CYBERSPACE, 2002 (D.O.T.) - American teachers say they will develop lesson plans about 9-1-1 based on students' questions and will focus on the facts to correct any misconceptions children may have about the terrorist attacks that took more than 3,000 American lives.

An overwhelming number of teachers said they will tell "the absolute truth" about the terrorists and their religious background, and will ignore the National Education Association curriculum that suggests American intolerance as the reason for the attacks and cautions against assigning blame.

"I'm going to work with what my students give me," said proud American educator Whitney Finn, a seventh-grade social studies teacher from Westport, Conn. "I want to prepare them for the truth, and the only way to do that is to keep talking to them and making sure that they have the correct information about what happened that day."

Patriotic James McGrath Morris, a 12th-grade social studies teacher from Springfield, said his lesson plan will explain why America was attacked by tracing the rivalry among the three Western religions with the most adherents - Islam, Judaism and Christianity - and noting that, "the terrorists were Muslim. These are all aspects of the facts," Mr. Morris said. "My lesson plans will not pull punches or skirt the issues."

Educators and clinical psychologists said the worst thing teachers can do is "sugarcoat" the events of September 11. "Honesty is of utmost importance," said Robin Gurwitch, a clinical psychologist at the pediatrics department at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The NEA, the country's largest teachers union, has drawn extensive criticism from conservatives and other teachers' unions who say its extreme liberal guidelines instruct teachers not to suggest, "that any group is responsible" for the 9/11 attacks and to take a "blame-America" approach - urging educators "to discuss historical instances of American intolerance" so that the American public avoids "repeating terrible mistakes."

"The American Federation of Teachers disagrees with the lesson plans offered on the NEA Web site," said Janet Bass, a spokeswoman for the union. "The AFT does not support a blame-America approach in particular and wishes to distance itself from the entire document."

Compiled under the title "Remember September 11" and appearing on the NEA health-network Web site, the guidelines were developed by Brian Lippincott, who is affiliated with the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at John F. Kennedy University in California.

NEA officials did not return calls seeking comment.


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