From [HERE] Racist suspect Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is defending a state law that requires schoolchildren to say the Pledge of Allegiance by joining a lawsuit that could determine the legality of similar mandates nationwide.
On Tuesday, Paxton intervened in a lawsuit that was filed against the Cypress Fairbanks school district last October. Kizzy Landry sued the district and several officials after a principal kicked her daughter, India, out of school for sitting during the Pledge.
Landry supported her child's decision to sit. And while Texas allows parents to sign a waiver letting their child opt out of saying the Pledge, Landry contends that the law requiring kids to say it in the first place violates their free speech rights. Paxton disagreed, arguing: "School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge."
"Requiring the pledge to be recited at the start of every school day has the laudable result of fostering respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country," Paxton said in a prepared statement. "This case is about providing for the saying of the pledge of allegiance while respecting the parental right to direct the education of children."
The case is set for trial April 15. Experts said its outcome could have ripple effects nationwide.
"We've only ever seen one case litigated involving the mandate to say the Pledge in modern history," Frank LoMonte, one of the nation's foremost experts on free speech and student rights, said in an interview. "If this one were to go up [to the U.S. Supreme Court], it would be quite influential, not just in Texas but across the country as the first of its kind."
India said that by age 17, she had refused to stand for the Pledge around 200 times. Then she switched schools to Windfern School of Choice in Houston, where the staff began to discipline her for sitting. When she refused to stand for the Pledge while in the principal's office, she was kicked out of school.
"This is not the NFL," a school secretary told India, according to the lawsuit. "Principal [Martha] Strother suggested that, instead of sitting, India could write about justice and African Americans being killed."
For four days, the Landrys were told that India, who is black, couldn't come back to school until she agreed to stand for the Pledge. They refused and instead went on television to criticize the school's statements. The next day, the principal reversed her decision and let India return.
But her mother said her daughter's grades suffered. India, now 18, did not graduate. It's unclear whether Kizzy Landry signed a waiver to let India opt out of the Pledge.
She was inspired by NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the killings of unarmed black men, women and children by police.
“I felt the flag doesn’t represent what it stands for, liberty and justice for all and I don’t feel what is going on in the country, so it was my choice to remain seated, silently,” Landry told the Chronicle. “It was a silent protest.” [MORE]
In July, a federal judge refused to throw out the case, saying that India could proceed with First Amendment free speech and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection claims against the district and its leaders.
The attorney general has the right to intervene in cases when the constitutionality of a state law is questioned. On Tuesday, Paxton filed a motion to do so.
The district, in responding to a request for comment, reiterated that state law requires students to stand for the Pledge unless their parents sign a waiver.
The Landrys' attorney, Randall Kallinen, criticized Paxton's statements as "very political." The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas agreed.
"Once again, it appears that Ken Paxton is using his authority to foster division within our state through political posturing," said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. "Educators and lawmakers alike should take this as an opportunity to create a discourse on civic engagement, rather than to punish students."
Paxton argues that the Supreme Court has upheld a parent or guardian's "fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children. That interest rightfully includes determining whether their children should participate in the time-honored tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag."
LoMonte, the free speech and student rights expert, disagreed, citing other cases.
In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that forcing schoolchildren to salute the flag violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Then, in 1969, the court ruled that school officials can suppress students' free speech rights only if they can prove the conduct would "materially and substantially interfere" with the school's operation.
States have tried to skirt these rulings by allowing parents to let their kids opt in or out of saying the Pledge. A Florida law similar to Texas' was upheld after its legality was challenged. But the Supreme Court didn't take up the case, meaning the precedent applies only in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
LoMonte said punishing a child for refusing to stand flies in the face of the earlier Supreme Court decisions.
"A school cannot impose discipline on somebody who does nothing more than quietly sit down," he said. "The issue of the parental waiver certainly muddies the law, as there is definitely some strain of legal authority that says parents have a constitutional right to decide how their kids are raised."
LoMonte said the case could imperil compulsory Pledge laws across the country if it ends up in the Supreme Court, a process that could take years.
