LITTLETON, Mass. – A Massachusetts elementary school is apologizing to parents after a substitute teacher took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance, then explained her political perspective to students.
The incident occurred Thursday morning at Russell Street Elementary School in Littleton, where a substitute teacher knelt in protest during the pledge, then explained why to her young, impressionable students, New England Cable News reports.
The protest comes amid a heated national debate about kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner that started last year when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem and his since snowballed into a movement. President Trump called out kneelers a week ago and suggested NFL team owners should fire players who protest, and fans should boycott games over the disrespect to the country, military veterans and others who fought for America’s freedoms.
“I agree with what they’re doing, I just don’t think it’s the proper place for it,” one parent told NBC Boston. “I think trying to impart your own political views to students … I think it’s inappropriate.”
“I don’t particularly care for it. And I don’t know that the school should have someone there that’s expressing their opinion in that way,” one mother told the site. “It should have been discussed before it happened, so that everyone was aware.
“As a parent, I just thought it was disrespectful,” she said. “In an elementary school is not the platform.”
“I think it’s a conversation that needs to be had. I think it’s an important topic,” another parent told WCVB. “Maybe that’s a difficult way to do it.”
Parents and students, of course, complained about the teacher’s actions, forcing Principal Scott Bazydly to issue a prepared statement about the ordeal on Friday.
“The Littleton Public Schools respects the rights of all individuals to participate or respectfully abstain from participating in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Bazydly wrote. “While well-intended, this conversation was not part of the classroom teacher’s plans and should not have taken place in the fashion it did.”
Bazydly said it’s “imperative” that students learn all sides of political issues to “form opinions with guidance from parents,” CBS Boston reports.
“While this topic is timely and does have educational merit, it should be addressed sensitively and age-appropriately by permanent faculty and inclusive of the beliefs of all children and families,” he wrote.
It’s unclear what, if any, punishment the substitute teacher may face as a result of the impromptu lesson.
“School officials declined to say whether the substitute teacher will be disciplined or terminated, calling it a personnel matter,” WCVB reports.
Several folks who commented online clearly believe the teacher doesn’t deserve to be in a classroom.
“Well intended my rear end,” Kendall Eskew posted in the CBS Boston comments. “This was a political statement in brainwashing tiny brains not ready to understand what is actually going on. What a jerk this ‘teacher’ is.”
“How is an attempt to diminish the flag and anthem, followed by a pro-liberal diatribe possibly well-intentioned?” Chris Swezey questioned.
“This teacher should be fired immediately,” Robert Homeyer added. “I have absolutely no problem with anyone protesting anything but to disrespect our flag, our nation, or our way of life on paid company (taxpayer) time is a violation of any employment agreement.
“This person is a disgrace to the whole teaching establishment,” he wrote. “This is NOT what should be taught in our classrooms.”