Allen ISD is in the process of addressing and “looking for potential resolutions” to allegations that the district’s curriculum included anti-Palestinian assignment questions, the district confirmed Monday.
These allegations were first made in a Feb. 23 blog post by the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights advocacy group. The post alleged that one quiz consisted of the question, “Which is an important cause of terrorism in the Middle East,” with the correct answer being, “Many Palestinians believe terrorism is justified against Israeli occupation.”
The blog post also cited a curriculum section titled “The Palestinian Viewpoint,” which allegedly featured a picture of a Hamas member holding an assault weapon while wearing a black mask with Arabic characters. Allegedly juxtaposed to this section was a section titled “The Israeli Viewpoint,” which CAIR said displayed “casual soldiers standing outside.”
“This so-called school curriculum is nothing more than a propaganda piece to dehumanize Palestinians and show a skewed version of history,” said CAIR-DFW executive director Faizan Syed in a statement. “When the correct answer to a quiz question is that terrorism exists because a specific ethnic group ‘believe terrorism is justified’ you’ve successfully dehumanized that group and justified violence against them.”
When reached for comment, Syed said, “At this time we are working with the school to address the curriculum and ensure that this specific part is not used in the future.”
Allen ISD chief information officer David Hicks confirmed this, adding, “Since learning about the publication of the referenced blog post, Allen ISD officials have held several meetings with the parent named in the post.” Hicks also said that the district held a formal meeting with Syed to give the organization a forum to further express concerns.
“Allen ISD strives to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all of our students,” Hicks continued. “As a school district, we will continue to listen to our parents and community members and work together for the betterment of our schools.”
The district also sent a formal response to CAIR-DFW in the wake of the incident, which added that the cited instructional material was not created by Allen ISD. Per the formal response, district officials contacted the publisher of the curriculum, Jarrett Publishing Company, and shared the concerns expressed by activists and community members.
“We have since learned that an updated 2020 edition of the textbook no longer features the photo of Hamas members, and has been replaced with a photo of a peaceful Palestinian demonstration,” the district said. “Additionally, Allen ISD shared with Dr. Jarrett the concern of the section of the book that states, ‘Many Palestinians believe terrorism is justified against Israeli occupation.’ Dr. Jarrett has agreed to update this language to change the word ‘many’ and replace it with ‘some’ in future editions of the book. To align with Dr. Jarrett’s intent to update future editions, Allen ISD will update the wording on its current copies of the 2020 edition of the book.”