Monday, December 27, 2010

**With UPDATE!*PDX's Rigler Public Grade School Provides Students With Bibles, Gives Kids Special Chapel in School to Pray During Math Class

(UPDATE BELOW) Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I got it all wrong. Whoops. Dang I knew I messed something up. Wrong religion. Nothing to see here. Go about your business.
For English Speakers: Photo Retakes, Conferences and Prayer Rugs Available
Muslim students at Portland's Rigler Elementary School are given their own school provided prayer room, prayer rugs, helpfully stored in the prayer room by the school, and let out of class five times a day to pray to Allah. Did I mention this is during school hours? School officials AND the PPS spokesman confirmed before I went on the air with this earlier this month. 

This was first reported to us by the relative of a teacher at the school who called to the show thinking it odd that schools in Portland who don't allow creche scenes and can't bring themselves to call it a "Christmas" tree actually provide the prayer implements for the mostly Somalian Muslims at Rigler Elementary. Apparently that whole prayer in public school being unconstitutional thing applies only to Christians. 
The school stores the Muslim prayer rugs for the students in a special room and they roll them all out for the kids five times a day.
Government schools are required to accommodate religious beliefs of students to a point, but this is beyond the pale. LDS families, for instance, are allowed to excuse their children for religious instruction during school but decamp to another building to provide it. Christian prayer groups have to meet off school time if they can meet at all at a school. The same goes for any other religion except Islam at this and other schools in Portland. 
In SW Portland, near the Portland Islamic Center, students are allowed to leave school--as accused terrorist Mo Mo used to--and go to the Mosque to pray five times a day. This father wrote in to describe how that constant interruption takes away learning time from other students:
Victoria,
My son attends high school in SW Portland.  He said that a number of his classes are disrupted by a group of Muslims who are brought late to class by a school administrator after they have completed their prayers.  The class comes to a halt while the kids come in and the administrator apologizes for interrupting the class.
Ken Klukowski, the head of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Christian based Family Research Council, to me about this Rigler Elementary issue recently on the program (Click to listen).
Klukowski says case law regarding Muslim prayer and other considerations hasn't caught up with the real world on this issue but says this situation is, "completely inconsistent with how federal courts have treated other religious groups especially Christian." Not only can you not have Christian prayer in school but you can't even have a moment of silence because it was "intended to help facilitate prayer"-- a violation of the establishment clause according to a Supreme Court decision.
He believes cases like this and others involving special accommodations for Muslim students, for instance separate foot washing sinks in school, need to have a full, frank judicial reconsideration to put all religions on the same footing. He believes if these students were Christian or Orthodox Jew they would not be given a separate room in which to pray during school hours.
The Muslim faith is treated with much more respect in schools than Christianity. Who can forget the Massachusetts elementary school children taken to a mosque? Remember? The boys were separated from the girls and the boys were "allowed" to pray to Allah.

Since this original post was made weeks ago the spokesman for PPS says never confirmed the story. Then he sent a message confirming the story. Check the Comments section as well. Here's a post made on 1/18/11. Please read on:

January 18, 2011

Zero's "Politifact" Goes After Claims About Rigler Elementary

Let's go back to the beginning. We received a phone call at the program on KPAM 860 from the relative of a Rigler teacher who claimed that, unlike any other children of faith, Muslim kids were allowed to use school facilities to pray as often as they wished (Muslim adherents can pray up to five times per day) and had their gear stored at school in a room to accommodate their needs when they wanted to pray. 



