I Trust; YOU Obey
Taking the Pledge
Libertarianism is rejected by the modern left which preaches individualism but practices collectivism.
- Karl Hess
Who's Guarding the Kids? Members on the student council at Boys Republic
by Michael Yates
In my view, schools are essentially purveyors of misinformation and promoters of behavior consistent with the requirements of the economic system. Most students are going to be workers someday. They will be expected to work hard at jobs requiring limited skills and to obey orders. Political and business leaders argue that the education system is failing because it is not producing people literate enough to do the work which will help the United States to compete with our economic rivals. But this is largely propaganda, which we can see clearly when these same critics also propose a return to the "basics" and renewed emphasis on discipline, the very things which are least likely to produce an educated citizenry.
The truth is that the number of jobs requiring extensive technical, scientific, or literary skills is shrinking as a percentage of total employment. Our schools have always produced enough workers to fill these slots, and if they do not today, it is because the good students now want to make as much money as they can with as little effort as possible. Is there a shortage of lawyers or bond brokers or accountants? Would none of these people have been capable of becoming scientists or engineers?
No, what the schools are expected to do is churn out people who will do what they are told and not expect too much in return. What business leaders want is people who will work harder for less money and keep their mouths shut. They do not want liberally educated, critical thinkers, precisely because such people will ask questions and insist on their rights. It is one thing to get a few future lawyers to become scientists instead, but it is quite another to encourage people to develop themselves as fully as possible.
Flag saluting and the nationalism of which it is a vital part are perfect vehicles to produce the docile persons the system needs. They teach that obedience is more important than thinking. Someday students will have to obey their employers. Someday they will have to march off to war. What better way to get them ready than to make them pray to the flag everyday?
When we examine the so-called education crisis with a critical eye, we see that the schools have not failed. They are doing what they have always done, preparing people for a lifetime of thoughtless work and consumption.
During the Gulf War, principals gave teachers yellow ribbons to pass out to their classes. The teachers did it. The students wore them and wrote letters to the troops. Critical thinking, much less opposition, were virtually nonexistent. If actual death and destruction cannot elicit thought, economic warfare won't either.
All of this is not to say that there is no disaster in the public schools. There is, but it has little to do with the inability of our students to read and write. Our education crisis is a reflection of a deepening social malaise. Our society has become more polarized, with a small stratum of wealthy people confronting a mass of wealthless people facing grim futures. The poor, largely minority, students in our urban schools have little to look forward to; there is not and will not be meaningful work for them to do.
Teachers face sullen and unhappy young people, products of severe social dysfunction, and instead of trying to liberate them, they make them salute flags. This is not likely to work, so they will turn the screws tighter. The schools will become more prison-like. After all, more black men of college age are in prison than in college. It is an insidious system and likely to become more so.
Michael Yates lives in New York City and can be reached at: email@example.com
Source: counterpunch.org 28 - 30 June 2002
Protecting Them from What?
Senate Minority Leader John Andrews (shown here with two House colleagues at a Denver school
Silence, Pledge Added; New Law for Schools
by Jennifer Roy
Simple words that children are taught at a very early age and now Texas lawmakers want it added to each day of school. Governor Rick Perry on Thursday signed a new law that requires all Texas school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Texas flag followed by a minute of silence or meditation during the day. The bill was introduced by Republican Senator Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio and will become law September 1.
"Really it’s not that much of a change," Granbury superintendent William Harris said. "Our elementary and intermediate students have already been saying the pledges as a local option, now we’ll do it as a state law." Harris said when classes start in August the pledges will be implemented as part of the curriculum. "Typically I would say we’ll start our day at each of our campuses with the pledges, the moment of silence and then our regular announcements." Harris is going to encourage principals to ask students to lead the pledges.
School board president Micky Shearon said he’s pleased to see the moment of silence added to the school day. "I think it’s great," Shearon said. "This will give the kids a chance to meditate or whatever. It’s a great way for them to start their day. I believe that most of our parents will be happy to see this added to their children’s day." Shearon said he’s also glad to see a renewed emphasis placed on the Pledge of Allegiance. "The Pledge tells such a story," he explained. "It’s good common-sense civics. It will help instill some patriotic pride in our kids. We grew up saying the Pledge at the start of every day and I’m pleased to see our children now doing it."
