Remembering and Reflecting on September 11, 2001 in the Classroom: A Guide for Pennsylvania and Delaware Educators and Parents

Dear School District Leaders and Parents,

CAIR is our nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. Our mission is to enhance the public’s understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims of all ages.

At CAIR-Philadelphia, our office has presented multiple educational resources to our educators. This year, marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are sharing a more comprehensive resource. 

DOWNLOAD: CAIR-PA School Resource Document: Teaching September 11, 2011 in Diverse Classrooms: A Guide for Pennsylvania and Delaware Educators and Parents

Although most schools in Pennsylvania and Delaware teach students about 9/11 in an appropriate way, our civil rights organization usually receives a spike in complaints from students and families on anniversaries of 9/11. Some complaints involve peer-to-peer bullying, while others involve anti-Muslim content in lesson plans. In some instances, schools have used educational materials about 9/11 created by anti-Muslim hate groups. This year, we are embarking on a school district-level student leadership and advocacy project to help our students lead on inclusion and equity concerns. Please stay tuned for more details. 

With this in mind, we write to share informative resources that your school district can use to ensure that your lesson plans about the 9/11 attacks are accurate and reliably sourced, protect Muslim students from bullying, and educate students about the impact that 9/11 had on all Americans, including American Muslims. These resources are intended for grades 6-12. 

This document includes practical tips and lesson plans.

Examples of tips include:

  1. Alert students a few days in advance of the 9/11 lesson plan so that families have time to prepare their children for the discussion.  
  2. Only use external instructional materials – such as photographs, documentaries, etc. –from vetted, reliable, mainstream sources such a museums and major media outlets.  
  3. Vet all materials, including internal materials such as textbooks, to ensure that they do not include inaccurate information or inflammatory content.  
  4. Immediately respond to any incidents of bullying or harassment that occur in the classroom during the lesson plan.  
  5. Refrain from asking students to engage in educational activities that stimulate the roles of perpetrators, targets, or bystanders. 

At CAIR, we dedicate much of our time to addressing anti-Muslim bigotry in school settings. Research has demonstrated that Muslims face bullying at twice the rate of the national average. Many Muslim children also report that they do not feel safe approaching their teachers or school leaders about bullying, which is a problem in many school districts across the nation.

CAIR National’s 2021 Civil Rights Report, Resilience in the Face of Hate, documented various school-related complaints ranging from bullying, Islamophobic school curriculum, and holiday denials in 2020. Bullying accounted for 44% of all school-related complaints. 

SEE: 2021 Civil Rights Report: Resilience in the Face of Hate

Bias and Bullying in Public Schools: Mitigating the Impact on Muslim and Perceived-as-Muslim Students

I would like to acknowledge CAIR-National office in Washington, DC and CAIR-Los Angeles for curating the majority of the resources presented here. 

Please contact us directly if we can be of further assistance. 


Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, PhD
Education and Outreach Director, CAIR-Philadelphia | 617-401-5397