It has become increasingly apparent that the “Red” (Communists, Socialists, Progressives, etc.) and “Green” (Islamic activists, Jihadists, etc.) are collaborating effectively against the “Right” (Constitutionalists, Conservatives, Nationalists, etc.) on political and cultural issues. What is not as well-known, but is at least as troubling, is the collaboration they exhibit in the accreditation of each other’s schools.
According to the U.S. Department of Education “Accreditation in the United States is a voluntary, nongovernmental process, in which an institution and its programs are evaluated against standards for measuring quality.” The Department further states that “The U.S. Department of Education does not have the authority to accredit private or public elementary or secondary schools, and the Department does not recognize accrediting bodies for the accreditation of private or public elementary and secondary schools.”
It is important here to note that this leaves the accreditation (whether termed “Registered”, “Recognized” or otherwise designated) completely up to the state or county education/school entity. This local independence, a deliberate feature of the U.S. educational system, nevertheless here in the context of mutually-reinforcing, reciprocal accreditation by identifiably “Red” and “Green” accreditation organizations, gives rise to concern.
Although there are numerous other organizations involved in Pre-K-12 educational accreditation, such as the Montessori Associationand International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the primary “Red” accreditation organization is “AdvancED”.AdvancED was formed through a 2006 merger of the Pre-K-12 divisions of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)—and expanded through the addition of the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) in 2012.
AdvancED states that it comprises “the largest community of education professionals in the world” and that it is “non-profit and non-partisan”.The organization also states that “Combining the knowledge and expertise of a research institute, the skills of a management consulting firm and the passion of a grassroots movement for educational change, we serve as a trusted partner to 36,000 educational institutions—employing more than four million educatorsand enrolling more than 20 million students—across the United States and 70 other nations.”
When AdvancED accredits a “non-public school,” that evaluation is based on four elements, one of which is “Cultural Competence”. It states that this is established by “staffing the team with a critical mass of individuals who have understanding and experience with the cultural realities existing in any given school. Cultural competence can be mission specific as in the case of independent schools, special purpose schools or faith-based schools, such as Christian, Catholic, Islamic, Lutheran, etc. Cultural competence also is related to school type and school location such as K-12, elementary, middle, high school, post-secondary, distance education, corporation, career technical, Department of Defense, boarding, day, single sex, or international schools in Latin America, Asia, Middle East and Europe.”
AdvancED further states that “The observations and evidential insights provided through cultural competence of team members are experiential and intuitive. Written evidence provided to the team that is mission specific or culturally relevant, while valuable, is practically irrelevant in the hands of a culturally incompetent team. The cultural competence of the team is one of the most critical components needed to experience a transformational visit for the school.”
While AdvancED in and of itself accomplishes a necessary mission in the accreditation of educational institutions, the concern arises when realizing that the field of U.S. academia long has been dominated by leftist, Marxist, and Progressive influences. This is especially true at the college and university level. That “Cultural Competence” is one of the four elements AdvancED uses to accredit “non-public schools” inevitably does give rise to legitimate concern about the pervasive spread of just such influences across the entirety of the U.S. educational system.
On the “Green” side, there are several organizations that accredit U.S. Islamic schools (or madrassas), which are often attached to Islamic Centers that include a mosque and other facilities. Primary among these is the Council of Islamic Schools in North America (CISNA).
CISNA was formed at an educational symposium hosted by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 1989. ISNA is one of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the country and was named by the Department of Justice an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial.
CISNA describes its mission as follows:
- Its vision is “To be a leading and unifying organization striving for the advancement of Islamic schools and Islamic education respectively.”
- Its structure is “an association of Islamic schools and educational organizations working to improve Islamic schools through accreditation, consultation, and professional development; advocating for Islamic education; and fostering professional relationships with educational institutions and agencies relevant to Islamic education.”
- Its goals are to:
- Promote Islamic schools and Islamic education on a global level
- Provide accreditation services
- Provide professional development at a global level
- Foster professional relationships among Islamic schools and other organizations
- Provide consulting services relevant to Islamic education
CISNA has accredited a total of 31 Islamic schools across the U.S., most of which are also accredited through AdvancED. This conveniently reciprocal accreditation arrangement—between AdvancED, the leading (and decidedly leftist-leaning) accreditation authority in the U.S., and ISNA, one of the most influential Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the country—surely must give rise to at least a measure of concern.
CISNA is currently in close collaboration with ISNA to plan its 20thAnnual Education Forum in April 2019 with the theme of “Integrating Social Justice in Islamic Education”.
Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA)
ISLA was founded in 1998 by four parents whose own children received an education in a U.S. Islamic school. Their satisfaction with that Islamic education and a desire to see Islam-based schooling expand in the U.S. led to an interest in the general condition of Islamic K-12 education across the country. A year of research convinced the parents that the status of Islamic education nationwide was encouraging because Islamic schools were expanding rapidly in Muslim communities across the country.
Today, ISLA serves as a non-profit advocacy hub to promote Islamic education in the U.S. It works with educators, organizations, parents, and universities around the U.S. to provide professional pedagogical training, offer educational resources, and facilitate networking among Islamic educational institutions in the U.S. ISLA also accredits Islamic schools (41 to date), some of which have received additional accreditation from other organizations such as AdvancED.
The ISLA Facebook pageshows girls from a very young age as well as female teaching staff completely covered in hijabs and enveloping robes, links to ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) and CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), both Brotherhood front groups, Zaytuna College (a Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic university in Berkeley, CA) and an ad for Shariah Compliant Financing (SCF), all problematic indicators. The ISLA Twitter pageis similarly troubling, with multiple links to Nation of Islam and Malcom X, SCF, more little girls in hijabs, and links to AdvancED and CISNA.
CISNA was formed directly by ISNA, a Muslim Brotherhood front group. ISLA may be somewhat more independent, but still openly displays its Brotherhood connections and shariah-adherent identity. Also, like CISNA, there is significant overlap between it and AdvancED in accreditation and a more limited overlap with CISNA. Whether this could indicate that CISNA is targeting ISLA or vice versa for absorption is not clear. The concern, though, arises because of the interlinked and mutually legitimizing relationships among educational accreditation organizations here identified as respectively, leftist and jihadist in nature.
Whether that veneer of legitimacy is warranted or not is the question, at a time when a traditional American curriculum that focuses on traditional subject matter but also encourages civic responsibility and patriotism seems on the wane. In view of the indoctrinating influence the Progressive left has inflicted on the U.S. educational system over the last century, to see now the expansion of a jihadist influence within American academia that is not only openly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood but operating in collaboration with that hard-core left is deeply disturbing.
Timothy White has been affiliated with American law enforcement and military for over thirty years. He has trained and advised several agencies in law enforcement, criminal intelligence, counter-insurgency and other related fields. He is currently advising a government agency in modernizing their law enforcement and criminal intelligence program.
EDITORS NOTE: This Center for Security Policy column with images is republished with permission.