We checked it out and found out from a school official it was true. My producer contacted Matt Shelby, the spokesman for Portland Public Schools, whom I was told was checking into it but said that of course they did make accommodations for children of faith. So it was a half confirmation, if you will. (here's the original post complete with his comments) Shelby has now confirmed that children have used the accommodations before but he claims it's been a long time.  He's attempting to suggest that I "LIED" about the situation at Rigler. That is NOT true. I did not lie. I may have conflated his "checking it out" with the other confirmations but it's not a lie--intentional or otherwise. In fact his subsequent email/comment on the blog (which was held up because, a) it awaited moderation, b) while I checked out his claim) actually CONFIRMS the accommodation at Rigler. 
Here's Matt's email/comment to the blog:
    Victoria,
    The reader board in Spanish advertises: days with no school in November, Parent Teacher conferences and Book Fair.
    Rigler School does not have any students that pray as part of their school day. This includes, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Mormons and other groups mentioned in the article.
    Consequently, the school does not have any space or equipment devoted to any type of religious practice at school
    Four years ago, Rigler did have two brothers who asked permission to pray during their lunch during Ramadan. The school did give them a quiet space to use; they missed no instructional time to do so and only prayed once a day.
    Those are the facts.
    Remind me when you or Eric spoke to me about this. I don't recall.
    Matt Shelby
    PPS Communications
When Matt refers to the reader board at Rigler he's referring to a reader board in front of the school which is all in Spanish. I translated the reader board. I was being sarcastic and engaging in what we call satire when I said in the caption: 
I actually know a little Spanish, hence I actually read most of it right. The "prayer rug" reference was satire. I figured I'm not the only person who knows a little Spanish and that most people would know it was a joke. 
Now let's get to the part where Shelby says the school has no students who pray as part of their day,
"This includes, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Mormons and other groups mentioned in the article."
Since children of other faiths don't require separate places to pray during the day and Muslims are the only adherents who pray as many as five times a day, his reference to other religions is immaterial. People of other faiths don't have to go to another room--provided by the school by the way--and pray, therefore this is a moot point.
And here's where we get to it. Shelby confirms that the district has provided a spot at the school to pray.
Four years ago, Rigler did have two brothers who asked permission to pray during their lunch during Ramadan. The school did give them a quiet space to use; they missed no instructional time to do so and only prayed once a day.
The people we spoke to about it confirmed these things but not when. That Shelby's example happened four years ago is interesting but not material. That the school provided the space to pray is the material point. That they prayed only during Ramadan is helpful but not material. The fact that they prayed "once a day" is of no material value.
What is material is this: The school district provided a place for children of one religion to pray during school hours. My understanding is the school actually stored the equipment (prayer rugs etc) to help them do it. Matt doesn't take up this concern.
Personally, I think there should be more prayer in school. I believe that this same accommodation would NOT occur for children of other faiths. Indeed, the ACLU and other groups have seen to that. The dockets of many courts are peppered with cases fighting just such unequal treatment.
Perhaps it is this last point that Shelby is most concerned about. We spoke on the program with an expert in establishment clause cases using the information we were given by the folks who confirmed this.
Ken Klukowski is quoted on the original blog post:
Klukowski says case law regarding Muslim prayer and other considerations hasn't caught up with the real world on this issue but says this situation is, "completely inconsistent with how federal courts have treated other religious groups especially Christian." Not only can you not have Christian prayer in school but you can't even have a moment of silence because it was "intended to help facilitate prayer"-- a violation of the establishment clause according to a Supreme Court decision.
He believes cases like this and others involving special accommodations for Muslim students, for instance separate foot washing sinks in school, need to have a full, frank judicial reconsideration to put all religions on the same footing. He believes if these students were Christian or Orthodox Jew they would not be given a separate room in which to pray during school hours.

36 comments:

  1. I'd love to hear the ACLU and gubmint people explain just why it is we don't also have Separation of Mosque and State, since Separation of Church and State seems to say no Bibles or Public Prayers, especially in schools.

    Any takers, Portland elected peeps?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Akram Shami, a retired bank security manager who volunteers at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles said in a 2007 interview, “We pray to God, we worship God, and we recite verses from the Koran.” He also said his faith allows prayers to be combined at a later time if necessary.

    CS Monitor, Public schools grapple with Muslim prayer

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  3. I think that's interesting, Lew. I guess the schools are making sure the Muslim students become most devout so they provide the most opportunities available.

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  4. So, did either of you call or write any of the Portland SD or school administration before raising this issue?

    And I find it a bit odd that the administrator 'interrupts' HS classes 5x a day. Even at middle school, Muslim students walk in and out quietly.

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  5. Did you bother to actually read, Basil?

    Or just jump on the headline?

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  6. Giles...?

    'We' didn't "raise the issue". Had PPS treated this exactly as they've treated Christian students ( there wouldn't BE an 'issue' now -would- there? )

    Besides, what would be the point of even reaching out to them for comment or forbid an explanation? How many times, how many ways and days are we supposed to endure unsupported "You conservatives just don't "get it" DO you!?" non-explanation explanations?

    However 'quietly', it's a distraction to the other non-Muslim students. Are the teachers supposed to suspend the lesson until they return, hit rewind or 'deprive' the Muslim students of their education by refusing to review? This is just silly.

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  7. That quote is from the dad of a student whose class was constantly interrupted. As I say in the piece we confirmed details with the school and district.

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  8. Victoria,

    Thank you. It's not like between texting, cell phones, passing-period romances and boy's room tomfoolery there aren't 'enough' distractions to explain away a poor report card. ( We need 'more'? )

    My point more broadly is that, corroborating virtually any matter in dispute w/ the Left becomes yet another exercise in futility. You'll get talking points, statements, opinions and counter-arguments but seldom if ever actual answers to bonafide questions.

    When that fails.., "I won" or some derivation thereof is sure to follow.

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  9. -As I say in the piece we confirmed details with the school and district.-

    Really?

