She races into the room, grabs his homework diary from his hands and storms into the kitchen. She takes a pen and writes a note to his teacher, pushing down on the paper so hard, it nearly rips.
She is livid as she writes that he “will NOT be taking part in this in any sort of way!!”. She slams the pen down. What did they do?
Mother And Wife
It was another day full of routine for Tara Cali. As a mother, a wife, and a full-time employee, she struggled with work-life balance on the best of days. But regardless of how busy she got, she would always make sure to be available if her son needed help with his homework.
Tara wanted her son to be taught all that he could at school. But there was a clear line between appropriate and inappropriate teachings for Tara.
A Wave Goodbye
It started off like any other morning. She raced around the kitchen preparing breakfast, her sons lunch and finding his shoes before she packed him up and drove him to school.
She waved at him as he waved back walking through the school doors. Now, she continued her drive to work, smiling as she took in the sunshine and blue skies. It was a day of stark contrast to her impending rage.
Later, she collects her son from school and asks him about his day. He smiles as he tells her about playing with his friends and learning ‘lots and lots and lots of new things!’. Tara listens enthusiastically.
Then he says something Tara didn’t quite understand. She looked at him inquisitive. “Are you speaking gibberish now?”, she laughs. But it wasn’t gibberish, he was saying something she couldn’t fathom.
What He Learned
After they got home, Tara prepared dinner and they all sat down to eat. She was speaking to her husband about his day when her son started speaking gibberish again. She laughed as she told her husband that apparently, this is what they teach kids nowadays.
Then she turned to her proud-looking son and told him to stop messing. But he wasn’t messing. He was saying exactly what he learnt today. Suddenly, his chin fell.
The Calm Before The Storm
He was disappointed they weren’t acknowledging his good memory and new skill. He quietly ate the rest of his food and waited until he was allowed to leave the table and go to the living room to do his homework.
Tara cleaned up as her son tended to his homework in the next room. And then she heard it. The noise that would throw her into a fit of rage.
She raced into her son and grabbed his phone out of his hands. “What is this?”, she asked. Confused, he answered. “Where did you get this? Who showed this to you?”, she pressed. He answered.
She was seeing red. She didn’t understand what his teacher was thinking. Does she know what age he is? “This is absolutely sickening”, she spits, “A complete disgrace!”.
Now it all makes sense. The words her son was speaking earlier weren’t gibberish at all. He was saying something that hit the core of her ignorance. She was never exposed to this kind of thing.
She looks at her son, who is now distressed as he feels he did something wrong. She quickly reassures him that it’s not his fault and he didn’t do anything wrong but his teacher on the other hand, will pay.
She closes the page open on her son's phone, grabs his homework diary and storms into the kitchen. She grabs a pen and writes a note to his teacher, pushing down on the paper so hard, it nearly rips.
She is livid as she writes that he “will NOT be taking part in this in any sort of way”!! She calls the teacher out for being a bad teacher and if she has a problem with it, call her her lawyer!
She went to bed angry, posting the note on facebook to vent her anger. It was completely inappropriate and she wanted to make sure everybody knew.
She told her son exactly what to do when he handed the teacher his homework note the next day and she couldn’t wait for karma to get her, but karma had a different target in mind.
Not Backing Down
The teacher was dumbfounded at Tara’s response to her son’s homework and took it up with the school board. She then asked Tara’s son why he refused to do the homework and he let them know that his mother told him not to.
Why would she do that? What was he saying and how did it relate to his homework? Why all this uproar?
World Religion Day
Tara’s son was given the homework of listening to some muslim prayers through a QR code printed on his homework diary. That day they had learnt a bit about Islamic prayer and beliefs.
It was a day of world religion teachings as the teacher and school felt it was important to educate kids on the different religions of the world to enlighten any religious ignorance. But this wasn’t how Tara saw it.
‘How about Christian practices? That sheet has never came home, this year or last! [sic]’ she added to her written tirade.
Under the QR code that students were invited to scan to hear the call to prayer from a Mosque in Istanbul, Cali simply wrote, ‘Seriously?’ and penned in six Bible verses instead. And the reason?
Tara considered this an ‘indoctrinate into the religion’ and resented the idea that her son be taught anything other than Chistianity. She proved her point by quoting several bible verses at the end of her note.
But now that the teacher was equipped with all the facts of the matter, she was ready to set Tara straight, but she wasn’t the only one. Remember that facebook post?
It took off and created a heated debate online about what should and shouldn’t be taught in schools. Some users shamed Tara for her views saying:
“I am a teacher and completely agree that this should be taught as a part of world history curriculum. And that QR code is an awesome, interactive idea. I actually love this assignment”. But others disagreed.
