Washington, DC | August 20, 2007 | http://www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply troubled by the relentless criticism by conservative columnists, the New York Post and New York Sun regarding the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA).
ADC President Hon. Mary Rose Oakar said, “ADC is concerned that this seems to be yet another instance in which anything Arab is stigmatized and held to a different standard. ADC is deeply troubled by the persistent labeling of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans as “terrorists” or “terrorist sympathizers,” a pattern which is reflected in some commentary surrounding the school. This is a form of incitement that is not only irresponsible, but dangerous and leads stereotyping of the community. We should not let these irrational voices derail the opening of the school.”
When plans for KGIA were introduced New York School Chancellor Joel I. Klein rightly believed that idea for a school that taught Arabic language and culture was appropriate and suitable for the city’s system of dual-language programs. The city currently has more than 60 similar language and culture schools including French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Greek, Korean, among others. There is also strong support for the school from Mayor Bloomberg, the NY Education Department, and former Mayor Edward Koch.
However, criticism from conservative columnists, several officials, The NY Post, and The NY Sun has been increasingly strident and bigoted since the school was announced in February. The KGIA is opening in partnership with New Visions for Public Schools, which is a nonprofit group that has helped to create many of New York City’s new smaller schools. The plan for the school is to offer standard college preparatory course, with the addition of daily Arabic language instruction and a focus on international relations. KGIA is intended to open in the fall and initially it will offer only sixth grade class but will expand yearly until it includes grades 6-12. It will be housed in an existing middle school, a practice common in the New York school system. More…