School rejects ‘Merica Day’

A group of residents hold American flags in front of Fort Collins High School in protest of the school's ban on 'Merica Day Tuesday morning Feb. 4, 2014. The school reached a compromise with students and will hold an event on Monday called, "My Country Monday."

Residents protest Fort Collins High School’s ban on “Merica Monday.”

Celebrating America during spirit week might offend immigrants, said Fort Collins High administrators. They rejected students’ request for “Merica Monday,” reports The Coloradoan.

“It’s kind of absurd that we can’t celebrate the country we’re in — whether you’re from it or just visiting,” said Ellie Goodspeed, a senior and treasurer of the school’s student council.

“Building administrators met with the students to discuss the inconsistency of this day versus the other planned theme days, including PJ day and Twin day,” said Poudre School District spokeswoman Danielle Clark in a statement.

Students proposed “My Country Monday” as a compromise. Administrators rejected that idea too, said Goodspeed, but changed their mind on Monday.

Students celebrate the Mexican culture holiday Cinco de Mayo, senior Stephanie Livingston told the Coloradoan.

Remembering the Civil War dead

Today is the 150th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, writes Ilya Somin on Volokh Conspiracy. As Frederick Douglass said in an 1871 speech in honor of the Union war dead, we should not forget “the moral chasm between the two sides.”

We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice.

I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my “right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,” if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict….

. . . If we met simply to show our sense of bravery, we should find enough on both sides to kindle admiration….

But we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic…. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage…. , we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.

Born into slavery in Maryland, Douglass learned to read and write when it was illegal for a slave to do so.  “He made the neighborhood boys his teachers, by giving away his food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing.” He learned oratory from a schoolbook.

Schools can’t assimilate immigrants

Urban schools struggle to educate and assimilate immigrant students — especially those who arrive in their teens, write  Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and Carola Suárez-Orozco, a dean and professor at UCLA.

In 1997, they began a study of newly arrived immigrants, ages 9 to 14, in 20 public middle and high schools in Boston, Cambridge, Mass., and the San Francisco Bay Area. Many were fleeing violence and living in high-crime neighborhoods in the U.S. Asked  “what do you like most about being here?” an 11-year-old Haitian boy in Cambridge said, “There is less killing here.”

The Chechen brothers accused in the Boston bombings were 16 and 9 when they started school in Cambridge. They were not in the study, but they fit the demographic profile.

Many newcomer students attend tough urban schools that lack solidarity and cohesion. In too many we found no sense of shared purpose, but rather a student body divided by race and ethnicity, between immigrants and the native born, between newcomers and more acculturated immigrants. Only 6 percent of the participants could name a teacher as someone they would go to with a problem; just 3 percent could identify a teacher who was proud of them.

. . . many educators, already overwhelmed by the challenges of inner-city teaching, considered immigrant parents uninformed and uninvolved.

Immigrant students who made a friend who spoke English fluently did significantly better in school, they write. But many didn’t interact with native-born students, much less make friends.

Students who did well academically “tended to be enrolled in supportive schools, to have caring teachers, and to develop informal mentorships with coaches, counselors or ministers.”

Catering to “difference” is a mistake, responds Stanley Kurtz in National Review Online. He cites a study by John Fonte and Althea Nagai, America’s Patriotic Assimilation System is Broken, which found a “patriotic gap” between native-born and naturalized citizens. For example, “by roughly 31 points (81% to 50%), the native-born are more likely than immigrant citizens to believe that schools should focus on American citizenship rather than ethnic pride.”

Schools “riven by racial and ethnic divisions and a lack of common purpose” should affirm  “the shared American identity that used to unite this country,” Kurtz concludes.

Hong Kong protests ‘brainwashing’

What so proudly we hail

Gotham Schools features Collett Powell, a Bronx School of Law and Finance graduate, singing the Star Spangled Banner at graduation exercises June 23. Powell earned a Regents diploma and an award for excellence in music.

Many students see citizenship as 'stupid'

It’s not just that many U.S. students don’t know civics or U.S. history, writes Stanford Education Professor William Damon. Increasingly, they don’t care about citizenship.

