The Daily Eastern News

Kids have rights in schools


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Here’s a hard pill to swallow: You don’t have to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.

It’s like all of a sudden people forgot that in 1943 the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that schools cannot require students to salute the flag or recite the pledge.

In addition to forgetting that case, we also forgot Tinker v. Des Moines, which declares that students do not shed their rights at the school gate. And yes, this does include First Amendment rights such as free speech.

At this point, you probably already figured out that we are talking about the situation with a Florida sixth-grader who was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor after a confrontation with his substitute teacher who wanted him to stand for the Pledge, according to the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.

The sixth-grader was arrested and charged with disruption of a school facility and resisting an officer WITHOUT violence; he was NOT arrested for not standing for the pledge.

Also, the substitute teacher involved no longer works at the district where the incident happened, according to the Tribune.

But, according to both the Tribune and the Post, the teacher said she did not know that the school does not require students to recite the pledge. The situation escalated when the teacher made a “contentious exchange” with the student, according to the Tribune.

The teacher said to this child that if living in the United States was “bad,” why not go to another place to live?

Naturally, the child responded with, “They brought me here.” The whole reason why he didn’t stand in the first place was because he said the flag is racist.

Now, the teacher responded by saying, “Well you can always go back because I came here from Cuba, and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore, I would find another place to live.”

Is this an appropriate thing to say to a child? Or is it OK to say because the child is black? Unfortunately, this is what the story looks like.

People do not know their history of American rights, and people do not do their research. Also, people blame children for problems adults caused.

On top of that, people also jump to conclusions without knowing the full story, and black people are still being racially profiled starting at very young ages.

First of all, this was a substitute teacher. For all we know, the kid could have made the decision to not stand for the Pledge a long time ago and the sub had no idea he was doing this.

But the sub was still wrong because she had no idea that it was OK to not stand. She is an educator, and she admitted that she did not know that students had rights in school.

Moving on, for an educator to say you can go live somewhere else to a student is completely unprofessional and wrong.

We do recognize that if the student was getting out of control and threats were being made, then it is understandable to deliver a proper punishment, such as a suspension. But arresting the kid and charging him with a misdemeanor is a little excessive.

You mean to tell us that a sixth-grader, a little boy, was so out of control that he had to be arrested?

How about this: If a white student was in the same position, would he have gotten arrested and charged, too? Or would a white student just stand in the first place because they don’t witness the blatant disregard for their race on a daily basis?

The point we’re trying to make is that this country has a lot of problems, and until we start recognizing that it’s not OK to arrest and charge a black child for his reaction to an adult telling him to go back to where he came from, the problems will never be solved.

The Editorial Staff can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Kids have rights in schools