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Thread: Punished for not reciting Mexican pledge of allegiance?

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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    The class project was to recite the Mexican pledge and sing the Mexican national antherm. That's it. All they needed to do was excuse her from the assignment. Anyway, isn't there a better alternate assignment? Recite a sonnet from Shakespeare? An alternate assignment shouldn't be a paper on Mexican Independence - that should already be part of the curriculum If it is more work, how is that not punishment?

    I've had JW students who do not say the pledge to the US flag or participate in singing the Nat'l Anthem. If this student refused based on religious grounds, the teacher and school would have handled it a totally different way. Pledging to any flag for any reason would be against the JW relgious beliefs, no? Since all students have the right to opt out of the US pledge, this shouldn't be any different. I'm actually surprised more students and parents didn't object.

    IMO, their goal was to "win." The teacher didn't back down even though she was wrong.
    Saying the pledge (to the US flag) isn't typically done for a grade. This assignment was. I don't know how the teacher is expected to give a grade on an assignment that the student didn't do if they aren't allowed to assign an alternate assignment. Just excuse her from the assignment? Okay, but then what grade does the teacher give to calculate the over all grade?

    I guess I don't see a half page paper as being a hugely inappropriate assignment to replace standing up and doing a short oral presentation. As a kid, given my druthers between the two, I would have picked the paper every time. I realize not everyone feels that way, but short paper for short speech seems pretty fair to me. Especially if they already covered Mexican Independence in class - she wouldn't even have to do any extra research!

    Again, if she did a good job on the paper and the teacher failed her anyway just for spite, then the teacher was wrong and the student should win the lawsuit. If the student did a crappy job and thus got a crappy grade, then I think that's fair.

    I assume that if any of the other kids had a religious reason to not say the Mexican pledge, they also would have been given the alternative assignment. What makes you think that they wouldn't?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Saying the pledge (to the US flag) isn't typically done for a grade. This assignment was. I don't know how the teacher is expected to give a grade on an assignment that the student didn't do if they aren't allowed to assign an alternate assignment. Just excuse her from the assignment? Okay, but then what grade does the teacher give to calculate the over all grade?

    I guess I don't see a half page paper as being a hugely inappropriate assignment to replace standing up and doing a short oral presentation. As a kid, given my druthers between the two, I would have picked the paper every time. I realize not everyone feels that way, but short paper for short speech seems pretty fair to me. Especially if they already covered Mexican Independence in class - she wouldn't even have to do any extra research!

    Again, if she did a good job on the paper and the teacher failed her anyway just for spite, then the teacher was wrong and the student should win the lawsuit. If the student did a crappy job and thus got a crappy grade, then I think that's fair.

    I assume that if any of the other kids had a religious reason to not say the Mexican pledge, they also would have been given the alternative assignment. What makes you think that they wouldn't?
    Well, the student did offer to sing and recite the US national anthem & pledge in Spanish but the teacher refused. That would have been more on par with the original assignment.

    Teachers often excuse students from assignments for a variety of reasons. It's not that hard to calculate a grade based on 19 scores instead of 20.

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    Is it typically up to the students to define what their own assignments, alternative or otherwise, will be? Imagine if every kid decides that they didn't like any given assignment AND expected to be able to decide what they would do instead. I think it's reasonable that the teacher be allowed to be the one to assign the assignments.

    Eta: I didn't read anywhere that she had a moral problem with writing the paper, only that she received a poor grade for it. I assume this wouldn't be a debate if she had gotten an A. Therefore, I don't think the content of the alternative assignment is the actual problem. She just didnt like her grade on it. I can only speculate about whether the grade was fair, so I can't speak to that piece of it. Certainly, she should have been graded fairly if she was not.
    Last edited by Alissa_Sal; 03-01-2013 at 08:14 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Is it typically up to the students to define what their own assignments, alternative or otherwise, will be? Imagine if every kid decides that they didn't like any given assignment AND expected to be able to decide what they would do instead. I think it's reasonable that the teacher be allowed to be the one to assign the assignments.

