Friday, August 25, 2006

Sometimes I think most Americans don't think it's appropriate that other countries even exist:

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- A geography teacher has found himself embroiled in controversy after his principal found out he had flags from other countries in his classroom.

The Jefferson County School District said Thursday that it has reinstated the teacher who was suspended because he refused to take down foreign flags hung in his classroom. At the time, he was displaying U.N., Mexican and Chinese flags in class.

Principal John Schalk asked Hamlin to remove the flags because of his concern that the display violated a Colorado law (C.R.S. 18-11-205), the Jeffco School District said....

Hamlin's statements in his own defense seem perfectly reasonable:

Hamlin argued that although his curriculum may not speak specifically about those flags, they are used as reference tools for world geography.

"It's much along the lines of a science teacher who puts up a map of the solar system. They may not spend every day and every lesson talking about Mars, but they want the students to see that and to see the patterns of the planets and the order, and the students will observe that and absorb that learning visually," Hamlin said....

But as Denver Post columnist Jim Spencer notes, this is all a bit suspect:

...Jefferson County school bosses deny it, but Hamlin wonders if the foreign flags hung in his Carmody Middle School classroom in Lakewood would have been such a big deal if he had not displayed a Mexican flag, along with Chinese and United Nations flags.

"If I had put up a Danish flag instead of a Mexican flag," said Hamlin, "I don't know what would have happened."

I bet Hamlin would not have been placed on indefinite paid leave.

... The display of a Mexican flag last year at Denver's North High raised a ruckus because it seemed placed on a par with the American flag.

Hamlin insists that's not the case in his class, where an American flag is permanently ensconced....

Hamlin has been reinstated, though he took a sick day today. And he can display his flags -- under strict guidelines:

District officials agreed Thursday that Hamlin could keep the flags up for six weeks, then exchange them with other flags from his collection of more than 50. The district said he could keep his next set of flags, 25 of them from Middle Eastern nations, up for 12 weeks.

That ought to ensure the continued survival of the United States of America.

(Hat tip: Democratic Underground.)

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