Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FLAP as Foreign Language Assistance Program makes Arabic studies mandatory at some Texas schools

CBS News/DFW Reports that some parents are outraged that a mandatory Arabic studies program was instituted at their school, and this occurred without advance notice or discussion. Funding for this $1.3 million program is made possible by you and me – taxpayers who fund the Department of Education’s “FLAP” program. FLAP is an acronym for Foreign Language Assistance Program.

Behold the FAQ sheet created by the Mansfield school bureaucrats:

Why Arabic?
The Arabic language is listed by the federal government as a “critical language.” This means that our country has a shortage of Arabic speakers and in order to maintain a presence in the Middle East, we need people who not only are proficient in the Arabic language, but also possess knowledge about Arabic cultures and traditions. We are given a unique opportunity to provide students the opportunity to learn Arabic so they can pursue careers in diplomacy and international business.

So far so good. No doubt Arabic speakers are in demand (although this does not mention the obvious fact that we need also them to translate jihadist websites). But then we come to this explanation, which immediately begins to take on politically-correct overtones for those of us who are alert to these insidious influences:

Why Cross Timbers?
Cross Timbers Intermediate School has the highest percentage of native Arabic speakers in the district. The cultural knowledge that our Arabic students possess will be of great assistance to the development of this program.

Since when is that a prerequisite? Is French and Spanish taught largely in districts with high proportions of native French or Spanish speakers?  And if this district already has a high percentage of native Arabic speakers, wouldn’t it make more sense to give this grant money to districts who don’t?

What does the 100 minutes per week look like?
Students will receive an average of 20 minutes per day of Arabic language and culture through social studies classes, advisory once a week and intermittently in electives such as technology applications, art and P.E. This grant provides for 100 minutes each week out of 1875 total instructional minutes. They will also have access to Arabic literature in Language Arts, as well as having opportunities for language acquisition through the use of Rosetta Stone and iPod Touches before and after school as well as during the school day.

P.E.?!  How will this work exactly? Will they discuss how Israeli tennis players can’t participate in tournaments in Dubai because of threats to their security?  Will they be taught about gender segregation at athletic facilities and gyms, common in the Arab/Islamic world?  Will the girls compare the Burkini with the bikini?  I’d be in favor of these discussions, but I suspect that the integration of Arabic into P.E. will be limited to learning how to say, on your mark, get set, go.  As for the blend of language arts and social studies, will books like Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel be among the books studied by these students?   Will they study modern day slavery in the Sudan? Will they be familiarized with the history of the Muslim Brotherhood?  The daily carnage unleashed by the so-called Religion of Peace – a religion whose cultural and political influence on the Arab world is impossible to ignore?  Will they be taught about the persecution of Christians in the Arab world? Or will they be force fed Obama’s Cairo speech?

Will every student be studying Arabic?
Every student will have the opportunity to participate in the program.

Really? How very Orwellian.  Mandatory participation is magically transformed into an “opportunity” to participate. Then we get to this odd item:

What are the benefits to participating?
This allows students to be prepared to compete globally for jobs that are not in existence yet.

You’ll forgive me if I’m stymied by this benefit.  Maybe I need an Arabic translator to understand it.  Moving on we have the usual bromides:

• This project supports the diversity within MISD.

And this unusual benefit:

• This project allows students and teachers to learn about the Arab impact on our country.

“Impact” could be a poor choice of words, what with the impact of various jets on 9/11.  Meanwhile I have to ask - Will students learn about the attitudes of, say, Egyptians toward justice as revealed by this recent Pew poll, and what impact these attitudes could have on this country among Arab immigrants?:


What assurances do Texans (and the rest of us taxpayers who fund this FLAP) have that Arab culture will be taught without whitewashing the stark differences between Arab and American cultures?   At this point I remain unconvinced, what with never ending concerns about ‘sensitivities’.   While I acknowledge that it is preferable to learn languages at the earliest possible age, I don’t see how it’s possible to teach an unbiased course in Arabic and Arabic culture which also omits the dark side of the crescent moon.  Until these questions can be satisfactorily answered, I can’t help but conclude that this sort of curriculum is better geared towards older students who are (theoretically at least) capable of a higher degree of critical thinking and objectivity and less susceptible to the manipulation of propagandists posing as “educators”.


-I was all set to hit publish when I saw  this from the Mansfield school district. The school district takes issue with reports that these courses were “mandatory”:

Recent concerns have been raised by parents concerning plans for the curriculum. We are working with parents and staff for the language curriculum development.

  • Mansfield ISD has slowed the process of implementation to get parent input for curriculum creation.
  • There are no “mandatory Arabic classes” as being falsely reported in the media.
  • As part of language acquisition and development, the early grades would have elements of Arabic language within the framework of the state-mandated curriculum.

I’m not clear at all what this latter point means, but I have an image of them learning to say the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.

-Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s blog weighs in here with his reliably incisive comments and wit.

No comments: