Parents Who Failed Their Children’s Civics Class

Teacher burns flag in class. Tells students to write essay about their reactions and to tell their parents. Parents flip out and want him fired. School reassigns him and investigates the incident for… wait for it… the fire hazard aspect:

Dan Holden, who teaches seventh-grade social studies, burned small flags in two different classes Friday and asked students to write an opinion paper about it, district spokeswoman Lauren Roberts said.

A teacher in the school district since 1979, Holden has been temporarily reassigned to non-instructional duties pending a district investigation. The district also alerted city fire officials, who are conducting their own investigation.

“Certainly we’re concerned about the safety aspect,” Roberts said, along with “the judgment of using that type of demonstration in a class.”

I actually used to enjoy teachers who did provocative and hands-on education instead of merely lecturing about things like flag burning. I’m pretty sure that the lesson here was that it’s perfectly okay to be angry about burning the flag, but the act itself is to be protected. Too bad the students will only learn the censorship lesson hands-on instead.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. Well, there actually ARE safety concerns as well as insurance issues with burning stuff in classrooms.

    Go down the hall and you will find Bunsen burners and poisonous chemicals. The difference is that science teachers take a required safety class (they are lame and worthless, BTW) and must have on hand equipment to deal with emergencies as well as MSDS guides for all chemicals. All required by insurance carriers.

    The teacher could have just as easily cut the flag into little pieces with a pair of scissors to the same effect.

  2. Burning seems to have more of an effect than other forms of destruction. People arent running around foaming at the mouth about “flag cutting.”

  3. Maybe he could have taken the kids down the hall, and asked them to wait outside the bathroom while he “expressed his opinion” on the flag. I wonder what reaction that would get…

    Seriously, if he did it in a safe manner (I’m thinking something like a stone circle, similar to what could be found at a public campground) keeping the kids well away, there’s no reason for any action to be taken. If in the classroom, well, I suppose I’d question the teachers’ judgement myself.

  4. could have just as easily cut the flag into little pieces with a pair of scissors

    and used Children’s Story as the accompanying textbook. Would have been a much more valuable lesson.

  5. I reckon, force the little buggers to read “Lord of the Flies”, THEN get them to hunt and KILL the fattest kid in the class…sure would teach ’em about Gummint dietary requirements!

  6. What happened to teaching the basics and leaving political commentary to the streets, TV, internet and parents?

    I am just fed up with my tax dollars going for such crap in schools.

    I don’t care which side of the fence the teacher is on, whether it be liberal, conservative or anything in between, teach the little darlings how to read and write.

    Been shopping lately people? Hell, no clerks can do simple math anywhere if the COMPUTERS are down. I can. I learned math with math books, pencils and reams of notebook paper, not a computer or calculater.

  7. Julian: burning a flag in and of itself isn’t political commentary, it depends on the context it’s being burned in. Considering all he did was ask their views on it, I don’t see where the political commentary comes in on his part.

    That is, unless you automatically assume that anyone who burns a flag is a hippie/commie/terrorist/whatever…

  8. b-psycho

    Burning the flag in itself is not commentary but the opinions he expects to elicit from the students are going to be controversial. Everyone has an opinion about whether burning the flag is OK, therefore he is operating in the grey area by fueling passions. Personally I don’t care if you burn the flag or not but if you do, hopefully you are wrapped in it.

    Taxpayer funded public schools are no place to elicit political passions or as most teachers do, force their personal morals and politics on the students.

    Again, teach the basics, the 3 R’s, and leave the rest of indoctrination of children to the parents.

  9. I agree that schools generally should be sticking to basics, but this was a civics class and I think the teacher was right to get students to think for themselves about freedom of speech and patriotism.

    If the civics class only went as far as to say “it’s your duty to vote” without emphasizing that people need to think before they vote, what’s the point of that.

  10. A) Schools should be funded voluntarily, not through compulsory force.

    B) A tiny flag being burned is hardly a risk to anyone. Schools can often be too over-protective. Who wants to bet the school system will eventually fire him because he didn’t make the students wear safety-glasses while he burned the flag?

    C) There is nothing inherently unpatriotic about burning a symbol of the government. When the flags are horizontal, it’s the governmental flag. When the strips are vertical, it’s the civilian flag.

  11. “Schools can often be too over-protective.”

    This is true. But private insurance carriers are also over-protective. You would have the same problem in a private school. I could not burn things in my (privately funded) classroom without taking the required precautions. If I did and got ratted out, then it would have been possible for the school to loose their liability coverage on the building. That would result in shutting down the building.

    There actually ARE safety and liability concerns.

    “Schools should be funded voluntarily, not through compulsory force.”

    I, of course, could not agree more.

  12. Mr. Moore writes, “This is true. But private insurance carriers are also over-protective. You would have the same problem in a private school. I could not burn things in my (privately funded) classroom without taking the required precautions.”

    I don’t disagree with any of that. At least with private schools, parents would get more of a choice regarding how much the school babies his or her children. But in the end, private schools certainly will have just as much (and arguably more) incentive to ensure the total safety of the children it holds as public schools.

    My point-B wasn’t so much a political point or a problem specifically with public schools, but rather more so an observation I made back when I was in middle school and again in high school, something which always tended to annoy me as a student.

    Alex Peak

  13. I don’t even understand what GreginOz’s point is, but I agree with him. Hunting and killing the fat kid sounds like more fun than burning some stupid symbol.

    Then again, you’ve got to remember that it was all boys on the “Lord of the Flies” island. It seems to be that if there were girls present the boys would have been to busy fucking to care about some nerdy porker.

    Maybe the middle-ground is to have the kids rape and kill the fattest girl by shoving the flag down her throat. That’s probably educational, right?

    I really feel like I’ve solved something today. Hooray for me! :D