    Eta: I didn't read anywhere that she had a moral problem with writing the paper, only that she received a poor grade for it. I assume this wouldn't be a debate if she had gotten an A. Therefore, I don't think the content of the alternative assignment is the actual problem. She just didnt like her grade on it. I can only speculate about whether the grade was fair, so I can't speak to that piece of it. Certainly, she should have been graded fairly if she was not.
    Actually, yes in some cases. There are supplemental reading materials and when parents object, they are usually the ones who offer the alternative. For example, if I didn't want my daughter reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I would go to the teacher and offer a similar book that I didn't object to. When the class was reading or discussing the novel, DD would be in the library or another class working independently. When DD1's biology class was going to be dissecting frogs for the upcoming unit, she downloaded an app on the ipad and took it to her teacher explaining her objections to the dissections and what her intended alternate assignment was. No problems there.

    When something is supplemental (and no one has denied this wasn't a chapter in their Spanish book or part of a district-adopted curriculum), the parents have every right to opt their child out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Is it typically up to the students to define what their own assignments, alternative or otherwise, will be? Imagine if every kid decides that they didn't like any given assignment AND expected to be able to decide what they would do instead. I think it's reasonable that the teacher be allowed to be the one to assign the assignments.

    Eta: I didn't read anywhere that she had a moral problem with writing the paper, only that she received a poor grade for it. I assume this wouldn't be a debate if she had gotten an A. Therefore, I don't think the content of the alternative assignment is the actual problem. She just didnt like her grade on it. I can only speculate about whether the grade was fair, so I can't speak to that piece of it. Certainly, she should have been graded fairly if she was not.
    Actually, yes in some cases. There are supplemental reading materials and when parents object, they are usually the ones who offer the alternative. For example, if I didn't want my daughter reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I would go to the teacher and offer a similar book that I didn't object to. When the class was reading or discussing the novel, DD would be in the library or another class working independently. When DD1's biology class was going to be dissecting frogs for the upcoming unit, she downloaded an app on the ipad and took it to her teacher explaining her objections to the dissections and what her intended alternate assignment was. No problems there.

    When something is supplemental (and no one has denied this wasn't a chapter in their Spanish book or part of a district-adopted curriculum), the parents have every right to opt their child out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    Actually, yes in some cases. There are supplemental reading materials and when parents object, they are usually the ones who offer the alternative. For example, if I didn't want my daughter reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I would go to the teacher and offer a similar book that I didn't object to. When the class was reading or discussing the novel, DD would be in the library or another class working independently. When DD1's biology class was going to be dissecting frogs for the upcoming unit, she downloaded an app on the ipad and took it to her teacher explaining her objections to the dissections and what her intended alternate assignment was. No problems there.

    When something is supplemental (and no one has denied this wasn't a chapter in their Spanish book or part of a district-adopted curriculum), the parents have every right to opt their child out of it.
    Okay but given that you admit that this wasn't supplemental, I'm not sure what that has to do with this.

    Not that he's an expert in this, but I asked DH what he does if a kid or their family has a problem with the books or readings he assigns. He said that typically he gives them a couple of other options to choose from, but that it is usually him defining those options because he is looking to assign something that studies the same themes, or the same writing technique, or whatever it is that he's focusing on with the assignment. This is speculation, but I wonder if they were studying Mexican Independence and Nationalism in class, and that's why the assignments were on the pledge or a paper about that theme. That would make sense for why the student wasn't given the option to recite the US pledge; it wouldn't have anything to do with Mexican Independence.

    Anyway, like I said before, it sounds to me like her problem wasn't with the paper, but with the grade she received on it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    Actually, yes in some cases. There are supplemental reading materials and when parents object, they are usually the ones who offer the alternative. For example, if I didn't want my daughter reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I would go to the teacher and offer a similar book that I didn't object to. When the class was reading or discussing the novel, DD would be in the library or another class working independently. When DD1's biology class was going to be dissecting frogs for the upcoming unit, she downloaded an app on the ipad and took it to her teacher explaining her objections to the dissections and what her intended alternate assignment was. No problems there.

    When something is supplemental (and no one has denied this wasn't a chapter in their Spanish book or part of a district-adopted curriculum), the parents have every right to opt their child out of it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Okay but given that you admit that this wasn't supplemental, I'm not sure what that has to do with this.

