Wednesday, September 5, 2007

NYC's Controversial Arabic Academy Opens

by Marcia Kramer from WCBS New York

Opponents of the Khalil Gibran International Academy held a vocal protest on the steps of City Hall Tuesday. They claim it will be a "madrassa," or a school to help train Islamic radicals. Even some 9/11 families are opposed to the school. Protestors say they have been unable to get the Department of Education to reveal the school's curriculum or the textbooks it will use, which some say will come from Arab countries. "It is well known that many of the texts emanating from countries like Saudi Arabia are filled with anti-American, anti-Zionist rhetoric," says Irene Alter, who has been teaching foreign language in the city for 30 years. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein defended the school, saying in addition to Arabic, students will learn regular subjects like English, math, and social studies. The hope, he says, is that the students become fluent enough in Arabic to have all their classes taught in that langauge. Right now the school holds 60 sixth graders, but the plan is to expand to 600 in grades 6-12.

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