Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten is at it again. In the spring she claimed the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) charter school was violating separations of church and state by teaching Islam (the state disagreed, with two minor exceptions). Now she’s claiming that a new group launching three new charter schools, the Minnesota Education Trust (MET), has their own Islamic agenda. I can’t believe I’m having to write about this again.
Kersten may be raising valid points, but they’re lost in her rhetoric and lack of balance. She points out that one of MET’s first priorities is “to promote the message of Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims and promote understanding between them,” and then asks the question, “How can an organization dedicated to promoting religion be qualified to sponsor public schools?”
Great question. How can organizations with similar religious goals like Bethel University, North Central University, Concordia University and Friends of Ascension—all sponsors of charter schools in Minnesota—be qualified to sponsor public schools?
Unfortunately that’s a question of balance and perspective that Kersten ignores. She notes that “In the past few years, several churches and a synagogue have approached the department about sponsoring charter schools, according to [Minnesota Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Chas] Anderson,” but she doesn’t explore any of these current charter school sponsors that have clear religious connections or explain how they may or may not be different from MET.
In a nutshell, it’s a religious double standard. Though I suppose we can’t completely blame Kersten—few journalists today seem to be able to give that sense of balance and perspective. During the reports of the $150,000 spent on Sarah Palin’s clothes, where were the reports of how much Barack Obama spends on suits or Hillary Clinton spends on pantsuits? Sadly no one gave us some kind of comparable number to put Palin’s expenditures in the proper light.
Instead of being balanced and raising appropriate questions in their proper context, Kersten continues to fuel anti-Muslim sentiment, something Barack Obama continues to face even though he isn’t even a Muslim.