I hope Riverdale Elementary stands behind its teacher regarding his comments about Muslims.
When the president of the U.S. calls Iran part of the axis of evil, you're going to get questions from your students. I've been teaching seventh- and eighth-graders for 17 years and we've had lots of discussions about lots of ethnic groups in the world, particularly Muslims and Jews. I've always pointed out that there are radicals among every religious group, including Christians, that tolerate murder.
This often leads to a discussion on the beauty of public schools. Public schools are diverse and can promote racial tolerance. I've had several Muslim students in my classes over the years and they are almost always the most popular students in class.
In my tolerance discussions, I point these students out and the other students are totally shocked. They never thought about it.
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The problem with any discussion is that, like some adults, some students only hear what they want to hear. You never can reach them all. If this teacher had told students we can't discuss these things and there had been a problem, he would have been told to discuss them. Teachers walk a fine line.