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July 18, 2003 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

When the light
shines on her alone...
set her heart ablaze.

references are skewed. The focus on
certain regions, the neglect of others
and the manipulation of perspective
calls into question the objectivity and
expertise of the curriculum's author-
ship."
Among the objections of Stulberg
and numerous other parents were Web
sites that espouse views they say are
anti-American or anti-Israeli.
Marty Liebman, whose daughter will
be a senior at North Farmington High
School, disagreed. "The fact that these
Web sites are available makes this
course more American," he said. "It
makes more sense to expose our chil-
dren to Web sites in the classroom
where they can be fully discussed.
'As an American, I don't always agree
with our government's policy. Well, as
an observant Jew, there are things the
Israeli government does I don't agree
with either, but if I wanted my kids to
hear only one viewpoint, I would've
sent them to parochial school."
Parent Steve Hander, a lawyer for
Daimler-Chrysler who is also on the
board of the New York University
School of Law, said that, in either of
these positions, "if I heard an outpour-
ing from my customers like I heard
here tonight, it would give me pause."
Hander, who also served on the
board of directors at Los Alamos
Laboratories, called the community
members the "stakeholders" of the
Farmington Schools.
"You've heard your stakeholders say
they feel disrespected. There's a great
disconnect here. There are hurt feelings
here.
"This curriculum needs to be fixed.
Don't do it with a Band-Aid," he said,
asking the board to delay implementa-
tion of the international affairs course
for a year.
Hamlet pointed out that any objec-
tivity now in the curriculum was put
there by Cohen, in the course of several
multi-hour conversations with Jerry
Fouchey, the district's director of cur-
riculum.
"I'm not doubting the integrity of
the people who put this curriculum
together," Hantler said. "I'm just saying
they got it wrong."

Improving Communication

During the meeting, Dr. Maxfield

introduced a plan for better communi-
cation on board activities.
His first recommendation was for
the formation of a citizens' committee
on curriculum. He also recommended
the district publish an annual schedule
on the district's Web site and in mail- •
ings to the entire Farmington Schools
community. The schedule would
include:
• dates of board committee meet-
ings, such as the finance committee;
• dates of monthly board meetings
at which the board will consider
reports and updates on specific curric-
ula; and
• dates of monthly board meetings
at which school district committees
will present their reports.
These school district committees
will include the to-be-formed curricu-
lum committee as well as schools of
choice, early childhood education, ath-
letic field study committees and oth-
ers.
The board has received positive
input from several experts in interna-
tional affairs, including University of
Michigan professor David Harris and
Howard Wallach, chair of the Anti-
Defamation League's Michigan
Region, Dr. Maxfield said.
Wallach told the Jewish News, how-
ever, "We did not take a position on
whether or not the curriculum should
be adopted or not be adopted. I never
said there's nothing wrong with the
course. Basically, we made our interest
and concern known."
By concern, Wallach said he did not
mean a specific concern over any part
of the curriculum, but "a generic con-
cern that the course be balanced, be
taught by qualified instructors, with
no political slant."
Wallach, who was not at Tuesday's
meeting, said he offered the ADL as a
resource.
F-PEN members don't consider the
issue dead. They have created a Web
site, wwvv.F PEN. org, which includes
a newsletter, a copy of the interna-
tional affairs curriculum as it now
stands and other documents.
"We came as reasonable people; we
were treated unreasonably," Cohen
said. "These are real issues that deserve
real treatment and that's what we will
be pursuing."

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7/18
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