Monday, October 21, 2019
US flag

TX backs expulsion for not standing during pledge

In supporting a school in Texas that expelled a student because she repeatedly refused to stand during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, reveals either his lack of understanding or contempt for the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette.

That landmark decision was handed down in 1943 by the Supreme Court of the United States. Justices ruled that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance in a public school. Since students cannot be forced to recite the pledge, clearly they can’t be required to stand when other students are reciting it either.

Although neither the 1943 ruling nor the First Amendment applies to private entities, such as the NFL, it does apply to public schools in Texas and to the office of the attorney general of that state.

But Mr Paxton also claims the Supreme Court would back him up.

“The US Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children, which is a critical aspect of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution,” Newsweek quoted him as saying in a statement about the current case, which the student, who is 18, has brought before a district court in the state.

Officials at Windfern High School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District near Houston say the girl failed to stand some 200 times in 2017 with six different teachers as her classmates were reciting the pledge at the start of the school day.

Principal Martha Strother expelled her after she failed to stand during the pledge while she was sitting in the principal’s office.

“Well, you’re kicked outta here,” the lawsuit claims Ms Strother said. The principal also allegedly “had recently been whipped into a frenzy” by the NFL protests, according to the complaint. The school secretary told the student, “This is not the NFL.”

The secretary’s statement is the heart of the matter here. While I believe the attorney general would be right in telling the Dallas Cowboys to fire a player who kneels during the national anthem, if that’s truly how he feels, I believe he steps outside the lines in telling a public school to deprive a student of her education for not participating in patriotic activities.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

High-payroll Yankees don’t make World Series

The World Series begins Tuesday, but some of the playoff games can teach us valuable things about youth sports, investment, etc.

Chicago teacher strike enters calendar week 2

Chicago teachers strike for the 3rd day Monday; the union wants smaller class sizes and support for paraprofessionals.

What happened after a coach disarmed a student

In Oregon last May, a high school coach saw a student carrying a gun and disarmed him. Now we know what happened next.

Fox Island disappears in the Chesapeake

An island that has provided some environmental education for many is being lost to rising sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay.

Ohio University hazing charges bring suspensions

The university is investigating hazing charges brought against several student organizations and social groups.

Vaping in a Md. high school

Clarksburg HS, like others in Montgomery County and across the nation, has a vaping problem among its students.

No Howard Co. juniors face required redistricting

Howard Co., Md., faces not only overcrowding but wide gaps in terms of socioeconomic status of families at its diverse schools.

Monkeys beat humans in cognitive flexibility

When we go about solving problems, we are sometimes so fixed in our ways that we fail to explore more efficient solution strategies.

Calif. law requires a sane start time for teens

A new law in Calif. will require public middle schools to start no earlier than 8:00 and high schools no earlier than 8:30.

Chicago teachers will begin a strike Thursday

Chicago Public Schools teachers are expected to begin a strike Thursday. The last one, in 2012, lasted 7 school days.

‘Read to the Final Four’ coming for 3rd graders

A reading contest for 3rd graders in the Atlanta metro area will crown the "Final Four" schools just before the NCAA tournament.