Teacher burns flag in classroom/ Reason? To motivate students



  • http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.d…EWS01/608220378

    Stuart Middle School teacher burns U.S. flags in class
    Lesson causes uproar in Jefferson

    By Chris Kenning
    ckenning@courier-journal.com
    The Courier-Journal

    A Stuart Middle School teacher has been removed from the classroom after he burned two American flags in class during a lesson on freedom of speech, Jefferson County Public Schools officials said.

    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.”

    Pat Summers, whose daughter was in Holden’s class, said he was among more than 20 parents upset about the incident at school yesterday. Holden apparently told the students to ask their parents what they thought about the lesson, he said.

    "She said, ‘Our teacher burned a flag.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ " Summers said. “When I was (at the school) at 8 a.m., the lobby was filled with probably 25 or 30 parents” who were upset, he said.

    Holden could not be reached yesterday for comment.

    Roberts said the flag burning did not appear to be politically motivated, based on an interview with Holden. :roll:

    Summers said no advance notice had been given to parents, nor were school administrators aware of Holden’s plans, Roberts said.

    Stuart sixth-grader Kelsey Adwell, 11, said students were abuzz about the incident yesterday.

    “They just can’t believe that a teacher would do that – burn two American flags in front of the class,” she said. “A teacher shouldn’t do that, even though it was an example.”

    Kentucky has a statute last amended in 1992 making desecration of a national or state flag in a public place a misdemeanor, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that flag desecration is protected speech.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said the federal ruling would trump the state statute.

    Congress has tried unsuccessfully to prohibit flag burning with a constitutional amendment. The latest attempt failed in the Senate this year.

    Beth Wilson, director of Kentucky’s ACLU, said the district is allowed to decide what’s instructionally appropriate.

    But “if a school is masking their objections to flag burning under the guise of safety, it raises questions about freedom of speech and academic freedom,” she said. She said her group would monitor the case but did not plan to get involved at this point.

    Regardless, school board member Pat O’Leary said the flag burning was unnecessary and could have offended some students, including those in military families.

    “A teacher doesn’t do that,” he said. “It’s just disrespectful.”

    Rebecca Creech, a Stuart sixth-grader, said she also thought it was “wrong.”

    Ginny Adwell, Kelsey’s mother and the school’s PTA president, said some parents who called for Holden to be fired were “going a little bit overboard” and should remember that the teacher was trying to provoke thought.

    Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, said Holden has “been teaching for many years, and has by all accounts a good teaching record. It was not a political statement and was meant to illustrate a controversial issue. To fire someone because of that would be inappropriate,” he said. “It wasn’t like he was taking one side or another.”

    McKim said he was gathering facts that would determine whether the district was justified in removing Holden from the classroom.

    In 2001, a teacher in Sacramento, Calif., faced suspension for using a lighter to singe a corner of an American flag in class.

    The teacher later was fired, but district officials cited numerous acts of poor judgment and disregard for superiors.

    Reporter Chris Kenning can be reached at (502) 582-4697.

    To borrow the response to this topic from a friend of mine, I believe he said it best:

    _A couple things:

    First of all…I don’t want to hear him say burning the flag in front of a classroom of students had no political motive. I’m sure a little investigation into his background would provide plenty of evidence.

    Secondly, I don’t think he should be fired…but slapped around and yelled at good. How dare you take advantage of kids at an impressionable age with your backhanded political tactics? Clearly you are in favor of flag burning as a protected right…otherwise you would never have done this at all.

    This event…although very disagreeable to me personally…might’ve had the proper forum had it been done in a COLLEGE LEVEL political science class…with prior consent given…but 7th grade? Were I his boss…I would put this guy on probation…and have his classes video taped to assure he’s sticking to the required school curiculum.

    -Warlock_



  • The guy should be fired for being an idiot.  Setting a fire in a grade 7 class shows terrible judgement.  Burning the flag as an educator is IMO inappropriate - more so than if he were to lead the class in prayer.



  • The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said the federal ruling would trump the state statute.

    The depressing thing about this is that they’re probably right; I can’t remember the last time a State ruling superseded a Federal ruling when they came into conflict :|.

    On the other hand, I can’t remember the last time I agreed with CC on anything political, and that’s what we seem to be doing here; so who knows, maybe there’s still hope! 😉 😄



  • Interesting I didn’t hear about this, living in KY and all.

    The funny thing is, I bet every kid in his class thought it was awesome - until they told their parents.

    He’s got a right to burn it, but a classroom - hell, indoors - is not the appropriate place.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    He has the privalege to burn it at this time.  Obviously safety was never a concern in regards to protecting this as a method of utilizing your freedom of speech or anyone doing this would be arrested for their own safety.

    There’s countless incidences of people burning flags and setting themselves on fire.  Personally, I think it is poetic justice, but realistically we have to realize that fire is not something to play with.

    Meanwhile, how can you punish him for firehazard when you use bunsen burners in chemistry, biology, physical sciences and geology classes?



  • Supervised with permission vs. Unsupervised without permission. (Not to mention insurance costs).



