Parents of students at Greenville, Virginia’s Riverheads High School were shocked by a recent assignment given in World Geography class.

Classroom teacher, Cheri Laporte, asked students to practice “calligraphy” by copying the Muslim statement of faith, also known as the shahada, which translates as:

“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Recitation of the shahada is a fundamental step in conversion to Islam.

According to parents, students were not informed of the translation or of the specific meaning of the Arabic text the students were being asked to copy. In addition, parents confirm that female students were invited to don Muslim apparel and subsequently were photographed in costume by the teacher. (Reportedly, an administrator has since disposed of the photos.)

A post-assignment emergency meeting held with the teacher, a parent, and schools administration yielded the following additional information:

  • Teacher Laporte was aware of the translation of the text assigned and was unapologetic over the assignment itself
  • Apparel representing other religions was not presented in the lesson
  • Teacher Laporte previously had circulated a Koran in the classroom, but had intentionally declined to make a Bible available because “all of the students already have read or seen a Bible”
  • School administration confirmed that this lesson was not in the Augusta School Division’s approved curriculum for World Geography

After the meeting, one parent responded in reference to the teacher:

I do not trust her to teach my son and regardless of the outcome he will not sit in her classroom. I am in the process of forgiving her but I do not trust her.

Riverheads High School Principal, Max Lowe, did not directly acknowledge an inquiry requesting confirmation of the incident, clarification of policy, and disciplinary measures, if any, taken against Ms. Laporte.

A community meeting of concerned parents is scheduled for further discussion of the assignment and its aftermath.

197 COMMENTS

  1. Aimee Ford Bragg, you seem not to understand the difference between teaching kids what to believe and teaching what other people believe, which is teaching them about the world around them, which is educating them, which is exactly what the teacher is supposed to be doing. It’s up to the school and not to you to decide what’s taught in geography class. Knowledge of other cultures is much more important than geography alone.

    Also, the First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That is the so-called separation of church, and you can see it says nothing whatsoever about not teaching school kids about religion.

  2. How is it that you people can pass judgement based on what the media has made public? I mean really! Haven't any of you ever heard the saying "Believe only half of what you see and NONE of what you HEAR"
    Seriously, you're all screaming "fire her" when you don't know all the details.
    I guess if the media said it….it must be true. I call BS. Put yourself in her shoes before you pass judgement. Actually, don't pass judgement at all. Its not your place to judge, it's God's place.
    Wake up people. We are creating our own caos. Just like the caos of the rebel flag. One person said it stood for "hate". It got blown out of proportion and now the flag is banned.
    When will this insanity end????

  3. (Reportedly, an administrator has since disposed of the photos.)

    What was so incriminating about them? If there was no ulterior motive and Laporte was just innocently teaching umm… geography? Why not keep the pics? They would help you make your case, School District.

    In other news, this incident is Exhibit A of why teachers’ unions have to be disintegrated.

  4. Leftists don't hate religion, they hate you and your religion.

    The greatest mistake this country ever made was allowing the educational profession to be taken over by the Left.

  5. Kimberly Herndon in school, as students, we have no rights. 2nd, she's a teacher. It's her job to teach, right? We learn about other religions in our world history classes. What she had them translate was a text from a holy book, in the language that it's written in.. That makes sense, doesn't it?

  6. Anthony Bryant The arguement is simple. The current (but incorrect) understanding of separation of church and state was not followed by this teacher. She 1. Showed a clear bias toward a specific religion and required students to participate. 2. She did so deceptively (intent) 3. There was no justifiable educational objective. As for the "practicing caligraphy" project, that is nonsense because calligraphy is a writing style, not an ancient language. (Hebrew could have been used writing Hannukah, shalom, etc. or ancient Greek with works like karos, euanglios, etc. could have been used and been actually educational and less offensive (words, not statements of belief)!) It is obvious that she was pushing a religious angenda under the guise of education.

  7. Elizabeth Swinson Wade According to the article, she did not tell the students the translation (if you are teaching the language, what sense does that make?). Second, why call it a "caligraphy" lesson (calligraphy is not a language, but a writing/font style). She never claimed to be teaching arabic. She was clearly teaching Islam. Your attitude toward her is blinding your objectivity.

  8. Brian Johnson She was not teaching a foreign language. (You have to give the translation to do that!) Teaching the "complexity" of it could be better served with Chinese or Japanese. Ancient Hebrew or Greek could be used and basic words used instead of a religious doctrinal statement to provide the writing practice. She chose to use a religious doctrinal statement and cultural behaviors mandated by a religion (dress code). Her bad decision.

  9. Sierra Southers According to the article, she did not provide a Bible (Jewish and Christian), which is available in the orginal languages if that is what she was actually doing. Doesn't sound like it, though.

  10. Lara She had them write the basic doctrinal belief of Islam and you say she wasn't teaching Islam? Ancient Hebrew (Masoretic) and ancient Greek are both better examples she could have used for the copying, but even that would be ridiculous because calligraphy is a style, not a language. She "intentionally declined" making a Bible (even in the original languages, which are readily available), and Islamic dress (dictated by the religion) was the only dress style presented.

  11. Sierra Southers learning parts of religion is important, but would you have a Jewish person copy a swastika,or a Muslim John 3:16, how about a satanist copy the Lord's prayer? A line was crossed and she should be fired immediately. Learning about crreds and basics is ok,writing a symbol you don't understand is not.

  12. All I'm going to say is if that were one of us in a Muslim country as a teacher and we told muslim students to write out Our Lords prayer from our Bible they would behead us !!!!!so for this teacher to do that over here she's got to go!!! She was violating these student by not telling them what they were writing!!! THAT WAS sneaky and beyond unprofessional of her pushing a religion on students that knew nothing about what they were wtiting that were my child in her class I would have smacked her face with our Holy bible….!!!

  13. Then stand your ground. A "call to arms " could happen again. So attend the next school board meeting and have your say with your neighbors that I am sure will also be in attendance. Don't take this assault. Fight back with your words as long as they are appropriate. And fly the red white and blue while you still can . Honor those who protect us and allways have.

  14. John Morgan, if the fact that some people use a particular religious text to justify evil means that the religious text is a form of pollution, then since Robert Dear used the Bible to justify killing people at the abortion clinic, the Bible is a form of pollution, and American schools shouldn’t teach anything about it either. One thing kids go to school for is to learn to reason. By the time they graduate from high school, or even from middle school, they should be able to see how illogical your reasoning is. They should also come to understand that when people use ridiculous logic to justify demonizing something, they don’t actually care if what’s true or false, they just want to demonize.

  15. I’m stunned by this story and the reaction by parents. Some high school kids were asked to draw squiggly lines they don’t care about and won’t ever remember and people are seriously considering this a threat to their personal belief system? Do people freak out when their kids learn about communism or socialism in a history or government class? I thought people in our country had better sense than this.

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