Education Code Section 52720

Had an interesting epiphany related to “patriotism.”  Or… lack thereof… Or… lack of knowing the importance of patriotism… Or … how many California teachers break the education code (sadly… from time-to-time, including me… THE DIFFERENCE… I admit when I am wrong… SOME / FEW / LESS THAN A 100 of my colleagues defend when they choose to be wrong). 

So, let’s start the lesson by citing the education policy. Shall we… and this is for real…

Patriotism.  The Education Code of the State of California, Section 52720, states in part that:  In every public secondary school there shall be conducted DAILY (btw) appropriate patriotic exercises.  The giving of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America shall satisfy such requirement. 

When I saw that the USA men’s basketball team had to play Poland in the FIBA tournament for SEVENTH PLACE, my first thought was, “that is because our best CHOSE not to represent their nation.”  I still stand by the freedom to make the decision.  What makes me SADLY smile is… they don’t have the testicular fortitude to say how they really feel.  They won’t publicly state that their time is more important than representing the USA.  WHICH IS OKAY… Be the man you are and state it.  It’s a valid point.  Don’t be a coward. 

They don’t.

The best of the best decided that their time was more important than representing their sport and their nation.  Do I have a problem with their decision?  ABSOLUTELY!  And… I am not losing sleep over it. 

What I am losing sleep over (not too much) is the lack of patriotism shown on September 11, 2001.  Now, I am going to fault any one person.  No.  I am not. 

On September 11, 2001, I was teaching at Granite Bay High School near Sacramento, California.  Our jazz band class started at 6:30AM…. YES!!  6:30am = jazz band class. 

On my way to work, September 11, 2001,  I heard the terrible news of the first plane hitting the WTC.  By the time my students were walking into my classroom, the second plane hit.  We didn’t play that period. 

Marching band was first period.  By the time I get the close to 95 students to the stadium, the third plane hit the pentagon. 

Over the “all-call,” “Good Morning.  The United States is officially under attack.  We are now on lockdown.  Please follow the procedure for lockdown.  This is not a drill,” says our principal. 

The band students and I are outside.  It starts to sprinkle.  Which is odd for September in Sacramento. 

“Mr. Everts.  Let’s play the National Anthem.”  WOW!!  What a moment.  And from that September 11, 2001, I always have my students play the NATIONAL ANTHEM on September 11.

Well, for some STUPID reason, this year, I had forgotten.  The culture got the best of me. 

At the end of first period September 11, 2019, at the school I currently work at, we were in the parking lot and I stopped the students to play the National Anthem around the half-staff flag in front of the office.

A student, not loud, but loud enough so I could hear him, “This is dumb.  Playing the National Anthem and disrupt classes. Dumb.”  OOOOOOOOO…. WEEEEEEEEEE…. 

I looked at him.  Took my sunglasses off.  “Dumb?  It is dumb to play the National Anthem by the flagpole on 9/11? Dumb?” 

Well, on September 11, 2001, “dumb” wasn’t the first thought that came to mind when our classes were “disturbed” by the news of being “under attack.”   

Anyway… the band did a very nice job playing the National Anthem.  Moment of silence.  Then, off to the band room.  I did have a brief discussion with the student about the importance of our action and how I was sure someone in the office was going to be touched and pleased by our recognition of the moment.  To his credit, the student apologized and said he understood better why we did what we did.  That was a teachable moment. 

Sure enough.  An email to the entire school from one of the secretaries giving the band a pat on the back for their showing patriotism that day.  Yes.  I did share the message with all the band students.  VERY NICE. 

The difference?

In 2001 – the students asked to play the National Anthem

In 2019 – the students did not ask to play the National Anthem and one said it was dumb to disturb the classes. 

Just the difference alone shows the need for such a policy in the Education Code. 

Now, here is the next issue, in regards to patriotism.

Many of the folks (which is a SMALL SMALL SMALL percentage; squeaky wheel gets the grease) who whine / complain about how awful this nation / our nation is … will be the first to be hurt by those nations who do not agree with our nation.  Seriously. 

Many of the folks (which is a SMALL SMALL SMALL percentage; squeaky wheel gets the grease) who whine / complain how awful this nation / our nation is are treated HORRIBLY by other nations.  China – send folks to “camps.”  Middle Eastern countries – throw folks off buildings for who they are.  They burn people to death for who they are.

I would encourage those folks (which is a SMALL SMALL SMALL percentage; squeaky wheel gets the grease) who whine / complain how awful this nation / our nation is to seriously research how they would be treated in China or North Korea or several Middle Eastern countries.  As folks carry their flags or their signs … you should consider carrying a beautiful USA flag in your other hand!  Not upside down.  Not a burning USA flag.  The beautiful / pristine USA flag should be in one hand and … your “cause” should be in the other hand.  If it wasn’t for that symbol of freedom, you would not be able to display your “cause.”   

I am sad to admit that this school year, the first time second period said THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE was on September 13 – some six weeks into the school year.  TERRIBLE OF ME!  TERRIBLE!!  Yet, what was odd … I felt that I had to explain the reason why. I had to “defend” the saying of THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.  No one told me to feel that way.  I get it.  But, with all the negativity the media has about our nation.  The stuff that is said by students, high school and college.  Even stuff (choosing a “nice” word) said by college professors to their students IN CLASS…  I understand why I had the feeling to “defend” saying THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.  Even though, I am “protected” by the Education Code.  And actually… I am “mandated” to show patriotism. 

What are we teaching our children?  I want my students to be taught the truth… AS YOU DO!  HERE IS THE tRUTH:  We will never be a perfect nation.  NEVER.  But, my goodness.. our nation is a great nation.  A nation that loves and supports many other nations.  I can live with our nation’s imperfections.  I can.  Because, I know there will be a time when we will recognize those imperfections and fix them.  I have hope.  You should, as well. 

Loving our nation is OKAY!  Really.  It is okay.  For me?  Loving my nation is more than okay.  Loving my nation is… THE CORRECT THING TO DO. (sorry for ending my last sentence with a preposition)