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Lesson in Islam closes all schools in Virginia county

Is it just me or is it easier to get school canceled now than ever?

The offending lesson was taken from a standard geography workbook, officials say.

Recently, Los Angeles canceled school for all 640,000 students because of a bomb threat. That's a lot of lost free childcare.

Today, all Augusta County, Virginia students are taking the day off because a geography teacher decided students should go home and copy Arabesque calligraphy saying "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah."

Some parents thought the homework was an attempt to convert their children to Islam.

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The teacher, Cheryl LaPorte, said the lesson was instead intended to expose the student to "the artistic complexity of calligraphy."

The local newspaper reports some Christian parents are calling for LaPorte to be fired for "violating children's religious beliefs." However, both the Virginia Department of Education and Superintendent Eric Bond have reviewed the material and found it in line with state standards.

The school system has only 10 percent of minority students, which may explain some of the backlash.

But does it make sense to make students in a public school copy what is known as the shahada, or the Islamic statement of faith? Would it be OK if students were asked to copy the 10 Commandments?

Whatever happened to teaching kids stuff they can use later in life like math and English? Augusta County schools are slightly below the national average on the ACT and SAT , so there's room for improvement in the basics, it seems.

The school system says they've learned a lesson. "A different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future," it said in a released statement.

The online debate between parents, students and former students (who are supportive of the longtime teacher) has grown heated.

"This is so WRONG! There is only ONE GOD and HIS NAME is JESUS!" wrote one parent on Facebook.

Officials fear violence may erupt because of the homework assignment.

Superintendent Bond said the conversation has expanded and he's now receiving email and phone complaints from across the country. Bond said after speaking with Sheriff Randy Fisher they "mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed" but there is there is "no specific threat of harm to students," according to a press release issued Thursday night.

Schools will be closed to extracurricular activities until Monday.

Good thing football season is over.

Related articles:

School scraps scripture from 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

Class work about Islam stirs some Georgia parents’ concern






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