On Wednesday, Jan. 27, a Michigan-based law firm filed a lawsuit in federal court against Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) on behalf of two parents who objected to their daughter completing a high school World History assignment involving Islam.
The case is now in litigation, and the school system will not comment on allegations or statements in the lawsuit.
The concern about the assignment was initially made to the school system in October 2014. At that time, CCPS released the following statement to clarify what is taught in its high school World History curriculum:
There has been a lot of public discussion about what Charles County Public Schools teaches or does not teach in World History classes. The issue revolves around a unit focusing on the development of the Middle Eastern empires and the role of the Islamic faith in the history of those empires. The following is clarification of what CCPS teaches.
The CCPS social studies curriculum adheres to the Maryland World History curricular standards that are a requirement for all counties in the state. These standards include an analysis of the elements of culture such as art, music, religion, government, social structure, education, beliefs and customs in societies throughout history. Regarding the study of history specifically, the standards also state that students should be able to analyze the customs and beliefs of world religions and their expansion, as well as how their establishment has impacted other areas of culture, and in certain times and regions, even caused conflict.
The particular unit in question is on the formation of Middle Eastern empires in which students learned the basic concepts of the Islamic faith and how it, along with politics, culture, economics and geography, contributed to the development of the Middle East. Other religions are introduced when they influence or impact a particular historical era or geographic region. For example, when reviewing the Renaissance and Reformation, students study the concepts and role of Christianity. When learning about the development of China and India, students examine Hinduism and Buddhism.
Here is a link to the state World History class curriculum standards http://www.ccboe.com/PDF/worldhistorystandards.pdf.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.