When Minnesota Rep. Mindy Greiling, a Roseville DFLer who chairs the House K-12 Finance Division, recently went to Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), the majority-Muslim elementary school in Inver Grove Heights made infamous by a March Star Tribune column, what she discovered was entirely different from what writer Katherine Kersten had reported.
In fact, what she saw -- halal food among a broad array of school lunch options, religious after-school activities among a range of other activities, voluntary prayer time and policies that allow children who choose to fast during Ramadan to spend mealtime away from the lunchroom -- seemed to be an exemplary model of how religious belief must by law be accommodated in a public school setting.
She wrote a letter to the editor of the Star Tribune on Wednesday, calling for Kersten's resignation, citing "reckless journalistic standards" and "gross misrepresentation of the facts." Her letter was picked up on Thursday by Power Line's Scott Johnson, a friend of Kersten's, who says publication of the letter is an "act of thuggery" by Greiling and the paper.
I caught up with Greiling on Thursday to ask her about the letter, get her response to Johnson's remarks and hear about her experiences as TIZA. She said she spoke up not only because she feels Kersten's article was incorrect, but because she was amazed by the quality of the school. "I saw such well-scrubbed, beaming students," she said. "It was just such an impressive school.... a school to be emulated, not hated. She's been a thug herself, as far as I'm concerned."
Listen: Rep. Mindy Greiling on Katherine Kersten's TIZA column (8:23)