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EDUCATION with Student News

Your Opinion: Flag burning

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(CNN Student News) -- One story we brought you this week concerned a teacher who, as part of a class exercise, burned the American flag in a civics lesson for seventh graders. We asked for your opinion on the story, and here are a few of your responses, some of which have been edited:

Rachel, Crawfordsville: I do not think that teachers should burn the American flag in the classroom. True, it may be a teaching experience, but you never know who the students are and the teacher can easily offend them. For example, some of my former classmates are in the armed forces, and I personally have family members serving over in Iraq. Some students may have even lost someone they knew and loved in the war. What sort of a message is a teacher sending when they set a symbol of our country aflame, what so many men and women, family, have died for? Have they given their lives for nothing? Those men and women deserve our respect. Save the flames for another time and place, not in a school.

Victoria C., Vienna, Austria: I am giving my opinion on the teacher burning flags in school. My opinion is that burning 2 American flags in a school was a bad idea for 2 reasons. The first reason is safety. The students could have been hurt, the students were scared and the building could have caught fire. the second reason is that the teacher was showing disrespect to his country by burning the symbol of America and setting a bad example for the students. There are better ways to explain freedom of speech without showing disrespect to your flag.

Hannah W., Barbe High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana: I believe the teacher had the right by the 8th amendment to burn the flag however, he should not have done it in a school setting because some students might have been offended because it is a patriotic symbol of American freedom.

Alun E., Lakeside Middle in Evans, Georgia: I think that burning two flags isn't very smart. putting things on fire on school property is stupid, it could catch the school on fire and burn many people. But it also educates the kids about fire and how to handle it. The more kids know about fire the less the chances are of them getting burned.

Emanuel V., Bessie Owens Intermediate in Bakersfield, California: I think that the teacher that set on fire two American flags is crazy. That is illegal, that's like if he hated the U.S. If he thought that, that was right to do he is very wrong. He wouldn't like it if he was from another country and we went to that country and burn some of that country's flag. I somehow don't see how what he did didn't match with what he said. Burning a flag has nothing to do with the 1st amendment in the Bill Of Rights. All what he said and did make me think he is a terrorist. Maybe he wanted to burn the whole school. What if he accidentally dropped the flags and the building was on fire. That would have been a big tragedy. That gives a bad example to the kids. If the tragedy were to happen who would pay for the damages he can't pay for all the damages he might of made.

Taylor, South Valley Junior High School in Kansas City, Missouri: I personally think that a teacher that would burn something in class is really cool in fantasy land but in real life that really isn't safe and some kids could take burning the flag the wrong way.

Jason S., South Valley Junior High School in Liberty, Missouri: I think he should have never burned the flag in the school but outside of the school with asking the principal.

Dakota R., South Valley Junior High in Liberty Missouri: I think that burning of the flag for no reason is stupid. I think that you should not be able to do that and if you do then you should get in lots of trouble.

Stephen P., Marathon High School in Marathon, Florida: Burning the American Flag in a classroom is justifiable only if several things take place prior to the burning. The teacher must thoroughly explain the purpose of burning the flag and that it pertains to the right of the first amendment. The teacher should also take the necessary safety precautions and receive permission from the school administration before displaying the flag burning to the class.

Casandra K., Marathon, Florida: I believe that if you have a good reason to burn the American flag that it should be acceptable. Burning the flag is not against the law,you shouldn't get punishment for not breaking the law. Although I also believe that the teacher could have done the burning outside instead of risking the lives of the students inside the class.

Anonymous: I don't believe it is right for a teacher to burn a flag to prove a point. You can talk about it but doing it is a whole different story. I don't think its right for anybody to burn a flag because it represents a country or your country. Burning a flag is going to a bit of an extreme.

Crystal in Marathon, Florida: I think that burning a flag in a classroom is absolutely inappropriate because first off, it's endangering the students, and second off, the students could get the wrong idea from the situation.

Anonymous: The teacher should not have burned the flag in the classroom. Yes, students are hard to get passionate about a paper but he could have thought of another way.

Anonymous: A flag should be burned in class to explain and explore the freedoms our country has given to us.

Anonymous: In my opinion any teacher or educator should be able to use demonstrations such as burning the flag to motivate a class. Although the class was in Middle School and probably too young or immature for the demonstration, if it were a class that I was attending it definitely would have gotten me to think and become motivated about the topic.

Brittany, in Marathon, Florida: I don't think that the flag should be burned in class because then the little seventh graders are going to think that they can go out an burn flags. They might think that it's okay to go out and play with fire just because their teacher does.

Anonymous: No I don't thing that the American flag should be burn in class. 1. for safety reasons and 2. It shows no respect for your country.

Liliana P., Marathon High School in Marathon, Florida: I think if it meant for a good cause it could be done but with the right safety precautions. I also think the teacher should pre-approved the lesson with the principle of the school.

Takeshi H., William S. Hutchings Career Center in Macon, Georgia: Well I believe that the burning of something that we hold so high is not a good way to teach someone a lesson. Burning the flag is something that many will find offensive. For many years we've respected the flag and it just seems as if by him burning the flag he has disrespected his country!!