“Being American is not really special,” said one high school student in a survey.  Another replied that citizenship is “stupid to me,” saying,  “I don’t want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country.”

Many influential educators believe “global citizenship” is the proper aim of civics instruction, not allegiance to the U.S., Damon writes.

As global citizens, it is argued, our primary identification should be with the humanity of the world, and our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice.

Devotion to one’s own nation state, commonly referred to as patriotism, is suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous “my country right or wrong” perspective.

Schools with large immigrant populations neglect teaching students about “American identity and the American tradition,” he writes.

Educational critic Diane Ravitch observed this phenomenon when visiting a New York City school whose principal proudly spoke of the school’s efforts to celebrate the cultures of all the immigrant students. Ravitch writes, “I asked him whether the school did anything to encourage students to appreciate American culture, and he admitted with embarrassment that it did not.”

These and other American students are being urged to identify with, on the one hand, customs from the native lands they have departed and, on the other hand, with the abstract ideals of an amorphous global culture. Lost in between these romantic affiliations is an identification with the nation where these students actually will practice citizenship.

Adding to the dysfunction of this educational choice, as Ravitch writes, is the absurdity of teaching “a student whose family fled to this country from a tyrannical regime or from dire poverty to identify with that nation rather than with the one that gave the family refuge.”

Damon suggests civics instructors teach students to take pride in their country’s best traditions. In our recent history, students could learn about “the civil rights movement that extended rights to millions of citizens,” the victories over totalitarianism that “extended new freedoms to millions of subjugated people in Europe and Asia” and “the building of a middle class that offered economic freedom” to citizens and immigrants alike.

Damon is the author of Failing Liberty 101.

Many students see citizenship as ‘stupid’

It’s not just that many U.S. students don’t know civics or U.S. history, writes Stanford Education Professor William Damon. Increasingly, they don’t care about citizenship.

“Being American is not really special,” said one high school student in a survey.  Another replied that citizenship is “stupid to me,” saying,  “I don’t want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country.”

Many influential educators believe “global citizenship” is the proper aim of civics instruction, not allegiance to the U.S., Damon writes.

As global citizens, it is argued, our primary identification should be with the humanity of the world, and our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice.

Devotion to one’s own nation state, commonly referred to as patriotism, is suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous “my country right or wrong” perspective.

Schools with large immigrant populations neglect teaching students about “American identity and the American tradition,” he writes.

Educational critic Diane Ravitch observed this phenomenon when visiting a New York City school whose principal proudly spoke of the school’s efforts to celebrate the cultures of all the immigrant students. Ravitch writes, “I asked him whether the school did anything to encourage students to appreciate American culture, and he admitted with embarrassment that it did not.”

These and other American students are being urged to identify with, on the one hand, customs from the native lands they have departed and, on the other hand, with the abstract ideals of an amorphous global culture. Lost in between these romantic affiliations is an identification with the nation where these students actually will practice citizenship.

Adding to the dysfunction of this educational choice, as Ravitch writes, is the absurdity of teaching “a student whose family fled to this country from a tyrannical regime or from dire poverty to identify with that nation rather than with the one that gave the family refuge.”

Damon suggests civics instructors teach students to take pride in their country’s best traditions. In our recent history, students could learn about “the civil rights movement that extended rights to millions of citizens,” the victories over totalitarianism that “extended new freedoms to millions of subjugated people in Europe and Asia” and “the building of a middle class that offered economic freedom” to citizens and immigrants alike.

Damon is the author of Failing Liberty 101.

Student told not to fly U.S. flag

On the eve of Veteran’s Day, a California eighth-grader was told not to fly the U.S. flag on his bicycle because Mexican-American students objected.  It was for his own safety, said Denair Superintendent Edward Parraz.

“(The) First Amendment is important,” Parraz said. “We want the kids to respect it, understand it, and with that comes a responsibility.”

Parraz said racial tensions boiled over at the school this year around the Cinco de Mayo holiday.

“Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want,” Parraz said. “We want them to appreciate the cultures.”

Cody Alicea, 13, has been riding to school with the flag since the start of the school year. He folds it — correctly — and puts it in his backpack when he gets to campus.

Once the story got to TV, the superintendent said Cody can fly the flag.