Sunday, August 27, 2006

Colorado school furls its flags

Amy Oaks, princiapl of Goddard Middle School in Littleton CO, decided to remove thirty foreign flags flying in her school's gym. Her action, or overreaction, came in the wake of the suspension of geography teacher in another school whose principal suspended him after he refused to remove foreign flags on display in his seventh-grade geography classroom.

Oaks seemed uneasy that the Goddard display falls under an exemption allowing the educational flying of foreign flags:

"Perhaps I have a much more cautious interpretation of the law than other people," Oaks said. "I have no idea. I just know that we certainly wouldn't want to be in violation of the state law.
"We don't want it to be anything that anybody would say, 'Do you realize you're violating the law on the wall of your gym?' We don't want that," Oaks said.

Colorado law allows foreign flags in state buildings as part of a temporary display for educational purposes, provided they are not permanently affixed to the building.

The Goddard flags have been up since the 2003-04 school year.

"It kind of feels permanent to me," Oaks said.

Meanwhile, Eric Hamlin, the teacher suspended earlier for his flag display, says he does not want to return to his school even though his school district ruled his display fell under the exemption.

Who knows what happened here? First, it sounds like an unnecessary law. As the Hamlin incident indicates, its enforcement makes the law not worth the trouble. Second, I would question whether there's more at the heart of the dispute between Hamlin and his principal. It seems a rather drastic action for a school to suspend a geography teacher over a flag display. I would think the leader of a school would find a better way to resolve this dispute. Finally, Oaks needs to loosen up and let the flags continue to fly. After all, they are there for the kids not the politicians or media. At least that's the way it should be.

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