    I see 'a relative' and 'a parent'

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  10. Poor Basil/Giles.

    Had you clicked the link I provided from 2007 above, you would have seen comments from school officials in California.

    This is an issue that has been ongoing.

    I currently have a question to Vancouver School District regarding the issue and will wait and see what, if any reply I receive.

    You might do well to step outside of your new weather underground role once in a while.

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  11. Lew attempts something -2007 above, you would have seen comments from school officials in California.-

    VT claims that she confirmed and said she wrote that.

    Where?

    And the article is about a school in Portland in 2010; so the relevance of a California school in 2007 seems more than a bit off-track.

    And that you choose to be argumentative and insulting rather than even attempt a modicum of logical support rather indicates a lack of substantive detail available for your POV.

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  12. And, that 'pray five times a day in school' seems a bit off. Might want to fact check that one...

    Sorry, but I've worked in too many districts and schools to even start to believe an administrative person walks HS kids 5x a day to and from prayer and interrupts class to 'apologize for an interruption' their arrival. Kids walk in and out of class for bathroom, notes to go to the office, etc daily. There would be no need for what your parent claims.

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  13. Standard Left S.O.P:

    1) Ignore question. This amply exhibits -you- are the person in authority here!

    2) Say/spin that you'll be making a "statement" when it's appropriate and/or "have all the 'facts' ". Translation? ( We're so caught up in our own little world we really, truly weren't expecting a backlash of any kind? ) When we have our talking points/orders in a row, we'll let you know.

    3) Ignore the question.

    4) Answer the question -with- a question!

    5) Confuse the issue in question w/ everything from WMD's to the Kennedy Assasination. Bonus pts. for crafting GWB into the response.

    6) Make everything a raaacial issue where and whenever possible?

    Yeah, like we 'need' feedback from the damned school admin's. They did what they did and there's not a damned thing we can do about it.

    Let me ask YOU something? Given this is a steep departure from established norms, why the hell didn't the SCHOOL check w/ the parents first? Well b/c we already know the answer to that. It's easier to as for forgiveness than PERMISSION now isn't it!?

    That's # 7.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yep, you're right. I'm sorry. The verification from school officials was lost in a rework of the piece. School officials AND the school district spokesman confirmed this. I'll put it in the piece.

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  15. Nope. Writing. Proof. Post a screenshot of your email. Or audio. At this point, we have a claim you checked, we have a commenter claiming I can't read when it wasn't there, and now all we have is you claim of confirmation.

    A: I haven't been a school that provided any of those items. Nothing beyond a quiet classroom during a teacher's prep period.

    B: I'm pretty sure they aren't praying 5x a day in school hours.

    C: Odd you couldn't quote and name the official.

    D: That doesn't cover your parent's HS claims

    E: Do you feel you have enough to start a formal complaint to the district or to have made contact with ACLU (or other organization) to provide the legal wherewithal to pursue it?

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  16. Matt Shelby, the school administrator spokesman. Good enough.
    I don't have an email of "proof." I have a phone call and they didn't want to go on the air. Reporters do this all the time or don't you believe this? You're holding our blog to higher standards of journalism than the newspapers, radio news, and television news. THat's interesting. I'll make sure I have Matt send me an email outlining his response next time. Will that satisfy you, or will you continue to deny this story?
    ARe you a denier? ;-)

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  17. You know, maybe ERic has real time notes from the conversation. That holds up in court all the time. Maybe not for you, though...
    Probably not.

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  18. When you get the zero to name all sources I'll do it, too. Fair enough?

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  19. Victoria, don't waste your time with Giles/Basil or let him distract you.

    He is a professional troll well-known for disrupting comments and spamming the Columbian comments section with his leftist tripe.

    The New Weather Underground rides again, doesn't it, Giles/Basil?

    ReplyDelete
  20. How did you find that out Lew?

    ReplyDelete
  21. djsteinb ;

    Lew would rather attempt to name call and insult -troll well-known for -

    rather than attempt a substantive discussion.

    He doesn't like it when I ask for data to support claims.

    About the only thing he has right is that I post at the Columbian as mr_basil_seal.

    And we can talk here or there about what Lew thinks is 'trolling', 'professional', & 'spamming'

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  22. Giles/Basil, you still waiting on your government cheese to go along with your liberal whine?

    dj, a web search by another commenter on the Columbian and shared with all showed that Giles other name posted under, Basil Seal, is a prominent participant of the New Weather Underground.

    That, and if you peruse the comments sections, particularly letters to the editor, you will left-winged spam by the droves from, guess who?

    He's also quite clueless on many matters, but excellent at throwing up smoke screens to promote whatever the left-wing agenda du jour is.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Lew decides to not be substantive and just do personal attacks.