    Not that he's an expert in this, but I asked DH what he does if a kid or their family has a problem with the books or readings he assigns. He said that typically he gives them a couple of other options to choose from, but that it is usually him defining those options because he is looking to assign something that studies the same themes, or the same writing technique, or whatever it is that he's focusing on with the assignment. This is speculation, but I wonder if they were studying Mexican Independence and Nationalism in class, and that's why the assignments were on the pledge or a paper about that theme. That would make sense for why the student wasn't given the option to recite the US pledge; it wouldn't have anything to do with Mexican Independence.

    Anyway, like I said before, it sounds to me like her problem wasn't with the paper, but with the grade she received on it.
    No, this absolutely was supplemental.

    There are many issues with the whole thing. I see your DH said that there are options with the same themes or writing technique yet writing a paper in lieu of an oral assignment is neither of those.

    Yes, one of the issues was her grade. No one seems to be able to justify the grade nor the fact that she wasn't allowed to return to the class for the entire semester thus receiving a failing grade for the course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    No, this absolutely was supplemental.

    There are many issues with the whole thing. I see your DH said that there are options with the same themes or writing technique yet writing a paper in lieu of an oral assignment is neither of those.

    Yes, one of the issues was her grade. No one seems to be able to justify the grade nor the fact that she wasn't allowed to return to the class for the entire semester thus receiving a failing grade for the course.
    How is this supplemental? Maybe I'm not using the word correctly, but I always think of supplemental work as being something extra that a student does that is outside of the core assignments provided by the teacher. If this assignment was required, how can it also be supplemental?

    My point was, maybe the "theme" they were studying was Mexican Independence, which is why the paper would fall into the theme, but reciting the US pledge in Spanish would not. I admit that's pure speculation, but it makes sense to me, given the assignments. Also, the other point I was making is that my DH doesn't just allow students to change any assignment that they dislike or disagree with to anything else that they choose. He works with them as best he can, but he doesn't just let them do whatever they want. I can't even imagine running a classroom that way.

    I agree that if she was not graded fairly, that is absolutely wrong and needs to be addressed. I just don't agree that having to write a half page paper instead of giving a short presentation is some sort of egregious violation of her rights.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    How is this supplemental? Maybe I'm not using the word correctly, but I always think of supplemental work as being something extra that a student does that is outside of the core assignments provided by the teacher. If this assignment was required, how can it also be supplemental?

    My point was, maybe the "theme" they were studying was Mexican Independence, which is why the paper would fall into the theme, but reciting the US pledge in Spanish would not. I admit that's pure speculation, but it makes sense to me, given the assignments. Also, the other point I was making is that my DH doesn't just allow students to change any assignment that they dislike or disagree with to anything else that they choose. He works with them as best he can, but he doesn't just let them do whatever they want. I can't even imagine running a classroom that way.

    I agree that if she was not graded fairly, that is absolutely wrong and needs to be addressed. I just don't agree that having to write a half page paper instead of giving a short presentation is some sort of egregious violation of her rights.
    Supplemental means it's in addition to the district-adopted materials. For example, our textbooks came with all sorts of resourses including videos. If I showed one of those video segments, students wouldn't be excused from watching it. I also show videos from the History Channel or PBS and 12 Angry Men and Glory (edited version). Because I am using materials to supplement my teaching, if parents wanted to, they could opt their children out of seeing the movies or video series. That said, even though the National Anthem is in the textbook doesn't mean I can require students to sing it. (Likewise the district in the OP specifically exempts students from having to recite the Dec of Independence.)

    In the case in the OP it's already been established that the teacher/principal used their "training" to determine what materials they would use to supplement the district provided materials. The students were not just reciting the pledge; they were actually pledging allegience to the Mexican flag complete with salute.

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    So you're saying that any assignment that isn't strictly in the text book (to the point of, if the text book doesn't say "read this out loud" then they can't be required to read it out loud) is optional and need not even be given an alternative assignment? Boy, I wish I would have known that as a student!

    She didn't say the pledge, she wrote a paper.
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