Friday, May 09, 2014

I Thought We Resolved This In 1943

Didn't the Supreme Court deal with this during World War II?
A student at a Texas high school says he was given a two-day in-school suspension for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, sparking a debate on social media about whether the school district violated the teen's First Amendment rights.

Needville High School sophomore Mason Michalec told he refused to stand for the Pledge because of his opposition to government spying.
"I’m really tired of our government taking advantage of us,” Michalec said. "I don’t agree with the NSA spying on us. And I don’t agree with any of those Internet laws."

The 15-year-old has refused to stand for the Pledge for most of the year, but he ran into trouble when a different teacher noticed he was staging a silent protest.

“And she told me, 'This is my classroom. This is the principal’s request. You’re going to stand,'" Michalec told the station. "And I still didn’t stand and she said she was going to write me up."

Michalec said that after he was punished with two days of in-school suspension, the principal warned him that he would face more suspensions if his protest continued.
We in the education business too often shoot ourselves in the foot with this kind of stupidity.   The most that should be expected from the dumpling is that he stay quiet while the rest of the students voluntarily state the pledge, and there's no indication in this story that he wasn't quiet.


maxutils said...

A better question would be ... why do we waste educational time by reciting the pledge of allegiance. I mean, seriously ... what percentage of people do you think actually mean it? They might, but when you recite it every day, it becomes just words. I don't know why you wouldn't participate, but I also don't understand why it needs to be done.

allen (in Michigan) said...

It's not stupidity. It's self-indulgence.

Whoever it is who made the decision to suspend the kid has made similarly self-indulgent decisions before because there's not much reason not to. Most of the time there are no repercussions for the administrator so why not? After a while the attitude leads to such idiotic decisions as suspending what's hardly more then a baby for gnawing a breakfast pastry into a crudely shaped pistol.

Stupidity would explain that decision, as well as the decision in this story, but so would self-indulgence and self-indulgence is a much more widely applicable explanation.

TeachJoeP said...

I had the same thoughts. I've had a U.S. History class (or for the last two years a Freshman Civics class) during the time of day when my school says the pledge and does announcements. On the first day of the semester, I explain to them that they have the right to not stand and recite, but then tell them why I think they should. Not surprisingly, nearly all (if not 100%) choose to stand, and have done so every day, all year. The comments on the original article are an interesting study in how many people view a simple act of patriotism very differently.

Darren said...

Why recite it every day? Because some of us actually care. To some of us, the republic is something of value and should be venerated and protected. It's not much different from praying before a meal or dressing appropriately for an occasion--it's a way of demonstrating what's important to you.

maxutils said...

I know that's the rhetorical answer ... but when you're coerced (and I know, since you can opt out it's not really coercion) then it really doesn't have meaning. What would have meaning ... and I've seen this happen ... is if students gather at the flag pole, before school, voluntarily to recite it. My point was that it was not a great use of instructional time. I love America, but don't feel the need to pledge my allegiance to it every day ... I also don't pray before meals, as I don't happen to believe in God. Were I to be eating at a friend's house where they did, I would be polite and play along -- and I've been to many a Seder, so I've done much playing. When something becomes routine, I would argue that it becomes rote, rather than important.

Curmudgeon said...

"staging a silent protest"
That seems to be pretty clear. The school is wasting their time trying to "punish" the kid; they're simply making him the center of attention and making his argument for him. The best way to stop unwanted teenage "rebellion" and "Protest for what is Right" is to (a) explain your policy in a clear way, and (b) ignore the idiot and continue on with what you feel is important. Of course, if while explaining your policy in a clear way, you realize that the policy needs amending, then you do so.

Forcing someone to stand and recite encourages other, more insidious kinds of protest ... the loud, monotonous, drone-like recitation, for instance. "Well, you WANTED me to SAY it, but you can't tell me HOW to say it" with all the teenage ideological self-righteousness he can muster.

"Be silent and unobtrusive."

Please avoid saying "because some of us actually care." Caring about the country and the recitation of the Pledge are two entirely different things. There are lots of things that go into caring about your country ... the pledge is not the only measure.