Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Making a Mockery of Multiculturalism

By Walt Gardner — March 03, 2014 1 min read

The courts have long ruled that free speech is not an absolute right. But not until a recent decision did I realize just how restricted it is (“Court: School can ban US flag shirts for safety,” USA Today, Feb. 27).

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that school officials have wide latitude in limiting the civil rights of students in order to ensure safety. The case involved students who were ordered to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out during the on-campus celebration of Cinco de Mayo at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif. The three-judge panel said that past events on the campus “made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real.”

I agree that the safety of students is paramount. But I think that school officials overreacted when they effectively banned display of the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. If multiculturalism is a valid goal, then what Live Oak High School did is hypocritical because it sends the unambiguous message that one group is superior to another. Moreover, it is a tacit admission that the school has failed in teaching tolerance.

What other conclusions can reasonably be drawn? Mexican students have every right to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or any other holiday, but so do other students have the right to demonstrate their patriotism. It is not disrespectful to either group to allow them to do so. Unless school officials can show that a clear and present danger to the safety of students exists, their action makes a travesty of multiculturalism.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read