Kersten’s Arabic-school source: more to the story

Conservative Strib columnist Katherine Kersten kicked up a storm last week in her campaign against an Inver Grove Heights Arabic charter school, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA). Kersten claims the public school engages in questionable Muslim religious practices. The school hasn’t allowed her to visit, but Kersten found an eyewitness: a substitute teacher who confirmed many of the allegations. State officials have since said they will increase inspections and will contact federal officials about the school’s sponsors.

One data point Kersten omitted: the substitute, Amanda Getz, is a Republican political and education activist. As Getz wrote two years ago, the self-described conservative has a special interest in “education reform and work to improve our country’s public schools.”

Does that obliterate Getz’s credibility? No; it might even enhance it in some eyes. But Getz was not some naïf walking into a charter school; it’s unlikely the politically active conservative teacher was ignorant of Kersten’s longstanding anti-TIZA campaign when she accepted the assignment. Getz’s affiliations may have colored her views, and Strib readers deserved to know about it.

(Hat tip to Carla Bates, who originally posted the Getz link on the Minneapolis Public Schools Parents Forum. Bates is a DFL candidate for the Minneapolis School Board.)

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Ed Day on 04/15/2008 - 11:32 pm.

    While I applaud Kersten’s effort to keep religion out of public schools and agree with the investigation, I always thought she was a strong proponent of school vouchers, which would effectively funnel taxpayer dollars into religious schools.

  2. Submitted by Tony Wagner on 04/16/2008 - 01:14 pm.

    You are correct: if Kersten’s public education reforms (including vouchers) were adopted, then TIZA could legitimately operate as an Islamic private school with public funding, and Kersten would have no basis for protest.

    I think her aim here is, if teaching Christianity isn’t currently allowed in public schools, then neither should the teaching of Islam. And I agree. But it is ironic that the promotion of a school like TIZA probably weakens her case for vouchers in the eyes of many.

  3. Submitted by Tony Wagner on 04/15/2008 - 08:08 pm.

    The observations of a political partisan teacher (which Getz appears to be) in this environment are likely to be different than a non-partisan, politically unaffiliated teacher. Did she just happen to notice the things she reported? Or was she a bit more actively looking for them? I wouldn’t infer that she previously shared Kersten’s anti-TIZA bias, but simply sharing the general views on religion and public education as her declared political party would lead to greater scrutiny of the TIZA school.

    I still think the concerns and complaints have merit, and I’m glad there is an investigation. It seems like Brauer is giving short shrift to this, probably due to Kersten’s involvement, but I think this is one of Brauer’s least-biased posts on the subject.

  4. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 04/15/2008 - 10:02 am.

    What does this have to do with the merits of Amanda Getz’s observations? They are either right or they are not. Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) is either cheating the Minnesota taxpayers or they are not. If there are violations of law, somebody should be held criminally and legally liable, e.g., grand theft by fraud, misappropriation of public moneys, etc.

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 06/11/2008 - 01:46 pm.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/06/11/cstillwell.DTL&hw=TIZA&sn=001&sc=1000

    Islam in America’s public schools: Education or indoctrination?
    Cinnamon Stillwell
    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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