    -prominent participant of the New Weather Underground.-

    Wow, I'm a weatherman now~~~~~


    -quite clueless on many matters,-

    -you will left-winged spam by-

    Yet Lew won't bring anything to that table to disprove what I say there.

    Why not bring something substantive here or there rather than the attempts at personal attacks, name calling, and insulting in efforts to sidetrack the conversation.

    Sounds like Newsbusters and freep.


    Now, tell us what you know about the "New Weather Underground".

    And hey, you forgot to mention that Ray, your source for the "New Weather Underground" also claims I am a communist or a socialist or something else he can't tell the differences between. Great source to base your personal attacks on.....


    Sigh.......

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ray? A little slip there, son?

    I've never met Ray nor exchanged emails with him.

    And you, complaining about substantive?

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Let us know where to send the government cheese.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Glad you could find another way to avoid anything substantive.

    So, no support for the 5 x a day in school prayer.

    No support for escorting HS kids 5x a day from prayer.

    No support for the claims of supplies.

    No support for the claims of a "special chapel".

    Just a series of attempts at personal attacks, name calling, and insults.

    And we note you can't even explain what the "New Weather Underground" is......

    Or even attempt to support your other claims you make.

    Oh well, people will see the quality of the argument coming from your pov and will use that to help inform their votes. So keep it up and help the progressive movement.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This human "giles" ID would make a lot more hay out of his argument if he would do a little investigating on his own and either confirm what has been reported or debunk it. Since he/she/it has not taken that tack, it is then evident that all he/she/it wants to do is be an annoying troll. And a feckless one at that.

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  27. Sorry Cecil,

    I'm not the one making the claims.

    Nor am I the one not providing credible evidence to support those claims.

    Yet, when I call VT on that lack of journalistic integrity, I'm supposed to be the one disproving her claims?

    She's doing a fine job of that herself....

    You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. attrib. Moynihan

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." C. Sagan

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  28. Does confirming the story with school officials qualify as confirming the story? In Giles world apparently not. You know, when I came up as a cub reporter THAT qualified as confirming a story. Not so much anymore, apparently.

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  29. You are making extraordinary claims.

    And not providing much as 'proof' beyond your claim of confirming.

    And what 'proof' do you have of the HS students being escorted 5x a day and the administrator apologizing?

    Yet another bit of extraordinary claims.

    I wonder if you are trying more to 'rile up the base' who will take your claims at face value, or if you are trying to present a legitimate issue. Presenting quality evidence would strengthen your case with those with a more skeptical eye on how story is being presented.

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  30. What strikes me most is how distracted everyone has become by focusing on whether or not classes are interrupted 5 times a day.
    The school has a dedicated room for prayers from one religion. The school also provides the necessary accoutrements for the practice of said religion.
    Such a fuss has been made of even whispering anything remotely Christian in schools, that one would expect similar revulsion at the introduction of another religion.
    Not so.
    Equal treatment under the law? Under the bus.

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  31. -focusing on whether or not classes are interrupted 5 times a day.-

    That was just one of the unsupported claims.

    And a quick look at the scheduled times for prayer shows how baseless that claim was.

    Just as a claim of confirmed was first lost in rewrite then expected to assumed with an ipse dixit proclamation.

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  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  33. You use my name to support your inaccurate information and you delete my attempt to correct the record. And you wonder why you have a hard time getting interviews with PPS.

    I’ll state the facts one more time for you.

    The reader board in the school photo advertises: days with no school in November, parent teacher conferences and book fair.

    Rigler School does not have any students that receive accommodations to pray during the school day. This includes students from any religion.

    The school does not have any space or equipment devoted to any type of religious practice.

    Four years ago, the school did have two brothers who asked permission to pray at lunch during Ramadan. The school did give them a quiet space to use; they missed no instructional time and only prayed once a day

    Those are the facts.

    Please remind me when we spoke about this. I still don’t recall.

    ReplyDelete
  34. You use my name to support your inaccurate information and you delete my attempt to correct the record. And you wonder why you have a hard time getting interviews with PPS.

    I’ll state the facts one more time for you.

    The reader board in the school photo advertises: days with no school in November, parent teacher conferences and book fair.

    Rigler School does not have any students that receive accommodations to pray during the school day. This includes students from any religion.

    The school does not have any space or equipment devoted to any type of religious practice.

    Four years ago, the school did have two brothers who asked permission to pray at lunch during Ramadan. The school did give them a quiet space to use; they missed no instructional time and only prayed once a day

    Those are the facts.

    Please remind me when we spoke about this. I still don’t recall.

    Matt Shelby
    Public Information Officer
    Portland Public Schools

    ReplyDelete