear shown in the comments here show nicely why a group and curriculum like this are needed.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

I find it disturbing that this story repeatedly considers "Arab" and "Muslim" as synonyms. There are Christian Arabs in Ann Arbor too. Are they unwelcome by this new group?


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

A quick check at Wikipedia says that ~63% of "Arab Americans" are in fact Christians.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:29 a.m.

This group is for any arab americans, muslim & christian.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

Yes, I too was thinking about Christian Arabs. The general assumption is that all Arabs are Muslim. That is no more true than to assume all Muslims are Arabs.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Here comes Sharia law. Are they going to educate the kids about haw Islam actually spread thru the sword as shown in the Saudia flag? I thought AAPSA already gave them a Charter school with public funds. I thought individual rights superseded group rights.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

sh1? You will be. You will be. When the time comes. It will be time to run. If there is time to run.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

I'm surprised: it took 4 1/2 hours before the ridiculous Sharia Law thing was brought up.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Why so scared?

Angry Moderate

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

This group strangely seems to treat ARAB and MUSLIM interchangeably. The former is an ethnic group, while the latter is religious--and therefore has absolutely no business trying to change the curriculum of our public schools to suit its needs. And in what way are Arab-Americans "under-represented" in the AAPS? They seem to do quite well in terms of academic achievement.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Ahhh...the old "equity" buzzword. Must be a big Glenn Singleton fan. It all makes sense now.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:26 a.m.

Relax. Nobody is "changing" curriculum. Students need to have the best education possible & there needs to be equity. Equity makes people uncomfortable, like yourself.

Basic Bob

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Regardless of whether they are Muslim or Christian, they share a common culture. Fortunately I have met many atheists and many are not trying to inflict their (lack of) morality on me.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

While I don't want religion, ANY religion, in my schools, I just love it when people get all nervous when a group gets organized and commands attention. Yes this group is significant in our community, get over it. They are here and here to stay. Being a minority group in this country can be tough...... maybe some of you are nervous and may simply be experiencing this shift in the nations demographics. Find an African American, and Asian, a Latino or an Arab American and spend some quality time with them. They can help you with this transition. GOD BLESS AMERICA. I love MY country.

E Claire

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

Nothing wrong with being proud of where your roots lie but I'd rather spend my time with people who may be black, white, brown, whatever, who don't feel the need to separate themselves from everyone else based on skin color or facial features. If you were born in the US, you are an American, period.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

yes indeed. You are correct.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

Or you could find an American Indian and spend some quality time with them. They can help you with this transition.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

This is one of those 'not sure whether to laugh or cry' situations. An article about Arab parents wanting their kids to enter secular U.S. public schools, instead of a Muslim school, has drawn a stream of "why won't they just be Americans" type of posts.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

a2, it depends on what is meant by a religion being taught. If taught refers to an objective, academic analysis of a religion, that's of course fine. But if taught means promoted or encouraged then no, that's not the role of the public schools.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

"...instead of a Muslim school..." Is the idea that they want their religion taught in schools making you laugh or cry? Heaven forbid they were white, and their religion was Christian. If that were the case, would you laugh or cry?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

This story is very confusing. It seems to be using "Arab American" and "Islam" interchangeably. A brief internet search hasn't helped clarify it for me. I think many wouldn't get as defensive about integrating historical culture into the curriculum vs religion? I could be wrong..


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Does the current curriculum spend a week teaching every other religion? I doubt it. Other religions are probably used in historical context. Teaching "history" and teaching "religion" are different and one doesnt belong in puplic schools. I have a 6th grade student so I'll hold judgement until after the unit is taught.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:18 a.m.

Yes, the curriculum does teach the other religions & islam unit is a total of 6 lessons, less than a week. Fyi.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

We have African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans and now Arab-Americans. Where are the Asian-Americans? and the European-Americans?

E Claire

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

I think you nailed it Unusual Suspect. Maybe someday it'll be trendy to be a plain old white person

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

"Those who come from a multitude of European descents?" Sorry, we're not the privileged flavor of the decade.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

What about Mutt Americans? Those who come from a multitude of European descents?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

Same place as 'Regular Old Americans That Get Up In The Morning And Go To Work"


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

Maybe also Low Income-Americans? Data shows this group is represented in the educational "gaps". Perhaps they need representation and all will be "welcome".


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Sounds like good advice from Bryan Johnson. One question, maybe I missed it, are these groups completely self-funded or do they get funds from AAPS or any of the PTOs?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Anyone have an answer to @thecompound's question??


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:50 p.m.

"...Jarjoura explained "Middle Eastern" is no longer considered politically correct... Then she goes on to say: "..."We were like there's more than two Middle Eastern kids at the school..." I do get a kick out of the hypersensitive hypocrisy of special interest groups. "...changing the district's enrollment form so that students may check "Arab or Arab American..." Someday, not in my lifetime, there will be a box that says "Regular Old American"

E Claire

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

RSJ, the fact that any religion is being taught is the problem here. If they're going to teach a week on Islam, then they also need to spend a week on the religion practiced by each and every student. Or every culture and the main religions of those cultures. I don't care who is the minority and who is the majority. How are we to come together as Americans when all our gov't institutions do is emphasis every little difference?