  • Well,
    Typically science labs have controlled environments for open flames, as well as nearby equipment for extinguishing these flames.
    Also i think that grade 7 is a little young for this kind of frank indoctrination.  Even if he was just making a point with regards to “free speach” - there are many ways of making this point that is not so controversial.  I suppose that this is a great issue for chidren equipped mentally to grapple with these larger issues, but 13 y/o’s are . . . really not that smart.
    (yes, some are, but i’ve had to test too many for STI’s to label them as “generally quite bright”)


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    What does STI stand for?

    13 year olds are probably not mature enough to handle fire anyway.  And yes, science labs are usually flame resistant.  Then again, have you seen the average american classroom?  The things are not exactly fire friendly…dunno how well linoleum, plastic, aluminum and cinderblock burn. 😛



  • sexually transmitted infections


  • 2007 AAR League

    Did anyone ever mention the condition the flag was in? Maybe he was just demonstrating the proper way to dispose of an old flag 😉


  • Moderator

    If that was the case, I think it would have been specified and he would have defended himself for such action…

    GG



  • @cystic:

    The guy should be fired for being an idiot.  Setting a fire in a grade 7 class shows terrible judgement.  Burning the flag as an educator is IMO inappropriate - more so than if he were to lead the class in prayer.

    From what I ahve heard, these were tiny flags, index card sized.

    As for setting fires in a classroom…
    I guess my Science teachers all need to be fired too.  I still remember the demo of dust explosions using a coffee can, flour, and a flame (huge fireball).  And of course Bunsen Burners…

    Let’s just wrap our kids in bubble wrap, blindfold them, plug their ears… lets do anythign we can to isolate them from ANYTHING.  18 year old newborns shold be quite grand for our society.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    @ncscswitch:

    @cystic:

    The guy should be fired for being an idiot.  Setting a fire in a grade 7 class shows terrible judgement.  Burning the flag as an educator is IMO inappropriate - more so than if he were to lead the class in prayer.

    From what I ahve heard, these were tiny flags, index card sized.

    As for setting fires in a classroom…
    I guess my Science teachers all need to be fired too.  I still remember the demo of dust explosions using a coffee can, flour, and a flame (huge fireball).  And of course Bunsen Burners…

    Let’s just wrap our kids in bubble wrap, blindfold them, plug their ears… lets do anythign we can to isolate them from ANYTHING.  18 year old newborns shold be quite grand for our society.

    See, we can agree on something.  Fire in social studies is equivalent to fire in chemistry.



  • It is a school building, the whole darn thing is fire resistant.

    now, if he burned it on a stack of paper, then he is an idiot.  If he took the most basic precaution, then no he is not, not from a safety standpoint anyway.

    Besides, when i was in HS, we had LOTS of small fires in school… boys and girls bathrooms by everyone who smoked comes immediately to mind…



  • "Frankly, these kids are too young and inexperienced to have a reasonable basis for consideration of the nuances of the issue for discussion. I’m sure they don’t think I’m right, but I am. I suspect it was intended as a harmless, but ill-thought-out lesson by the teacher. But people who can’t think through the consequences of such a “lesson” don’t need to be in a position of teaching kids.

    The students need a few more years to grow up before tackling this question, and in my view the teacher needs to do some growing up too."-Marswolf.

    Not my words, but it pretty much sums it up for me.



  • Just noticed your sig there Yahoshua.  Love the JSM quote, had to memorize it at USAFA.

    Why did you change “men” to “persons” though?  Not an accurate quote that way…



  • That’s the way I copy/pasted the quote from another member on another forum. I saw the quotes a little diff. on other sites too, but I didn’t concern myself too much with it. I view the word “Men” as being all inclusive, although you are right that it’d be more clear to the general public with the word “persons.”



  • USAFA version (from Contrails, Class of 1991 edition):

    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.  The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.  The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.



  • I see how that can be more universal but at the very end it switches to the address of a man……so it looks like it really does fold both ways.  🙂

    Not that I’m going to be picky about it.


  • 2018 2017 2016 '11 Moderator

    Because men are cheuvanistic pigs that would vote in rape if they thought women would let them get away with it?

    That’s why we poor girls were held down so men could escape the chores of running a family???

    Oh wait, I liked my pedastle…why do I have to work now?  Stupid women’s libers!  Can we rewind and let women stay at home all day with the kids, bake, clean and watch TV???  Please???


  • 2007 AAR League

    men love being with their families.  Just sometimes there are way more important things to do in life for men.  Like punching each other, the neverending eternal game of burnout.  😛



  • Or playing videogames like “Crash and Burn,” or “Doom,” or running around in our birthday suits on the field during an NFL game.

    😃

    But hey, at least you girls weren’t subject to the draft back in the day when women mostly stayed at home.

    Although I can see how a womans’ life would become very much repetitive and BORING just sitting around at home, which is why the boardgame industry was booming in those days (I’ve been un-employed for about 2 months now and it’s driving me insane, one would think it’d be easier to get  ajob in the big city).


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