|Irving Independent School District Superintendent Parra with a student who built a rocket arsenal but does not have an Islamic name so it's all good...|
For background, here is what happened to 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed in school this week. Click here.
and now an open letter...
Jose L. Parra, Superintendent
Irving Independent School District
2621 W. Airport Freeway
Irving, TX 75062
RE: Ahmed Mohamed
On your district's website, there is a very nice photograph of you with a young man I presume is a student in your district. You are shown admiring an electronics project at a science fair, with a student wearing a shirt and tie talking to you about his invention. You are holding what looks like a battery or perhaps a circuit box. The project involves model rockets. This seems like an environment where Ahmed Mohamed would thrive and be celebrated.
Your district has made national news today with the story of his treatment at MacArthur High on Monday of this week. It is too late to avert a profoundly awful experience and a painful stain on Irving's reputation, but the process of apologizing and making amends to this student and his family is important not only for your district but for our country as a whole.
This is about a couple of things. First and foremost, this is about stigmatizing Islam. This situation would have been handled differently if this boy had been named George or Esteban. Educators must take a lead in breaking the hateful assumption that anyone who observes the muslim faith is inherently suspicious or more inclined toward terrorism.
Secondly, we must vindicate reason. I have read every account I can find about this incident and cannot locate a single observation indicating anything that sounds suspicious. The child designed and executed a home-made clock and brought it to his school where he might have expected his teachers to praise his ingenuity - perhaps send him to a science fair like the one in that photograph of you.
Instead, teachers and police responded irrationally, and the young Mr. Mohamed has been given a painful practicum in cultural ignorance.
This is now national news and there has to be a correction that affirms an appreciation for cultural diversity, acceptance of muslims as part of the American fabric, and celebrates a child's scientific interest. I beg you, let us be reading about that by the end of the week.