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

RSJ, you seem to know a lot. Do you know if this group receives any funds from AAPS or any PTO????


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:59 a.m.

Mother & daughter have never forced their own culture on any of their students. They are proud Arab Americans who enjoy celebrating their culture along side many other cultures. Its amazing how just being an arab really makes people uncomfortable....its sad.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

And the first thing they taught when mine entered 6 also? They spent 2 months on Islam. Less then a month on any other culture. I made a serious complaint when I told them my child should be able to make their own decisions about all cultures. Not one. This is not the middle east. This is the United States in America.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Her mother was a teacher when I went to school there.

Bashir McCrutcheon

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

Is the mother also a teacher or a principal?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

My daughter also remembers learning about Islam in 6th grade as part of world cultures/history class (she is in high school now), yet the group just formed?

Angry Moderate

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

She and her mom have been forcing their culture on students since I was in their 1st and 4th grade classes. We had to bring in ingredients for a potluck of Arabic food, learn Arabic dancing, listen to Arabic music, etc. It was bizarre--we didn't do the same for any other culture. And as far as the group's statement that Islam is not covered in the middle school curriculum, that was absolutely not true when I attended AAPS--in 6th grade, we had to memorize the 5 "pillars" of Islam, etc.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

What ever happened to being American? Why come to the US if you don't want to be a part of it?Arab American seems to be all about Islam, just another religious group telling us what to do in education.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

If they are displaced Christians, then what gives with those scarves?


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

Actually, most Arab Americans you will meet here are not Muslim but are displaced Christians. Maybe this group is necessary after all if people don't know that.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

I disagree northside......why is it that only your opinion matters?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

The people writing things like this are (unintentionally) providing evidence as to why the support group is necessary.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

For conservatives who are perpetually confused as to why minorities more likely vote Democratic, give some thought to the posts on this board. It really doesn't take much empathy to figure out that being a kid who is Arab and/or Muslim in the U.S. means facing some additional challenges. Or that a parent support group to help those kids out makes sense. Yet what do we see here? The predictable "why don't white people have such groups" stuff, or complaints about "special interests" and a failure to fit into the mythical "melting pot."


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.

After reading all 12 of these issues? Remember this, we went to war because of 911. We fought to get the great tyrants out. They are still there. Guess what, they are now here. We are still in Afghanistan and yes, we moved out of Iraq. Country seems more stable now that we are out. But yes, a soldier died for an American child. Not someone who wants to stomp our constitutional rights. Sorry, but if you move here from another country? Blend in. Because if I go to your country? I was told I will be unwelcomed. Sorry but isn't this the truth?


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

Cool...a voting record is a voting record...unless of course you don't have one.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

a2, the last thing I'll say about this? If you have to go back 50 years to cite an example of a party favoring racial equality, odds are that party isn't doing much today.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Republicans say "Nobody deserves special treatment because they are a minority." Democrats say "Minorities deserve special treatment, otherwise they will not be able to catch up on their own." This implies that some minorities are inferior, and cannot succeed on their own. To me, that attitude is a far more insidious type of racism than the outright refusal to hire someone of a particular ethnic group.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

a2 check out Northern Democrats - usually politically liberal or moderate - voted heavily in favor of civil rights laws. Southern Dems - who were more likely to be conservative - voted against. The split on the votes for the civil rights laws wasn't Dem/GOP so much as north/south. The reason why the GOP rules the south today is because those conservative, anti-civil rights Dems were so upset with their party that they began leaving it in large numbers. They're also a big reason why the GOP has become so conservative today and why the Dems are more heavily tilted towards moderates and liberals.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

btw, Nixon voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as being an ardent supporter of the Civil Rights Act of 1957...the first piece of civil rights legislation passed since the Civil War. Of course, selective amnesia combined with memories of democrats George Wallace, Robert Byrd (kkk leader) and Strom Thurmond prevent you from giving credit where credit is due.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

"... those conservative Dems bolted to the increasingly conservative GOP..." Yes, the increasingly conservative GOP that voted for the Civil Rights Act.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

@ BS: There are many ways in which a person can fight for their country. But since I'm guessing you mean military service, the answer is no. So back to my question: what does that have to do with this topic and discussion? @ a2: In the 1960s the two parties were not split along liberal/conservative lines like they are today. There were many conservative Democrats, especially in the south, and also far more moderate and liberal Republicans (like Mitt's dad, our former gov). What happened to all those conservative Dems in the south? After civil rights legislation was supported by northern Dems, more likely liberal, and signed off on by LBJ those conservative Dems bolted to the increasingly conservative GOP. That's a key reason Nixon won in '68; it was called his 'southern strategy' of getting votes from those conservative, anti-civil rights Dems.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

You do realize, right, that over 80 percent of Congressional Republicans voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Yet only 63 percent of Congressional democrats did. And the myth of equality in the democratic party lives on...

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

I am curious as to why you avoided my question.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

BS, I'm afraid to hear your answer but will ask anyway: What does that have to do with this discussion?

