- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

The National Education Association is suggesting to teachers that they be careful on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks not to "suggest any group is responsible" for the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people.

Suggested lesson plans compiled by the NEA recommend that teachers "address the issue of blame factually," noting: "Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise."

But another of the suggested NEA lesson plans compiled together under the title "Remember September 11" and appearing on the teachers union health information network Web site takes a decidedly blame-America approach, urging educators to "discuss historical instances of American intolerance," so that the American public avoids "repeating terrible mistakes."

"Internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Arab Americans during the Gulf War are obvious examples," the plan says. "Teachers can do lessons in class, but parents can also discuss the consequences of these events and encourage their children to suggest better choices that Americans can make this time."

The NEA Web site list includes more than 100 lesson plans teachers will be able to use to help elementary, middle and high school students integrate how they might remember the day's events through subjects such as art, drama and math. The Web site (www.neahin.org) is scheduled to go live Aug. 26.

"America is very much together in terms of remembering September 11," said Jerald Newberry, executive director of the union's Health Information Network. "Americans see their schools as the place that will help their children make sense of these horrific events and move forward as better people."

However, critics said some of the suggestions included in the lesson plans aimed at junior and senior high school students can be seen as an affront to Western civilization.

The suggestions and lesson plans were developed by Brian Lippincott, affiliated with the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the John F. Kennedy University in California.

Critics argue the proposed lesson plans are a form of "cultural Marxism," in that the lessons defend all other cultures except Western civilization.

"A lot of what's stated in these lesson plans are lies," said William S. Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative policy think tank. "None of what is mentioned in these plans are facts. It's an ultimate sin to now defend Western culture. It does not matter today whether a student learns any facts or any skills. What matters now is the attitude they come away with when they graduate school."

The critics also have trouble with schools teaching about Islam, specifically when teachers describe it as a "peaceful religion." Instead, they say, schools should warn children that the root of the problem lies in Islamic teaching.

"There is no such thing as peaceful Islam," Mr. Lind said. "It says that followers should make war on those who believe that Christ is the Messiah."

Phyllis Schlafly, president of the conservative Eagle Forum, said schools should stick to teaching more important subjects such as math, English and science.

"There is nothing that schools can add to what happened on September 11, that the children haven't already seen in the media," Mrs. Schlafly said. "They should stay off of it and teach what's true. They should leave it alone."

Mr. Newberry said the suggested list was compiled by about 200 teachers from across the country after the NEA received hundreds of calls from parents shortly after September 11 asking the schools to help their children understand what happened.

Mr. Newberry said that the site will feature speeches that will be read in New York City, including the "Gettysburg Address," the Declaration of Independence, Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

It also will include a look at using the Pledge of Allegiance; however, no specifics were announced.

"Our goal is to capture from the patriotism point of view some of the history of the United States where outstanding leaders have spoken to the issues of patriotism and freedom," Mr. Newberry said. "I think it would be difficult to find an American who doesn't agree with remembering September 11. I think these critics are in the minority."

Muslim groups applauded the NEA's efforts, saying the critics' statements are centered around "an anti-Muslim phobia."

"The NEA's [lesson plans] provides teachers with a well-balanced, wide range of resources teachers can use to help teach students how to appreciate diversity," said Hodan Hassan, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations. "You're only enriching the learning process. The critics' viewpoints will only harm the children."


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