Rest of the Story: RHMS World Religion Study
Radio station 710 KNUS interviewed Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) Principal Mike Loitz on January 6, 2015 regarding a field trip involving a visit to a mosque. We would like to clarify some misinformation regarding the field trip.
For the past ten years, RHMS seventh-grade students take a social studies course that is partially focused on world religion. In the Douglas County School District (DCSD), we provide authentic learning experiences to all students. We teach students how to think, not what to think.
The social studies course includes a voluntary field trip to a Greek Orthodox Church, a Jewish Temple, and a Mosque. As with any field trip, our students and families are offered the choice to participate in the field trip – it is not mandatory. If the decision is made to not participate in a field trip, alternative educational opportunities are provided. This is true for any DCSD field trip, including the RHMS world religion field trip. Students who choose to attend the RHMS world religion field trip are expected to respect the dress code of the host facility, but again, they may choose not to participate. Information shared with RHMS parents stated: "All students must wear appropriate long pants. Ankles must be covered. Girls must bring wide scarves or hooded sweatshirts for the mosque."
Some have claimed the world religion course is part of Common Core – this is simply not true. Common Core does not include social studies. In fact, the world religion social studies course is part of the seventh-grade Colorado Academic Standards – meaning this is part of the state requirement for all Colorado school districts.
As part of providing an authentic learning opportunity for students, DCSD provides an optional field trip to further support the world religion course, thus allowing students who choose to participate to discuss what they experienced on the field trip with their family members and eventually leading to the development of their own views.
DCSD offers a world class learning experience to students both in and out of the classroom.