Source: hcnews.com Hood County Friday 30 May 2003
Student Stands up to Pledge - in Court
Boynton Beach - A high school junior has sued the Palm Beach County School Board, claiming he was ridiculed and punished for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. Cameron Frazier, with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, is challenging the school district and Florida law that require students to show written permission from their parents before declining to recite the pledge. Teacher Cynthia Alexandre called the 17-year-old student "so ungrateful and so un-American" after he twice refused to stand for the pledge in her classroom 8 November, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday. Frazier was then removed from the classroom. He is seeking unspecified damages and legal fees.
"Patriotism is more than going along with everybody else and just saluting a flag. It's about things like supporting our troops during the holidays and helping hurricane victims," Frazier said in a statement provided by the ACLU. "This lawsuit is not about the Pledge of Allegiance," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. "It is about his right to choose not to stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance."
School district spokesman Nat Harrington said he could not comment on pending litigation.
State law says the pledge needs to be recited at the beginning of the day at all elementary, middle and high schools. A student must stand for the pledge even if he is exempt from reciting it with a written request from a parent, Harrington said. "You cannot be disruptive during that time or any other time," Harrington said.
Source: miami.com 24 December 2005 © MiamiHerald.com and Associated Press wire service all rights reserved
Radio Show Helps Fuel Flag Controversy
by Jen Sansbury
Freeport - Velasco Elementary School’s principal said he has been taken aback by a controversy that has arisen from his campus’ Mexican Independence Day celebration, and he apologises for offending parents. During a short school assembly Friday, several parent volunteers read a pledge of allegiance to the Mexican flag. Since a parent complained on the Chris Baker show on NewsRadio 740 KTRH that afternoon, the issue has become a focal point of some Houston talk radio shows. "It’s been overwhelming," said longtime Principal Sam Williams. "It’s been a real trying ordeal and all I can say is I deeply apologise if anyone was offended by it - and I can see that they are."
In hindsight, he said, the program should have been presented differently. "If I had it to do all over again, we would revamp it," Williams said. "There’s no way that we would repeat it."
Velasco Elementary has 635 students in prekindergarten through 4th grade, 65% of whom are Hispanic. Williams, who is black, has served as principal of the school for 18 years. "We have stated in our mission statement that we are a campus that is a beacon of hope for a culturally diverse population," Williams said.
At about 10am Friday, students and parents gathered in the gym for an assembly commemorating Diez y Seis de Septiembre, September 16, when Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain. The school’s bilingual classes from different grade levels performed songs, Williams said. Everyone was given a small Mexican flag and a group of 6 or 7 parents recited the pledge from a script, Williams said. The students did not recite it, he said. "My students don’t even know the Mexican pledge," Williams said. "In the minds of my little kids here at the elementary school... they were simply holding a flag."
He said the audience did stand as a sign of respect because that is the custom with which students are familiar. "What we normally do is we stand for any pledge that’s given," he said. "They can only relate to the US pledge and the Texas pledge."
Baker continued talking about the incident during his radio show Tuesday afternoon. He criticised the principal for allowing anyone to recite a pledge to the Mexican flag in the midst of a national debate over illegal immigration. He also called for the principal’s demotion. "To blow it off as quote-unquote ‘historical teaching methods’ either shows complete arrogance or a lack of the ability to grasp the seriousness of the illegal immigration issue to Americans," Baker said at the beginning of his show. The audio of Baker’s broadcast is stored online at www.ktrh.com. According to the recording, on Friday a woman who said her name was Amy called in about the assembly at her daughter’s school. She claimed everyone there was asked to pledge allegiance to the Mexican flag. "Where is the sensitivity to the country and to the troops and the men and women that have fought and died for this country?" she said.
The woman said her husband served 3 tours of duty in Vietnam and she has a son in the war now. "We absolutely refuse to stand up and pledge allegiance to another country’s flag," she said.
Williams said he was "devastated" that the parent who objected to the program called a radio show rather than approaching him with her concern. "I would have graciously visited with that parent and explained on-site what the intent was," he said. "I would have been open - I still remain open - to the parent or the parents that were in attendance for the presentation on 15 September to explain."
Brazosport ISD spokesman Stuart Dornburg pointed out that 15 September through 15 October is considered national Hispanic Heritage Month and Velasco’s assembly was a cultural educational activity. The district values and respects diversity, he said. "We study different cultures, that’s part of the educational process," Dornburg said. "And we do do a pledge to the American and the Texas flag every morning."
Source: story.thefacts.com 20 September 2006
Tiny minds scare me...
