I think students should learn about all religions to understand those around them. I went to a private Christian university, and we still learned about Islam and Buddhism. We read the Quran and even visited a mosque and a Buddhist temple. Now when I speak about other religions, I speak as someone who is informed.
Yes, students should be able to learn about many different cultures. Just because there are some bad people that are Islamic does not mean that we should stereotype. There are many bad people that follow many different cultures in the world. We can not forget that we are all in the same.
Yes, parents overreacted in Virginia county causing schools to be shut down because of a standard homework assignment on Islam. A large amount of the world population follows Islam. Islam has historical roots in many subjects such as history, mathematics, and even language. Schools should be educating their students about Islam because the religion itself is something students should know about, so parents definitely overreacted causing the Virginia county schools to close.
There should be no school assignments that are geared at teaching tradition, sectarianism or mysticism which is all that religion really amounts to, in the end. All public schools should be abolished entirely on the grounds that the free market would do a far better job at managing parent's resources while offering a range of competing options that don't currently exist.
Whether parents in Augusta County overreacted or not, is a matter of personal opinion, but what I think the fierce backlash shows us is the heightened sense of mistrust and fear many people now have towards Islam.
After a month of calculated attacks around the world, it should come as little surprise people are calling for the shutting down of mosques and deportation of any Muslims thought to be spreading radical Islamic beliefs.
In my opinion, the two things that led to the hysteria over this assignment were: timing and content.
Had the teacher assigned her students to copy an Arabic phrase that spelled out a non-religious and more basic phrase, I doubt it would have raised the storm it has.
And had it not been issued at a time when national security is the hottest topic in GOP nomination, it most likely would have done no more than raise an eyebrow or two.