Calvin Freiburger

California Screamin’: Another Educator Is Offended by the Stars & Stripes

Posted on May 12 2010 9:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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These days, America’s cultural elites can be counted on to go to the ends of the earth to ensure that nobody is ever offended.

Nobody, that is, except patriotic Americans.

First came the sorry tale of the California school which decided American flag t-shirts had to be banned on Cinco de Mayo, and last night, Sean Hannity highlighted another Golden State education scandal when he interviewed thirteen-year-old Taryn Hathaway, the seventh-grade artist behind the flag pictured above, and her mother Tracy:

HANNITY: Alright, so you drew a beautiful picture of the American flag, “God bless America.” What happened from there?

TARYN HATHAWAY: She walked up to me and said it was offensive and I asked why? And then she just walked away not telling me why.

HANNITY: And you never got an explanation as to why?



HANNITY: Alright. And tell us about — you had another student in the class that drew a picture of Barack Obama. I assume they had a little, you know, bubble that said “Yes, we can,” chant — you know, I mean —


HANNITY: What did the teacher say to that?

TARYN HATHAWAY: She said, “Thank you for supporting our country.”

HANNITY: Wow. Now —


HANNITY: Mom, you and apparently your husband stepped into this and you met — you went to school. What happened from there?

TRACY HATHAWAY: We had a meeting with the principal and the teacher. And my husband asked her point blank, what do you find offensive about my daughter‘s art? The flag or God bless America?

She didn’t have an answer for us. And she still hasn’t answered. She then said that she didn’t say that, that she never said the flag was offensive, the drawing was offensive. It wasn’t until later in the meeting when she found out that another student in the class had heard what she’d said that she backtracked and said well, I could have said it, I can’t remember if I said it.

Santa Rita Union School District Superintendent Mike Brusa has leapt into damage control mode on behalf of teacher Peggy Saunders, speculating that the whole issue “may” be a big misunderstanding, as Saunders’ class “may” have been “working on the Yellow Ribbon project, which sends care packages to military in war zones,” and if that was the case, the problem was simply that flags weren’t supposed to have writing of any kind.

I wasn’t there, but Brusa’s version of events—which he admits is speculation—doesn’t pass the smell test:

  1. The Hathaways already have an explanation of the exercise’s subject: the artistic technique pointillism, not a troop drive.
  2. If the kids were supposed to be making art for troops, why the heck was Obama acceptable subject matter?  Presumably, sitting presidents are generally understood to be more controversial and potentially divisive that “God Bless America,” no?
  3. If Saunders’ objection was as Brusa describes it, she certainly would have offered it at the meeting with the parents and principal, in which case the principal would have no reason to “apologize,” or to be “appalled” at Saunders’ actions, nor would Saunders have had any reason to initially deny her remarks, then change her story.
  4. Granted, this all comes down to the Hathaways’ word against Brusa’s, and it’s theoretically possible that the family is being disingenuous.  But in all likelihood, they’re telling the truth. For one thing, Saunders may have been on sick leave Tuesday, but surely it couldn’t have been too hard for the superintendent of the school district to have verified what happened at the parent meeting with Principal John Gutierrez? Indeed, if, as he claims, the incident was resolved in April, then there’s even less of an excuse for him not to be clear on the facts. (He might also consider refraining from speculation at all until he had the chance to speak with both of the educators involved, not to mention the parents.)  For another thing, we already know that their ordeal is far from an isolated incident: leftist and anti-American classroom bias & indoctrination is all too common these days.

The most pitiful thing about this story might be the way Brusa makes the poor, beleaguered school district out to be the victims of the affair:

Hundreds of e-mails to the Santa Rita Union School District in Salinas questioning the patriotism of educators over an art project with American flags and symbols “jumped the gun [Brusa said]…This upset me because I don’t need to be lectured about patriotism…We’re getting the reaction of people who don’t know all the facts. They know a few facts and fire off an e-mail. What’s most disturbing is that something as wonderful as the Internet can be used as a virtual mob.”

Translation: my teachers screwed up, and you’re at fault for noticing. Is Brusa suggesting that it’s some great logical leap to think a teacher who objects to the Stars & Stripes might be unpatriotic? Doesn’t the community have the right to be angry at reprimanding a kid over an innocent flag?

Chalk this one up as yet another school district caught in the grip of an establishment that values leftism over learning and casually scorns the values and concerns of the community’s parents, viewing them instead as the ignorant rabble, little more than revenue sources to keep their bureaucratic boondoggles afloat.  The same scene has been repeating itself in thousands of schools across the nation for years—it’s way past time for America to say “enough.”


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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