“The purported purpose of schools is to teach reading, writing, mathematics, and other academic fields of thought. But the message that institutions of “education” actually teach, far more effectively than any useful knowledge or skills, is the idea that subservience and blind obedience to “authority” are virtues. Simply consider the environment in which the majority of people spend most of their formative years. Year after year, students live in a world in which:
• They receive approval, praise and reward for being where “authority” tells them to be, when “authority” tells them to be there. They receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for being anywhere else. (This includes the fact that they are coerced into being in school to begin with.)
• They receive approval, praise and reward for doing what “authority” tells them to do. They receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for doing anything else, or for failing to do what “authority” tells them to do.
• They receive approval, praise and reward for speaking when and how “authority” tells them to speak., and receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for speaking at any other time, in any other way, or about any subject other than what “authority” tells them to speak about, or for failing to speak when “authority” tells them to speak.
• They receive approval, praise and reward for repeating back whatever ideas the “authority” declares to be true and important, and receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for disagreeing, verbally or on a written test, with the opinions of those claiming to be “authority,” or for thinking or writing about subjects other than what “authority” tells them to think or write about.
• They receive approval, praise and reward for immediately telling “authority” about any problems or personal conflicts they encounter, and receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for trying to solve any problems or settle any disagreements on their own.
• They receive approval, praise and reward for complying with whatever rilles, however arbitrary, “authority” decides to impose upon them. They receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for disobeying any such rules. These rules can be about almost anything, including what clothes to wear, what hairstyles to have, what facial expression to have, how to sit in a chair, what to have on a desk, what direction to face, and what words to use.
• They receive approval, praise and reward for telling the “authority” when another student has disobeyed “the rules,” and receive disapproval, reproach and punishment for failing to do so.
The students clearly and immediately see that, in their world, there are two distinct classes of people, masters (”teachers”) and subjects (”students”), and that the rules of proper behavior are drastically different for the two groups. The masters constantly do things that they tell the subjects not to do: boss people around, control others via threats, take property from others, etc. This constant and obvious double standard teaches the subjects that there is a very different standard of morality for the masters than there is for the subjects. The subjects must do whatever the masters tell them to, and only what the masters tell them to, while the masters can do pretty much anything they want.
Not long ago, the masters would even routinely commit physical assault (i.e. “corporal punishment”) against subjects who did not quickly and unquestioningly do as they were told, while telling the subjects that it was completely unacceptable for them to ever use physical violence, even in self-defense, especially in self-defense against the masters. Thankfully, the use of regular, overt physical violence by “teachers” has become uncommon. However, though the force has become less obvious, the basic methods of authoritarian control and punishment remain.
In the classroom setting, the “authority” can change the rules at will, can punish the entire group for what one student does, and can question or search any student – or all students – at any time. The “authority” is never seen as having any obligation to justify or explain to the students the rules it makes, or anything else it does. And it is of no concern to “authority” whether a student has a good reason to think that us time would be better spent being somewhere else, doing something else, or thinking about something else. The “grades” the student receives, the way he is treated, the signals he is sent – written, verbal, and otherwise – all depend upon one factor: his ability and willingness to unquestioningly subvert his own desires, judgment and decisions to those of “authority.” If he does that, he is deemed “good.” If he does not, he is deemed “bad.”
This method of indoctrination was not accidental. Schooling in the United States, and in fact in much of the world, was deliberately modeled after the Prussian system of “education,” which was designed with the express purpose of training people to be obedient tools of the ruling class, easy to manage and quick to unthinkingly obey, especially for military purposes. As it was explained by Johann Fichte, one of the designers of the Prussian system, the goal of this method was to “fashion” the student in such a way that he “simply cannot will otherwise” than what those in “authority” want him to will. At the time, the system was openly admitted to be a means of psychologically enslaving the general populace to the will of the ruling class. And it continues to accomplish exactly that, all over the world, including in the United States.
The reason most people do whatever “authority” tells them to, regardless of whether the command is moral or rational, is because that is exactly what they were trained to do. Everything about authoritarian “schooling” (and authoritarian parenting), even the modern version that pretends to be caring and open-minded, continually hammers into the heads of the youngsters the notion that their success, their goodness, their very worth as human beings, is measured by how well they obey “authority.” [MORE]