A teacher in Colorado this week was suspended after it was alleged that she assaulted a young child who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance—a troubling example of educators who refuse to acknowledge that students have the right to refuse participation in the daily ritual still found in many U.S. schools.
"In a republic, the people should not pledge allegiance to the government; the government should pledge allegiance to the people."
According to CBS News:
A teacher with Colorado's Boulder Valley School District was placed on paid administrative leave following an alleged incident at the middle school, the school district said Thursday. CBS Denver confirmed the Lafayette Police Department is investigating reports that teacher allegedly assaulted a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Karen Smith, [the school's] physical education teacher, was placed on leave Thursday.
The school's principal, Mike Medina, sent a letter home to parents Thursday evening notifying them there had been an "incident" involving Smith but said he could not elaborate.
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Last year, as Splinter News reported at the time, a teacher in New Jersey was suspended after he bragged about failing students who refused to participate in the pledge.
"They refused to stand, saying 'they didn’t have to[.]' I told them that is true and that what makes this country great is 'that I didn’t have to pass them either,'" Steven Solomon, the teacher, confessed. He was later suspended for his actions.
Though many public schools in the country continue to treat standing as the pledge as compulsory, the U.S. Supreme Court has said forcing students to do so is a violation of their constitutionally-protected rights. The court, as the ACLU explains in an on-line manual directed at students, "has held that it is just as much a violation of your First Amendment rights for the government to make you say something you don't want to say as it is for the government to prevent you from saying what you do want to say." All students, the civil liberties group says, "have a right to remain silently seated during the pledge."
In a 2009 column that appeared on Common Dreams, entitled 'The Pledge of Allegiance Is Un-American," Michael Lind put it this way: "In a republic, the people should not pledge allegiance to the government; the government should pledge allegiance to the people."