About Islam and its role in history and modern civilization. The Weekly Standard has a thorough review
of some revised textbook standards that will determine what students
learn, and two of the three states featured have made important and
impressive changes. The third is “stuck in a pre-9/11 mindset.”

In the past, American textbooks were prone to two great
pitfalls: Either they dealt with Islam superficially or they presented
it in the manner preferred and promoted by well-funded defenders of
Islamic extremism. A hallmark of that latter view is an emphasis on the
unity of Islam, which is portrayed as simple, monolithic, and benign.
The wide range of belief and practice between Sunni, Shia, and Sufi
Islam, to name only the best-known variations, is downplayed, and the
problems of Islam, especially violent jihad, are simply left out. Some
of the current efforts at revising textbooks successfully avoid these
mistakes.

Those would be Texas and Florida. California is the “regrettable” exception.

The revisions are necessary to broaden and improve the study of Western civilization and culture. Political correctness aside…

contested issues should be examined for an understanding of relations between Muslims and the rest of the world.

This is a detailed analysis by an author who knows the subject well.
It’s well worth sticking with the piece all the way through, and even
following some of the websites listed there for public review of
textbook standards in these states.

Because…

Americans, especially young Americans, need accurate
information about Islam, as well as other aspects of global affairs.
The more critical attitudes introduced in Texas and Florida will
doubtless elicit dissatisfaction from Islamists. But Texas and Florida
are wise to teach students about crucial past and present interactions
between Muslims and non-Muslims, including conflicts between them and
even among Muslims. California treats Islam as just one more hue in the
multicultural rainbow. The country’s educators would do better to
follow the new, sensible, and critical path blazed by the Lone Star
State, which is intelligently tackling the issues of Islamic
fundamentalism and terrorism, than to continue the habits still
prevalent in an intellectually as well as fiscally weakened California.

These books will be rolling out between 2010 through 2013, and “will
shape the content of public instruction for several years to come.” We
need this. And we need it to be accurate and well informed.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....