Over Christmas break, I was shocked to learn from my two sons that there is a teacher at Hoopeston Area High School who refuses to stand and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance” at the beginning of the school day. Neither of my sons have ever had instruction from the teacher is question but this is apparently a topic among the students at school.
Under “Curriculum” (Section 6.60) of the Hoopeston Area Board Policy Manual dated 10-16-18; Item 7 states the following:
In all schools, citizenship values must be taught, including: (a) patriotism, (b) democratic principles of freedom, justice, and equality, © proper use and display of the American flag, (d) the Pledge of Allegiance, and (e) the voting process.
This board has affirmed through the adoption of this policy that these are the values of this community and should be taught to our students. Not standing, showing respect for the flag and reciting the pledge is a direct contradiction to the citizenship values outlined. One leads and one teaches by example.
I addressed the board in closed session at the January board meeting. It was not my desire to go into closed session, that was a decision made by the board/administration. It was their concern that this was a personnel matter which should be handled in executive session. It was and will not be my intention to turn this into a vendetta against the individual teacher. It is important for the individual teachers’ name not to be part of the discussion so that we can address the core issue of enforcing policy already in place and strengthening the policy to prevent all types of anti-American propaganda being taught to impressionable students.
I pointed out to the board that the policy is a condition of employment. It is no different than not allowing teachers to have a beer during their lunch, smoke in the teacher’s lounge, or wear bikini tops and short skirts. Most people who have jobs have conditions of employment. If you want the job, you accept those conditions. If you don’t like the conditions of employment, you have the freedom to go and find a different job whose conditions you can accept. When teachers are on their own time, they have the freedom to act any way the law, a condition of citizenship just like policy is a condition of employment, allows. Notice that the last two sentences emphasize that the teachers/citizens have freedom; freedom paid for by the same soldiers who defend the flag they refuse to pledge allegiance to.
The school board has subsequently indicated to me that they have no intention to take a stand against this policy violation.
The February school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 21st at 6:00 pm in the High School Library. I intend to address the board again in the open session, public comment portion of the agenda. It is my hope that the board will discuss and eventually vote on these important issues in open session so we can all hear each board members position. If you find this situation as troubling as I do, please join me at the board meeting. Too often, we let the vocal minority determine what happens to our country and to our right as citizens and tax payers to have our values represented.
I am thankful my family and my school taught me the greatness of this country and how to respect the flag through the pledge and national anthem. Not all students have family to help teach them about the sacrifices so many men and women and their families have made. We must make sure our school still provides this valuable information for the future of our children and our country.