In the name of educating students about a foreign culture, a teacher in McAllen, Tex., required students in her intermediate Spanish class to memorize and individually recite the Mexican national anthem and pledge of allegiance — but one student objected, catching the attention of the school district and The Blaze, which reported the story this morning.
Fifteen-year-old Brenda Brinsdon refused to complete the assignment and, instead, complained to the teacher, principal and, eventually, with the help of her father, William, the school district superintendent. The response of the teacher? Reyna Santos explained that she grew up in Mexico and loved the country. The response of the principal? Yvette Cavazo told Brinsdon it was part of the curriculum and she should participate. The response of the school district superintendent? School district spokesman Mark May told The Blaze the assignment was no different than memorizing a poem or a passage of Shakespeare.
Brinsdon was particularly bothered by the timing of the assignment, which came last month during “Freedom Week,” the week after the Tenth Anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In fact, the assignment came on Constitution Day itself — the same day as Mexico’s Independence Day.
Said Brinsdon’s father: “Our kids don’t even know the [American] national anthem and here we are … teaching them to memorize and perform the national anthem for Mexico. I just think it’s so backwards.”
He also objected to May’s characterization of the assignment as just another memorization exercise, saying that that cheapens the notion of a pledge. “You‘re taking their allegiance and their oath from Mexico and cheapening it just as a grade or words [that] don’t mean anything,” he said.
To the school district’s credit, Brinsdon wasn’t forced to participate: She was given an alternate assignment — an essay on the history of the Mexican revolution.
Here’s a thought: Why not just study the Mexican pledge of allegiance? Read it in a textbook, diagram its sentences, dissect its meaning. Certainly it makes sense to study the culture of other countries. But leave the out-loud recitation of any kind of loyalty oath for the U.S. pledge of allegiance (which, interestingly enough, is increasingly less recited in U.S. schools). You can bet plenty of students in non-English-speaking competitive countries (a) learn English, (b) study the political, economic and cultural systems of the United States and (c) never recite the U.S. pledge of allegiance in school.
If the point is to memorize and recite a passage in Spanish (it was a Spanish class, after all), recite a translation of the U.S. pledge. That’s what we did in my Spanish 3 class in high school and it stuck with me …
Juro fidelidad a la bandera de los Estados Unidos de America y a la república que simboliza, una nación bajo Dios, indivisible con libertad y justicia para todos.