While you’d think that Tara’s Facebook post would mostly be ignored by most of the world, it managed to rack up 38,000 likes and more than 123,000 shares.
Some of the comments from parents accuse the government of ‘brainwashing’ their children and insist that Christianity is being sidelined in favor of Islamic teachings in schools.
“GOOD FOR YOU MOM! We, as Americans, need to stand up for Christianity, which ARE the principals on which this country was founded!” one supporter wrote.
Another user said: “Seventh graders do not, nor never had, “world history”. First, they need to learn Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton. So….NO. don’t try to tell me that this should be a part of their studies.”
Judging from the support Tara initially received, she’s not alone in her views. “If you can’t teach Jesus you shouldn’t be able to teach Islam,” quipped another user.
But there’s a problem with this. America isn’t actually a Christian country. And, in U.S. schools, teachers are allowed to teach students about Jesus. Here’s where things started to heat up.
A Divisive Issue
After so much initial support from likeminded people, Tara’s post started to gain traction in circles with opposing views - especially teachers.
They pointed out that learning about a range of religions and cultures is a standard component of the curriculum in California, and it is essential for a well-rounded education. And, ironically, the textbook does include chapters about Christianity.
A Standardized Curriculum
One teacher wrote: “Let me first say, I’m a Christian, but I feel like you’re taking this a little far. This is a part of World History. It’s not to force religion upon your child…”
“Remember that the teaching method is standardized. So that’s a California thing. So good luck trying to find a different school that’s NOT going to teach that textbook in this state.”
The American Civil Liberties Union
While U.S. schools have the right to teach their students about the different religions around the world, they may not “advance particular religious beliefs” upon them. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “The school’s approach to religion is academic, not devotional.”
Awareness, Not Indoctrination
The American Civil Liberties Union expands on that: “The school may strive for student awareness of religions, but should not press for student acceptance of any religion. The school may sponsor study about religion, but may not sponsor the practice of religion.”
But Tara is not the only one who opposes schools teaching students about different religions.
In Tennessee, Parents outraged parents also voiced their anger that students are being taught the five pillars of Islam. In Georgia, people have formed a Facebook group with more than 4,000 members in order to contest “Georgia’s Islamic Curriculum.”
There is growing anger about the way the U.S. school system is approaching Islam. Unfortunately, the movement seems to be fuelled by the misconception that all Muslims are extremists. But it’s not the first time parents have been up in arms over Islam, and it certainly won’t be the last…
Brother Rice High School
Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills has come under fire by dozens of angry parents for their “prayer room” on the school’s grounds.
Because the Catholic school has more than a dozen Muslim students, the school president decided to let them use a “sacred space” to pray. But when the parents heard about it, the complaints came pouring in.
Parents wrote in to 7 Acion News, complaining that the prayer room at the school is “unconscionable,” with one mother even saying that the religious education she’s paying for is undermined by Muslim students using the prayer room to practice their religious beliefs.
So, how did the prayer room come about on the Catholic school grounds?
A “Sacred Space”
The school president, John Birney, explains: "When the question was 'Is there a place that I can pray?', the answer that evolved was yes. We have this 'sacred space' available for you if you want it."
When responding to the complaints, John said: "My quick response is, all Catholic schools have as part of their admissions that they don't discriminate based on race, creed, color."
When asked about the parents complaining about the prayer room, John spoke about tolerance: "Is this something that compromises our faith and identity, or is it in fact consistent with the respect that we have.”
“We are Catholic in the sense that we share the good news, we are not Catholic in the sense, 'Hey if you're not Catholic don't bother coming here.'"
John added that his Muslim students must conform to the Catholic curriculum, like all his other students - which they have. He says that they respect the Catholic faith, so it’s only right that the school respects theirs.
After the backlash Tara Cali and her supporters received on Facebook, maybe they should follow this Catholic school’s example?
The Debate Rages
“The only thing I see here is how closed minded you are. I’m not very religious but last time I checked, Christianity promoted forgiveness, understanding, treating others with respect, and do unto others as you wish to be done unto you,” another user wrote on Tara’s post.
Tara had to create a new facebook page after the fiery debate and backlash, but the fight continues as she is dead set on holding her ground as a proud christian.
What Do You Think?
Despite what some people think about the Islamic faith, most people agreed that Tara’s behavior was unacceptable.
The outpouring of support for the U.S. education system that people showed on Tara’s Facebook post proves that most people are generally accepting of different cultures and religions. In fact, a well-rounded education that includes teaching about religions will help students function in modern society. What do you think?