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

And you have obviously never fought for this country.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

America is changing folks.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Congratulations on your revelation. It's been changing for centuries. You just figured this out now?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

BS, you can of course have your view. No need to get defensive, I'm not trying to take it away. I'm just asking a question: how do you view the nation's demographic changes?

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Are you saying I should not be allowed to have "MY" view?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

And in your view that's a bad thing?

Albert Howard

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

I plan to attend.

Albert Howard

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 9:39 a.m.

@MiddleAmerica Freelance reporter Janet Miller broke the story on Thursday, October 6, 2011. It was published in the hard copy and online edition. AAPS backs this support group (A2A2PSG) Patricia Green referred me to her legal counsel when I asked her the following questions.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:02 a.m.

Too bad you didn't make it....

Middle America

Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

Are you going to preach your nonsense about banning the Quran, Albert?

J. A. Pieper

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:21 p.m.

I am sure that will be a great benefit!

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

I'll give the group props for knowing exactly how to make AAPS run around in circles. If they learn that instead of making the elementary music program Islam-friendly, they should refer to the Elementary Music Gap, they could be a serious player in the special interest game.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

@Macabre Sunset - The group would not even have come about had not a Board of Education member, Glenn Nelson, solicited a teacher/parent to start the process. "The group began when Othman was approached by school board Trustee Glenn Nelson, whom she had met casually a few times at various school functions. "He came to me and said the board had been talking about wanting to hear more from Arab-American families in the district, to hear what their experiences have been like in our school system," Othman said." Just sayin'...


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:20 a.m.

If they want it Islam friendly there are schools and churches for that. Public education is what it is. Public education for all involved. Not just a minority of students. They are only doing this to prove that they are peace loving folks. Remember 911 and then tell the public education music teacher to play songs that are age appropriate. Not religion friendly. Sorry, don't tread on my 1st amendment rights. Let the children sing what the music teacher wants them to sing. Not what you think is appropriate to your middle eastern ideals. IMO


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Why aren't we a 'melting pot' any longer? I remember my grandparents trying hard to blend in by learning English, talking like a US citizen, acting like a US citizen and finally becoming a US citizen. They moved into a neighborhood mixed with many different cultures. The old country was left in Europe. All we seem to be doing is setting up camp, keeping our country of origin traits, cultures, beliefs, feelings and then making others treat us as minority groups that need special handling, treatment and government allowances and protections. So, where is the Polish-American Parent Support Group? Where is the Slovak-American Parent Support Group? Where is the German-American Parent Support Group? Where is the Italian-American Parent Support group? Etc., etc., etc.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:14 a.m.

The 6th grade covers the Ancient World up to about 550 C.E. (Common Era, otherwise known as AC). Islam is viewed to have been founded @ 622 C.E. It seems like this group is trying to force something that didn't occur in the confines of the textbook into the 6th grade curriculum just to get "their fair share" so to speak. Sounds like it's time for new textbooks.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

E claire..... Teaching ABOUT those religions is part of the sixth grade curriculum. It did not have islam covered. Remember, its education.

E Claire

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

"worked together with the district to create a one-week unit on the religion of Islam" Where are all the usual suspects who scream about the separation of church and state on this one? Danai, do you really think that the AA schools would be ok with a one-week unit on the religion of Christianity. Mormonism, Judaism? I feel that everyone has a right to practice the religion of their choice but this is ridiculous. Not all Arab Americans are Muslims, many are Catholic. Why aren't they exploring Catholicism?


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

I could not wait until the comment section was up and running to also get a voice in on this one as well. I am so behind what you are saying. Why this? Why now? I am so upset by this.. I totally understand Black America. But Arab America? No, I agree with above, we all need to blend in together without trying to stick out like a sore thumb. So are we now becoming a nation of look at me attitude? I totally believe this is what is coming down to. Good grief. We don't need this.

Bashir McCrutcheon

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

What nationality is Black (as in AABPS)......just sayin'


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

There's nothing stopping Polish-American, Slovak-American, German-American, Italian-American, etc., etc., etc., parents from forming such parent support groups if they felt a need. Just sayin'.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

It's called divide and conquer Itchy and we are falling for it.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

I'm curious to know more about what is meant by "trying to make the elementary music programs more Islam-friendly".

Angry Moderate

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

I'm still not clear on whether it was a misquote, or just being changed after the fact.

Danielle Arndt

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Thanks to readers for raising these questions. I have amended the article to add clarity and to read more accurately. In short, RSJ's assertion that the group wants more equity is correct. Currently, only a few cultures are included and showcased among the elementary music programs. The group would like to encourage the inclusion of all cultures, including Arab and Arab-American.


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Well, what say the author? Did you misquote this group?


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:30 a.m.

This was a mis-quote in the article. The group is doing no such a thing. We do not want religion in the schools. We don't want islam-friendly music. We want the music to be more equitable & expose all kids to various cultures including the arabic culture. This was a poorly written part that is simply not accurate.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

Beth, that was exactly my reaction to the statement. Is the elementary music program friendly (or not?) to any other religious group?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8 p.m.


Homeland Conspiracy

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

How about making more American friendly...after all this is America


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Maybe someone from this group can explain?