Texas Parents Question Required Arabic Classes

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A Texas school district plans to make Arabic studies a requirement for students, upsetting some parents who said they were unaware of the proposed changes.

The Mansfield Independent School District in Mansfield, Texas, was awarded a $1.3 million federal grant last year as part of the Department of Education's Foreign Language Assistance Program. Mansfield Independent is one of only five districts in the country to be awarded the grant.

The Department of Education calls Arabic -- along with Mandarin-- "languages of the future," and encourages teaching on the subjects.

School officials said students would "be at an advantage in an increasingly diverse and economically global society" by taking Arabic studies.

Under the plan, Arabic classes will be mandatory at Cross Timbers Intermediate School and Kenneth Davis Elementary School. The program will be optional for students at T. A. Howard Middle School and Summit High School.

Some parents expressed concern about the new curriculum, saying they had not been shown what information will be taught. Others wondered if Islam would be included in the lesson plans.

The district assured the classes will not focus on Islam, but instead on the Arabic language and culture.

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