Virginia Department of Education Instructs Teachers to “Avoid” Talking About Muslim Extremism When Referencing 9/11

The Department of Education for the State of Virginia recently hosted a speaker who gave instruction to teachers to exclude the role Muslim extremism played when teaching students about the terrorism which occurred on 9/11.

Amaarah DeCuir, a well-known ““Education Leadership scholar,” gave a PowerPoint presentation in which teachers were told to avoid using language that would focus the events of 9/11 on Muslim extremism. DeCuir referenced the heightened anti-Muslim sentiment that tends to increase surrounding the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“School and classroom 9/11 commemorations are sites for increased anti-Muslim racism,” the presentation stated.  “This year’s 20th-anniversary commemorations will likely result in heightened risks of racist discourse, threats, and violence targeting Muslim students in schools and society. Educators are well-positioned to disrupt these risks by centering the socio-emotional needs of Muslims in their commemoration plans.”

DeCuir then presented a list of teaching standards that are “in” and “out,” according to her position. The teaching standards that are “in” include “acknowledgment of anti-Muslim racism.” Teaching standards that are “out” include the “false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11” and “American exceptionalism.”

Along with her viewpoints of what is “in” and what is “out,” she also presented a list of “harmful teaching” on 9/11. This included “creating a tense classroom environment,” “reducing 9/11 instruction to death counts and fear-mongering,” “assumptions of emotional distance,” “teaching about Islam and/or Muslims,” “amplifying the extremists and extremist acts of 9/11,” “demanding the condemnation of 9/11,” “failing to respond to anti-Muslim racism,” and “reproducing a single, American narrative that marginalizes other students.”

The biography of DeCuir from the American University states that she is an education scholar who “focuses on the intersections of leadership, gender, and diverse cultural contexts to advance social justice.” She tweeted about the event and called on “antiracist” educators to join and “disrupt” the current education of 9/11.

In a past statement, she thanked the Michigan-based Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) for supporting her work. This is a Muslim interest group that was endorsed by Michigan’s progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

“My work would not be possible without the amazing research from [ISPU]! Thank you for your support,” DeCuir wrote in a tweet. Tlaib is on record for endorsing the organization for its “profound” work as well.

“ISPU’s work is very profound. There’s so much truth in what they do — even making our community put a mirror up and saying this is what’s going on. I think that’s critically important,” Tlaib said.

Steve Newman, a Virginia State Senator, condemned the presentation and called on educators state-wide to teach “the facts.”

“I lived through 9/11… This one event was due to Muslim extremists and their actions, the desire of these individuals to kill as many Americans as possible at one time. Why do we need to change history, again? Just tell the facts,” Newman said. “We have a responsibility to our children today to ensure they know the awful truth about the events of that day, and the evil intent behind the terrorists … We must teach the next generation the truth about our history.”

Virginia Department of Education published a video entitled, “Culturally Responsive and Inclusive 9/11 Commemoration,” detailing how Virginia public school teachers should handle the upcoming twentieth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The video indicates that the emphasis on that day and thereafter must not be on the ideology of the attackers or the ongoing jihad terror threat; rather, the focus is entirely on acknowledging and eradicating what the video calls “anti-Muslim racism.”

What is coming from the Virginia Department of Education is similar to the comments of Minnesota’s Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. She once referred to the tragedies of 9/11 as “some people [that] did something.”