This is today's typical American Classroom -
This is one page from a 13 page booklet given to first grade students at Clegern Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma this 2013 school year. You can view the packet in its entirety if you so wish, just as it came home (accidentally) with a student, just as I scanned it into my computer.
This is troubling.
First; elementary students should be going to school to have their heads packed with math facts, English grammar facts, basic American history facts and science facts. The younger the child, the more easily facts are absorbed. No one can think critically without an ability to memorize facts and have them on hand. Critical thinking skills amount to nothing if there is no foundation upon which to think.
Second; because of their rapidly growing brains, young (elementary) children are much more susceptible to influences outside the sphere of education - those that belong in the category of ideology. I wrote a blog about this specific issue and how it effected one of my own children.
Last; while I believe World Religions to be an important topic of study, it should not be introduced until 11th or 12th grade - or college - in deference to the first two reasons. A study of World Religions allows the student to assimilate their world view and the knowledge base imparted them by their parents into a larger framework. Younger students have not enough world view to master this ability, nor to place the information studied in any real context, therefore, studying world religions merely creates an opportunity for introduction of ideology.
Though secularists and atheists will disagree, the religion upon which American public schooling was based (Judeo-Christian; see any McGuffey reader) is the only religion for which I would make opposite argument.
History shows without a doubt, this country was colonized by Christians for the, "advancement of the Christian faith." Though there will be arguments again and again by secularists (none that are born out by even a mere cursory study of the art found in our nation's capitol), the Founders of this country at least established America as a nation in which the religion of its citizenry would never be prescribed by its government not as a nation in which religion and government were to be separated. America was not established as a secular nation. The facts that over 75% of Americans self-identify as Christian and, of all the countries in the world America still ranks as the country containing the most self-identified Christians, should dispense with the notion that America is not a Christian nation first and foremost.
Judeo-Christian prayer was removed from schools in 1962 as consequence of a lawsuit by New York parents. Bible reading was prohibited in schools in 1965 due to a lawsuit filed by Madeline Murray O'Hair. Neither of these incidents mirrored the religious makeup of the citizenry of America, just the amount of judicial activism allowed within the Supreme Court.
The beauty of America is that everyone living here has the opportunity to worship as he or she desires - even to educate others about their religion. In addition, any member of any religious group in America has the ultimate right to express their religion by creating a private school in which to instruct their youth - including those religions of atheism and Islam. The study of Islam, however, is simply not appropriate for K-10 public education and certainly not in light of the context of American public schools.