Do You Know What Your Kids Are Watching on "Educational" TV at School?
by Teresa Whitehurst
"A parent who's too busy or doesn't realise the importance of tuning in to his or her child often expresses surprise when the child gets into trouble or drops out of school. The child knows, but can't explain, that those "bad kids" he or she hangs out with are like a lifeline. This is the secret pull - all the unpleasantness and risk in the world is worth the feeling of being seen and heard by someone."
I learned something new yesterday. Channel One News, the "educational" TV show that my daughter Isa and millions of other American kids watch every morning at school, is busy recruiting our teenagers into the military. "Mom, they're really aiming at the black kids, and the Hispanic kids too. I'm so sick of seeing those military ads every day. "The Power of One", and all that - lots of my friends are falling for it!"
This is especially upsetting to Isa because several of her black friends, 18, 19 and 20 years old, have been shipped to Iraq. Some were promised they wouldn't have to be in combat, but would be doing "mechanical work", "communications", or "wiring". It seems doubtful that, when push comes to shove, kids who've been promised such jobs will be allowed to avoid combat. One of her friends has already been shot "in an embarrassing place"; he's being treated overseas instead of the US so that he can be sent quickly back into combat in Iraq. Mr Bush's military needs warm bodies, able or not.
I stopped the car and asked, "Wait a minute. What do you mean when you say you're 'seeing those military ads every day'?"
"We have to watch this short thing every morning in homeroom called Channel One News," Isa explained with a weary tone. "It's educational, supposedly. You know, the day's news, so we'll be up on current events. But in between the stories, there are more and more ads for the Army and the Marines."
I thought about "No Child Left Behind" and the malignant purpose behind that sweet-sounding act that Mr Bush and his men (and at least one journalist paid $250,000 by the White House) have continuously promoted to trusting parents across the US. After catching my breath I asked, "Are you saying you're being recruited through the tv you watch during homeroom?" She nodded. I asked again, "What do your teachers think about this? What about Mr Hitchens (not his real name), who told you privately that he's antiwar? Doesn't he say anything against it?"
"No, I think the teachers and the kids are so used to it at my school that they don't even notice anymore. I mean, the other day I was walking to sociology class and heard the ROTC instructor telling the kids, "Okay, this is how you hold your M-16." The whole culture of the school is military these days, so nobody notices anything unusual about this. And I think the few teachers who aren't pro-war or pro-Bush are afraid to get in trouble if they say anything that doesn't sound pro-military."
For two years my daughter and I have been fighting the aggressive and often sneaky efforts of military recruiters to sign her up. Certainly they don't want her for her physical prowess - she weighs 98 pounds - so I can only assume they want her for other reasons. Could it be they just want young bodies - even tiny ones - to serve as cannon fodder? With a military recruiter present every day in the cafeteria, military "speakers" visiting classrooms, and huge recruiting posters in the guidance office, perhaps it's not surprising that teachers and even guidance counselors have been influenced by the constant hum of "enlist, enlist, enlist". Students at Isa's school are told that, yes, they could consider college, but that it's "very expensive" and "may not guarantee you a job" while the military "will pay for college" and "practically guarantees you'll have a great career." Oh, and "a big cash bonus right now if you sign up today!"
Joining the military is presented as the one and only path of honour, heroism, and service to one's country. Many students, not surprisingly, want to be heroes or get out of poverty, so they're signing up in droves. College recruiting is a rarity at this school, and at her previous school, as well. Ah, but military recruiters are constantly lurking around, spending quality time with fatherless boys, handing out materials, giving "aptitude tests" (played down as "just helping you figure out what you're really good at"), handing out Marine bumper stickers, and otherwise making their smartly-uniformed presence known. "It's just everywhere", Isa continued. "Here's an example: In gym we don't exercise or play sports like we used to do - now we "sound off", just like in the military, while running and doing jumping jacks, push-ups, and pull-ups. The freshmen are told to shout, "one, two!" then the sophomores are supposed to answer, "three, four!" and then the whole group of us has to say "Sound off!" I mean it's ridiculous Mom! How are you supposed to exercise while you're shouting at the top of your lungs?"
As I started driving again, I took a moment to reflect on this "military culture" that's replacing the educational culture in America's public schools. Surely Channel One News, which parents and educators have criticised from the start as nothing more than a way to let corporations advertise their products directly to kids without their parents' knowledge, wouldn't go so far as to market the military to children as a (better, more heroic, more exciting) alternative to college? Surely they wouldn't override Mom and Dad by sneakily recruiting through "educational" tv at school? Would they? Could they?
Dr Teresa Whitehurst is a clinical psychologist and writer
To Be a Teacher
Source: galileo.spaceports.com 18 October 2002)
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