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Viewpoint: What intimidation looks like

By Eden Penn, city of Hudson

Yes, Citizens of the St. Croix Valley do intimidate and harass, but claim that they do not. Let's look at some evidence. In a recent submission to this section, a few teens in our community's school system were told to " the effeminized adults that are mentoring you that you don't need a safe space or therapy session." Some adults were given a jab there too. The following illustrates how Citizens for the St. Croix Valley have impacted all of our Hudson schools' kids, and the tactics they use concern me.

On their website, Citizens for the St. Croix Valley do a decent job documenting what pertains to them, without adding much commentary or editorializing. There's hundreds and hundreds of pages of curated public records to read through that share sequestered information the way they want you to perceive it. I've spent time combing through much of it and found one thing in particular that jumps out at me. It's the manner in which they've requested some of that information.

As a parent in our school system, I received an email last February (Feb. 23, 2017) about concerns of possible teachings of Sharia Law and Islam in the classroom. This email was sent out district-wide as a result of Facebook postings and phone calls made to the school district suggesting that students were receiving instruction from teachers on Sharia Law and that students were being encouraged to convert to Islam. As found buried in the Citizens for the St. Croix Valley website, the first written correspondence on the subject from their group to our school district includes a series of questions from its organizers.

Here they are verbatim.

1. Which class is involved regarding Islam?

2. Were students required to memorize or recite Islamic prayers?

3. Which curricula (curriculum) was used?

4. Were there any required field trips to other activities to Mosques or Islamic centers?

5. Was Sharia Law portrayed in a positive or negative manner? Was Jihad portrayed in positive or negative manner?

6. What is the teacher's name that taught this class? Were there other people allowed to make presentations or teach?

7. How many students were involved?

8. What is the process for textbook approvals? Were parents involved in this choice?

9. Were parents notified that the political system of Islam would be presented in class?

10. If Islamic prayers were required to be recited/memorized, what other religious prayers were required to be recited/memorized?" (Feb. 23, 202017)

That's what our school officials had to contend with. All together these questions paint a picture of fear and paranoia and intimidate through the overwhelming nature of what's being asked all at once. In response to a supporter of Citizens of the St. Croix Valley, it was NOT that the "the issue was that someone was actually teaching Muslims/Sharia Law are good and Americans should embrace them!" In fact, a parent who voiced concern directly to the school system at that time said "Never once did I think the district was proselytizing or indoctrinating or promoting a certain religion." (public records found on Citizens website, March 5, 2017)

There's been no evidence to support that teaching staff in our school system did anything other than teach a world religion during a world history lesson in what has been referred to as "a factual and balanced manner."

We all benefit from the Wisconsin Public Records Law (WI Stats. 19.31-19.39) that mandates government entities comply with a public records release request. But while Citizens for the St. Croix leveraged for every piece of information, they rallied around an evaluation of anything relating to Islam and elimination of what was deemed as "controversial curriculum" (few items identified, listed on Citizens website). This has brought a revision of how religion, politics and human development lessons are managed and presented in our Hudson schools today.