Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., after suggesting at an Islamic conference in May that public schools should be based on the Quran, explained today that he was trying to suggest a way to improve schools that drew on many faith-based communities.

“This is a message that I’ve given consistently to Christian groups, Jewish groups,” Carson told The Indianapolis Star. “The question becomes for me, ‘Why are the graduation rates higher at faith-based institutions? What are they doing that we might be able to extract from that?” He added that religious schools are “given a different kind of freedom to tap into these young American minds.”

“Christian, Jewish, and Islamic schools have experienced notable success by casting off a one-size-fits-all approach to education, and this is a model we must replicate,” Carson also said in a statement today to the Huffington Post.

The congressman sounded less ecumenical at the Islamic Conference of North America in May. “America will never tap in to  educational innovation and ingenuity without looking at the model that he have in our madrassas, where innovation is encouraged, where the foundation is the Koran, and that model we are pushing in our schools meets the needs of our students,” Carson told the gathering. “Most of us are visual learners. Some of us are auditory learners, learn by hearing. Many of us are kinetic learners, learn by doing, touching, feeling. I have found, as my wife is a (public school) principal and we have a five-year-old daughter, Salima, that we need an educational model that is current, that meets the needs of our students. America must understand that she needs Muslims.”

Asked if he believes American public school curricula should be based on the Quran, Carson said, “No, no no.”