A little more than a month ago I wrote about a local Twin Cities columnist up in arms about a charter school. Katherine Kersten claimed the school, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), illegally blurred the lines of church and state by forcing Islamic prayer and instruction. The Minnesota Department of Education has investigated and their report said: “MDE has determined that, with regard to the areas reviewed, most of TIZA’s operations are in compliance with state and federal law.” The investigation did find two “areas of concern” that TIZA will need to address, moving a Friday voluntary prayer session off campus and adjusting the busing schedule to bus kids home at the end of the school day, not only after voluntary after-school activities (which include religious and secular offerings).
The whole story seems kind of dumb to me. There were some valid questions that needed to be addressed (and they are), but the entire tone and approach of the original attack is ridiculous. It brought out the worst of Minnesota when the school in question started receiving threats and had to bring in extra security. It gets even more ridiculous when a state legislator called for Kersten to resign and Kersten responded with a blog post of her own. And there’s even more ridiculousness when a KSTP camera crew showed up at the school and got in a fight with school officials. What?
This whole story is quickly becoming absurd. It’s embarrassing for the local media, the TIZA school (who lost the high ground with that camera crew incident) and Minnesota in general. More than anything this shows how very far we have to go before we can understand and get along with Muslims.
There’s also a nice blow-by-blow comparison of Kersten’s allegations and what the Minnesota Department of Education actually found.