Michigan teacher reportedly yanked a Black student who sat during pledge of allegiance
Adults should not be unsettled by self-possessed pre-teens. Adults should know that inflicting physical discipline on other people’s children is an egregious error. Adults should also know everybody does not share their worldviews or dedication to patriotic performance. One Michigan teacher can reflect on these truisms after she was placed on administrative leave and while she is under investigation for reportedly snatching up a Black sixth grader, from behind, after he sat during the Pledge of Allegiance earlier this month, according to reports from ClickOnDetroit.
The East Middle School student, Stone Chaney, told ClickOnDetroit his reasoning: “I don’t stand because I don’t pledge to a flag,” Chaney said. “I pledge to God and family.”
Per ClickonDetroit, the teacher at issue not only teaches middle school students but she also trains teachers. The teacher’s capacity as a dual educator and trainer highlights why this alleged incident should be remedied. Physical “correction” for a student’s non-violent speech, with which she presumably disagrees, cannot be the kind of best practice the Farmington Hills community endorses.
“The teacher consultant comes up behind me and snatches me out of my chair violently,” Stone said. “I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.” He said that a different teacher yelled at him, the day after the physical incident, for sitting during the pledge.
Brian Chaney, Stone’s father, supported his son’s decision — to abstain from pledging allegiance to the American flag — at a school board meeting and in the press. “It’s his choice to sit,” Brian Chaney said. “I don’t make him sit. And they should respect that.”
The Farmington Public School superintendent released the following statement:
“The District fully supports the right of each student to participate or not in the daily Pledge. The teacher allegedly involved in the incident has been placed on administrative leave. At this time, the District cannot speculate about the outcome of the pending investigation.”
As everyday citizens, public figures, activists and people in-between continue a quest for societal equity and inclusion, policymakers should keep the proper focus. For people with identities at the margins, decisions to observe patriotic rituals are complex and burdensome. In a country that supposedly protects political speech, people should be able to express disconnects between American rituals and themselves (if they so choose).
While consequences do flow from political speech, it is unacceptable for an adult teacher to abuse her power dynamic over a child because the student expresses ideas that place nobody in danger, save for the peaceful, sitting child.