August 24, 2006

Politics In The Classroom, And Violating State Law

Jefferson County officials back off, claim flags fall under exception in law. Real agenda revealed once more by teacher:
Going back up in his classroom will be the flags of China, Mexico and the United Nation, which Hamlin is displaying during the first six weeks of the semester.

"The flags should be able to fly to celebrate diversity," Hamlin said.
The flags are not intended as teaching tools, except in the crusade for "diversity" and "multiculturalism". Why else would Hamlin question the law as making it appear that the U.S. flag, in flying alone, is more special than any other flag/country?

"We're not number 1!"

Darin McGregor © News
Seventh-grade teacher Eric Hamlin, 36, poses Wednesday at his home with flags from his classroom. Hamlin was suspended with pay from Carmody Middle School in Lakewood after refusing to remove the flags of Mexico, China and the United Nations, which were displayed in his classroom along with the American flag. Jefferson County school administrators said Hamlin’s principal believed the teacher was violating a state law that bars the display of foreign flags on public property.

What is it with world geography teachers in Colorado?

Taking on state law and disregarding a request from his superiors, Eric Hamlin has already been suspended for refusing to remove foreign flags from his classroom (video):
A seventh-grade geography teacher at Carmody Middle School in Lakewood was suspended with pay Wednesday after he refused to take down foreign flags displayed in his classroom.

Eric Hamlin, 36, said the flags of China, Mexico and the United Nations were relevant to the unit on the fundamentals of geography he teaches in the first six weeks of the semester.

He's used the same display for most of the nine years he's taught in Jefferson County, Hamlin said.

The 3-foot-by-5-foot nylon flags are in addition to the U.S. flag found in all classrooms.

"Since flags are symbols of a nation and the people who live in that nation, if a flag of a foreign nation in a geography class can't be displayed, and only the U.S. flag can be displayed, we're sending the message that America is number one, everything else is below that," Hamlin said.
We can't have students believing that the United States is number one, now, can we?

Maps are fundamental to the study of geography. Flags are not. One might convey the entire meaning of a flag in a lesson that last no more than one single class period. Having taught at the university level, items such as flags or other visual materials usually require no more than a few moments of comment, before moving on. You do not learn the geographic position, importance, or "global perspective" of a country by viewing their flag for weeks at a time. "Cultural awareness", Hamlin's term, comes not from constant viewing of flags, but readings and other materials more suited to the study of other countries and cultures. Hamlin is being naive at best, and disingenuous at worst.

His true agenda, however, goes a bit beyond the mere display of flags in the classroom for any didactic purpose. Like Jay Bennish before him, Hamlin has other issues of concern.

So why is he in trouble, other than showing a general disregard for the primacy that the nation he currently resides in should take over other countries, especially in regard to the display of those countries' flags?
Hamlin received a written reprimand Tuesday. Principal John Schalk escorted Hamlin from the building when the flags were still up on Wednesday morning.

Schalk referred questions to Jefferson County Schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer.

Setzer said Schalk believed Hamlin was in violation of a state law barring display of foreign flags on public property.

Schalk interprets the law as allowing display of foreign flags as part of a specific lesson, but not for the duration of a six-week unit, Setzer said.

Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said Hamlin could have removed the flags, then appealed the principal's decision to higher administrators. By refusing to remove the flags, Hamlin was insubordinate, Stevenson said.

"He defied a direct, reasonable request from a principal. That's what's at issue here," Stevenson said.
Hamlin has already sought and appears to have gained the ACLU's support (not surprising, given their anti-American agenda):
The 2002 law bars the display of foreign flags on state buildings. Among the exceptions are foreign flags used as "part of a temporary display of any instructional or historical materials not permanently affixed or attached to any part of the buildings or grounds . . .."

Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that exception would appear to cover Hamlin's display.
This law is the real target of Hamlin's refusal and insubordination. Flying the American flag could make students patriotic, or think that their country is worth fighting for, despite its faults.

And why just China and Mexico? Surely the flags of Israel and Lebanon could illustrate current events more precisely. Given that the current lesson plan is latitude and longitude and not China's rise in global power or Mexico's election/emigration problems, neither seems appropriate. Get a map, Mr. Hamlin, or several of them--like they had when I took geography.

At least the school district believes that its teachers, and they themselves, are not the appropriate arbiters of the law, and that refusing to comply with state law carries penalties, whether that teacher approves of the law or not. It is comforting to see administrators enforce the law, rather than reflexively backing the teacher, positioning themselves in neutrality, and therefore trying to remain aloof from the debate to follow.

The law:
Colorado Revised Statute 18-11-205. It says: "Any person who displays any flag other than the flag of the United States of America or the state of Colorado or any of its subdivisions, agencies or institutions upon any state, county, municipal or other public building or adjacent grounds within this state commits a class 1 petty offense."


Blogger Joseph said...

Me thinks Mr. Hamlin is mistaking politics with geography. It's obvious he's trying to push his anti-nationalism propaganda off on his students. Mr. Hamlin gets a one finger salute.

Thu Aug 24, 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous The Outlander said...

The justification for diversity is curious given the editorial in The Reporter-Herald today attempts to make the same rationale.

Methinks something is afoot. Like, oh, I don't know: A plan to ban all flags, including the America flag, from public schoolrooms.

Thu Aug 24, 06:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

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Thu Aug 24, 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are all know-nothing idiots--Hamlin is the most patriotic out of all of you because he is actually willing to sacrifice something to uphold this country's Constitution and ideals--unlike the desktop cowboys in this inane forum

Wed Aug 30, 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more power to Eric Hamlin--he is actually standing up for the Constitution and American values unlike the know- nothing ignoramuses in this forum

Wed Aug 30, 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

Would you look at that?! I believe you actually got a few comments from Mr. Eric Hamlin himself.

Would Eric be spending time Googling his own name in search of self importance support? Hmmm.

Either way, it's telling that the poster made his/her comments anonymously. Coward!

Mon Sep 04, 02:35:00 AM  

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