Student Rejects Claims of Anti-Muslim Protesters, Praises CAIR Presentation.
For the past few months, anti-Muslim demagogue Terry Kemple with the help of Islamophobe David Caton have hijacked the Hillsborough County School Board meetings to force School Board members to listen to hours of hateful attacks against Islam and American Muslims. Below is a brief video showing how Tampa school board meetings are being used as a platform by Islamophobes to promote their xenophobic anti-Muslim agenda:
|Anti-Muslim Hate Comes to Hillsborough County School Board Meetings|
As the Tampa Bay Times writes, "now we've come to this: People [at school board meetings] comparing Muslims to pedophiles and felons and expecting elected officials to agree."
The Islamophobes demanded that the school board host a workshop to consider banning America's largest Muslim civil rights organization from speaking to students-claiming that allowing a representative of Islam to speak is like allowing a representative of pedophilia to speak.
CAIR-Tampa executive director, Hassan Shibly said in response to the abuse of school board meetings by those wishing to promote fear and hatred of Islam:
It feels like we're taking a step back in time to days when people used school board meetings to promote racism against African Americans. It's very inappropriate and sad to see that the school board meetings have been used as a platform by anti-Muslim extremists to promote bigotry and hatred of Islam and hardworking American Muslims
The Tampa Bay Times reports today that:
...member April Griffin said the discourse of recent months - in which some speakers have disparaged the entire religion of Islam - is "absolutely disgusting," and the board should not give in to pressure from conservative activists such as David Caton and Terry Kemple.
"I resent having this conversation in the first place," Griffin said. "I do not think we need a policy. My goal right now is to keep things the way they are." Others said they trust the judgment of teachers and principals.
So yesterday, the school board held a workshop and heard testimony from a student who attended a talk on Islam given by CAIR at a local high school last year: The student, along with many teachers said that having a guest speaker, like one from CAIR, enriches the learning experience.
The student told ABC Action News in the video below that speakers from CAIR should "absolutely" be welcome in the classroom:
|Student Welcomes CAIR Presentation|
Students who actually attended the presentation have continuously debunked the attacks lead by Terry Kemple and David Caton.
None of the anti-Muslim protesters actually had family members who attended the presentation.
According to Tampa Tribune today:
Austin Ransdell said it was no big deal.
The Steinbrenner High School sophomore was in the advanced placement world history classroom late last year when a guest speaker from the Council on American Islamic Relations visited to talk about the Muslim religion.
Ransdell said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the local CAIR group, didn't try to brainwash the students. Nor did he try to convert them.
He simply tried to give them a primer on what could be called Islam 101.
"I was never uncomfortable at any time," Ransdell told Hillsborough County school board members who met Friday afternoon for a workshop on guest speakers in the classroom. "I thought it was just another way to learn it."...
"I think [the attacks on the speaker are] unfounded," Ransdell said, speaking of the outcry....
After 2½ hours, board members seemed to come to a consensus that they have enough policies and procedures in place for guest speakers in the classroom. With the exception of Stacy White, all seemed to agree there already are rules that exist to legislate such things.
They also agreed on another topic - that they are sick and tired of the amount of time they have spent on the issue.
"I want to get back to the business of this district," said April Griffin. "What we have been doing works. What I heard from the student today assured me of that. I heard nothing that raised any concerns...."
A handful of school administrators told the board there is a significant value in having guest speakers in the classroom. Banning them or strictly curtailing them, they said, would not be a good move.
"What the speakers add to the classroom is legitimacy," said Robert Padgett, the social studies chairman at Plant City High School. "When you bring someone in who has personal experience, it lends legitimacy to what has been said."
Pam Bowden, principal at Durant High School, said guest speakers are particularly important for career and technical education fields.
She said it would be hard for students to get hands-on experience from professionals such as chefs and welders if they were not allowed into the classroom.
"I think it's critical we have guests come into our schools," Bowden said. "It makes our students stronger and smarter and more prepared for the real world."
In the end, the board decided it does not need to pass any new rules and restrictions on guest speakers. But it will have to address the issue at a pair of regular board meetings in the future.
See:10 News (Video): Hillsborough School Board Discusses Speaker Policy