SAN DIEGO – The San Diego school board’s anti-Islamophobia campaign kicked off at Logan Elementary School Thursday with lessons from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
CAIR spokesman Hanif Mohebi told the mostly Latino seventh- and eighth-graders he was just like them once, and Muslim bullying is the same thing as Latino bullying, according to KPBS.
“Where you’re sitting, I used to sit there,” Mohebi said. “And without my beard, I used to look exactly like you, and people used to think I’m Mexican. So I’ve heard all the negative stuff that they will say. And it hurts.”
The district-sponsored presentation came with pamphlets that read “Know your rights as a Muslim youth in school,” and tips on handling deescalating Muslim bullying situations.
It’s part of the board’s promise to the people in response to “heated campaign rhetoric” and pressure from CAIR and its followers to address alleged rampant bullying of Muslim students. The Muslim advocacy group pointed to a years old study it produced that contends 55 percent of Muslim students in California have faced bullying or discrimination, most of which was verbal, KPBS reports.
Basically, CAIR conducted its own survey and results favored its mission. Mohebi used the report as evidence to build a campaign to call on the school board to “address Islamophobia” and bullying, which the school board approved in July 2016. Six months later, Mohebi is in schools in person to talk about the alleged bullying and promote Islam, according to the news site.
The message seems to be sinking in. Alfonso Ruiz, 14, now understands there’s a lot of people who don’t like him, and Muslims and Latinos are on the same side.
“To all the people who bully Muslims or Latinos, stop it. Treat them with respect. Even though they’re from a different race or religion, they’re still human beings,” the eighth-grader said.
Ruiz was the only student who spoke with KPBS. Others in a photo from Mohebi’s talk appeared less than enthralled.
The cost of the anti-Islamophobia campaign is unclear, but officials are expected to expand it across the district later this year.
In the meantime, superintendent Cindy Marten is trying to figure out how to come up with $124.4 million to cover the projected deficit for 2017-18, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
And it sounds like some people will lose their jobs.
According to the Union-Tribune:
The San Diego Unified administration recommended in December, when the deficit was projected at $117 million, cuts in the following areas: $44 million in cuts to the central office, $21 million in cuts to campus support services, including maintenance and custodial; and $52 million in last-ditch cuts to schools. …
Even before the deficit grew to $124 million, the San Diego County Office of Education sent a letter to the district expressing doubts about whether enough cuts could be made to meet the required 2 percent budget reserve.
Meanwhile, 4 percent raises authorized for teachers and other employees will account for $28 million of the deficit next year.