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“West Virginia Board of Education V. Barnette” Would Like A Word

, , , , , , , | Learning | September 28, 2022

I moved from Australia to Washington DC for work for a year with my wife and thirteen-year-old son. We are proud Australians, and we try to keep a connection to home; I still watch Aussie Rules football and cricket, and I LOVE vegemite and always have it on hand.

We enrolled my son in the local public school and sent him for his first day. When I came home that night, I asked him:

Me: “How was your day, [Son]?”

Son: “I got in trouble for not pledging allegiance to the flag. I was put on a week of lunchtime detentions.”

I went to the school the next morning and spoke with the principal, who then called the teacher in. This teacher had a major attitude and was throwing out lines such as, “I did not fight for this country for the flag to be disrespected,” and something about “attitude problems”.

When I had a chance, I asked:

Me: “Would you pledge allegiance to the Australian flag?”

Teacher: “Of course not.”

Me: “That’s what you’re trying to make my son do — pledge to a flag he has no connection to.”

This teacher would not budge.

Teacher: “Every time [Son] refuses to pledge, he will get a week of lunch detentions.”

[Son] ended up changing classes, and his new teacher was a sweet older teacher who even had my son do a presentation about Australia and share vegemite sandwiches and fairy bread with the class.

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