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Eau Claire parents concerned about curriculum

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Some parents in Eau Claire are upset with what is being taught in their schools.

They are claiming third-grade students had to memorize an Islamic prayer.

The superintendent says that is not the case, and the rumors in the community are inaccurate.

Superintendent David Gray says the rumors center around a book called 'Nasreen's Secret School,' which is set in Afghanistan.

The book is part of a curriculum called "Engage New York," which is being implemented at all Eau Claire schools this year.

Some parents though, are already calling for the school to change back to last year's teaching.

"It walks a very gray lines about preaching religion or just exposing [students] to it," said Art Keene, a parent who is concerned about the curriculum.

The so-called "gray line" has to do with this excerpt from 'Nasreen's Secret School': "Please Allah, open her eyes to the world, I prayed as I left her there."

Superintendent Gray says the line is mentioned by the main character's grandmother and students are not being forced to memorize or recite any prayer.

"There is nothing that requires the students to even consider memorizing an Islamic prayer, let alone expecting them to say one or anything else," said Gray.

Sherri Keene is the President of the Eau Claire's Parent Teacher Organization, and feels a little uncomfortable with the book being taught.

"These things shouldn't be brought up, it's supposed to be completely separate between at the school and religion," said Sherri Keene.

Art Keene views the book a little differently than his wife.

"I'm okay with them being exposed to it, but as long as it's balanced, but the problem is the teachers aren't prepared," said Keene.

It's the preparation that's Keene's biggest complaint with the new curriculum.

"The teachers are telling us that they have had no training on how to use this new material. They find the teacher guides very difficult to follow," said Art Keene.

Eau Claire switched to the 'Engage New York' curriculum because Superintendent Gray says test scores were so low.

"We weren't getting the results that we needed," said Gray.

Superintendent Gray is asking parents to hold off on spreading rumors, and says the school system is doing its best.

"Please work with us, we think this is what is best for your kids. But give us a chance to do it, so we can make sure we are doing it right," said Gray.

Some parents want the school to put the current curriculum on hold until teachers can better prepare.

Superintendent Gray says they are working with teachers to support them and address their concerns, but he did not outline a specific plan for any future training.

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