By Joe Anuta
State education officials are currently reviewing a Flushing charter school application that outlines a curriculum based on teachings from both ancient Chinese and modern Western philosophies, yet is rife with references to an acrid political debate in China and Flushing involving the spiritual movement known as Falun Dafa.
The proposed Whole Elephant Charter School would hold classes for kindergarten through fifth-grade students in both English and Mandarin and would cover a wide variety of subjects like physics, chemistry and math, but also martial arts, meditation and Chinese cooking, according to the application.
“The Whole Elephant Elementary School at Flushing carries out the mission to establish an innovative education system which integrates the most frontier science of the West with the ancient science of mind-body-spirit from the East,” stated the application, penned by the school’s creator, Dr. Lotus King Weiss. She identifies herself as a practitioner of Falun Dafa, another name for the controversial Falun Gong meditation movement.
Weiss wants to reach children born in America to illegal Chinese immigrants. These children, according to the application, need assistance integrating into American culture but still need to retain their own.
The application went into great detail about how Chinese immigrants enter the country illegally with the help of human smugglers Weiss refers to as Snake Heads, and then owe massive debts that take years to pay off, the application said.
That is why the school would also feature a dormitory where the students would stay seven days a week, with the exception of both national and various religious holidays. A sample curriculum contained in the application shows various activities running from breakfast to bedtime, with allotments for scholarly instruction, and watching movies and meditation.
Because of the extended hours of the school day, the school would only operate on a three-week schedule. Every fourth week the children would be shuttled to another building upstate to experience nature and participate in community service activities, according to the application.
Weiss, who states she was a lead cancer researcher at Harvard Medical School, believes public schools lack a spiritual component, which she is careful not to define as religion but as another way of investigating the world.
The application devoted numerous passages to outlining the clash between the government of China and the Falun Gong movement.
Weiss also proposed that each student at the school perform the movement’s unique brand of meditation before going to bed each night.
“Our charter school will therefore deliver the teachings of Falun Dafa to all students in our charter school, as a profound science of mind-body-spirit, in the subject category of science,” Weiss said in the application.
The application said Weiss’ school would also impart spiritual teachings, which it refers to as spiritual science, from Christian and Jewish figures such as Jesus or Moses as well as teaching from Buddhism and Daoism.
The state Department of Education stipulates that charter schools must be secular.
The application also devoted numerous passages to disparaging the government of China — referring to it as “communist,” “twisted” and the source of blame for all manner of social ills — with which it has had well-publicized confrontations.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.