Diary

A Random WTF Moment, Courtesy of NYC Teachers

So this morning, I get an email from one of my almae matres advertising one of those lecture events for alumni. The idea is to get us into an auditorium, listen to some speaker talk about some topic or another, then hit us up for donations afterwards at cocktail hour.

I won’t be going, since I’m nowhere near NYC these days, but the email caught my interest for a copule of reasons. Here is the email below; see if you can catch the WTF moment.

NYU School of Law invites you to the eighteenth Annual Rose Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence Lecture to be presented by Debbie Almontaser. Her lecture is titled, “Arab Culture and Islam: Challenges in Diversity Education.” Ms. Almontaser is the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the first public school in the country to offer a curriculum emphasizing the study of the Arabic language and culture. She is a 20-year veteran of the NYC public school system, where she has taught special education, inclusion, trained teachers in literacy, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity advisor and trainer.

The NYC Board of Education did announce in April that the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a publicly funded school in New York City, will be shut down for the prosaic reason that it couldn’t attract too many students. But not to worry; the school itself — and all those teachers union jobs — will continue as a high school, rather than as a middle school.

The whole controversy around a taxpayer funded school focusing on Arab culture — that is inseparable from the religion which has formed that culture — has quieted down, if not completely disappeared. Hence, I suppose it’s time for Ms. Almontaser to go speak to a bunch of wealthy lawyer-types to decry the institutional racism, xenophobia, and anti-Arab bias that have conspired together to bring down the gem of NYC’s public school system.

That is, of course, her right. And it is the right of NYU to sponsor and host such a lecture.

Those aren’t the WTF moments.

The WTF moment for me was:

She is a 20-year veteran of the NYC public school system, where she has taught special education, inclusion, trained teachers in literacy, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity advisor and trainer.

WIN THE FUTURE??? Did I read that right? Maybe the PR flacks wrote that wrong? Did that just say this woman had a 20 year career in the NYC public school system training teachers in literacy (among other useful things, of course, like teaching “inclusion” whatever that means)?

I suppose it’s the business of New Yorkers to hire whomever they’d like to be teachers in their public schools, but hiring people who can’t read to teach your youngsters to read, write, and do arithmetic is probably… counterproductive, I’m thinking. But hey, may they have joy of such a system.

Not a WTF moment, but a “Hey, I’m really curious moment”, comes immediately after. Seeing as how Ms. Almontaser is a multicultural specialist and diversity advisor… and an observant Muslim by the looks of it… and she works in NYC… how does she manage the inclusion of gays, Jews, and Muslims in the same school? Because whatever that doctrinal interpretation of Islam is, we should export it to Iraq and Afghanistan immediately and fervently.

If she could only explain how she teaches observant Muslim boys to value the diversity of having a gay Jewish classmate, I say she should be strongly considered for a high-level State Department job.

Hmm… maybe I will attend that lecture after all…