J.P., in Palmdale, California: I was very concerned when I saw the story on the school teacher, (Mr. Holden) burning an American flag in his class room. Children these days already have a lack of respect for their parents, teachers, law enforcement, etc. To me the American Flag is a sign of respect that SHALL be respected. Now, to have a teacher that tries to prove a point about freedom of speech by burning a flag in a class of seventh graders is down right shocking. This man (Holden)is not only a teacher, but he is a role model to the future generation of America. His personal views of America should never be brought into the class room. Kids are so easily influenced, What is he thinking?Holden needs to be held accountable for his actions. Maybe he can be taken over to Iraq or Afghanistan where our Troops are fighting for this Flag, Country and Freedom that most citizens take for granted. Mr. Holden, here is a little help. President Bush and the Marine Corps have some extra combat boots and cammies to fill. When the school district fires you, take a little trip on down to the local recruiter and prove how American you are.

Mrs Heath, Page High School in Page Arizona: My students had this to report about the teacher burning the flag as a motivational tool for a writing assignment. Student vote: Out of 68 students who voted, 40 said they thought it was okay for the teacher to have burned the flag. Thank you for the chance to respond.

Jessica V.: I think it is great because it would give you ideas for a paper and an experience to tie the writing to.

Michael B.: I agree with the teacher because a good way to get people to get motivated is to show them what you believe in and that all forms of speech should be protected.

Justin A.: It wasn't right because flag symbol of U.S. and why would you burn flag when troops are fighting for U.S.

Anonymous: Starting a fire inside classroom irresponsible, but burning flag says it is okay to speak out against your own country.

Stephanie M.: It was disrespectful. I wouldn't go burn down my house to make a point. The flag means a lot for our country, and was too bold an action to make a point.

Keona S., Richards Middle School in Columbus, Georgia: To me what has the flag done for me. Nothing,in my class a lot people said he was a terrorist do I think so,No. If this country stands for our freedom don't we have the freedom to speak out. Everybody makes choices, in this case his choice was to follow what he thought. IT IS NOT DANGEROUS TO SPEAK YOUR MIND!But if I offend anyone in this comment I'm sorry but I'm speaking from my heart to yours.

John E., Kickapoo Nation School in Powhattan, Kansas: These are the comments my students wrote this morning about the flag burning report from yesterday. These are 5th and 6th graders.

Jess, Kickapoo Nation School: He shouldn't of burned the flags, then he wouldn't of gotten suspended from that school.

Iriss, Kickapoo Nation School: I think it is not safe to burn the flag because if you burn the flag in the classroom the smoke detector might make the fire alarm go off. That's why I don't think it is safe to burn a flag or anything in the classroom.

Sharon, Kickapoo Nation School: I think burning the flag is crazy. He should of had them read a book and ask the teachers if they know any facts about the flags. Or have the kids ask their mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa and then get more answers.

Victoria, Kickapoo Nation School: Yes, because it is not illegal. It was a part of a a social studies lesson. It shows the kids in the social studies class that you could burn the America flag.

Robert, Kickapoo Nation School: I think it was not right to burn two flags just to make a point, because if you burn a flag you will get a lot of people mad at you. I think that he should just be punished. There should be a law about burning a flag. I think it was wrong because he burned the flags in the classroom, because he could have caught his classroom on fire.

Michael, Kickapoo Nation School: I think that he was crazy to burn two of the American flags. He was probably drunk at night then in the morning he tried to make himself not drunk. Now that is what I think.

Jalen, Kickapoo Nation School: No, I don't think a teacher should be able to burn a flag in a classroom. He could have burned the school down or the students. It's good he isn't thee anymore. What was he thinking when he burned the flag?

Ruby, Kickapoo Nation School: No, because he could have hurt himself or one of the students in the classroom. Some people may respect the American flag and burning them may have gotten them confused. Burning the flags got him in some trouble for doing that.

Sareh H., Pekin Community High School in Pekin, Illinois: I saw the showing of the burning of the flag down in Kentucky, during American Government class today and as a class we discussed the issue. In my opinion I am totally appalled by the teacher's actions. Yes, we do have the freedom of speech and I understand his yearning to inspire these kids to write a good paper. Yet freedom of speech can only go so far before it is inappropriate, and should be kept to yourself. Those kids, I am sure, didn't quite understand it, but even if they did it was a horrible example. We are at war right now and the country itself is already in a disarray. People over in other countries are doing this very same action as a sign of disrespect, and then we have one of our countries own burning our flag as well? This, in my opinion, is just unacceptable and ignorant. I know he could have used a better demonstration other than burning the flag which created controversy and endangering the kids. I just wish people would think before they did things.

Alex, Antelope Crossing Middle School in Antelope,California: I'm commenting about today's section on whether teachers should burn flags in order to tug at the kids minds in order for them to write a good paper. I am wishy-washy about this question because if it's to trigger a child's imagination for a school paper then it's a good idea, but then again and open flame in the child's classroom - not very safe. And most people would think of it as very disgraceful to their country. I suggest the teacher gives out permission slips to let the parents know what the teacher would like to do and to see if they have permission. The parents would more likely say yes if they know why and when instead of their child coming home saying there teacher burned the flag. And if they disagree they can say know and the student can go to a different class to continue the paper. So as you can see it's kind of a toss up. There are pros and cons to this theory of teaching.

CaryAnn Liner, Richards Middle School in Columbus, Georgia: My comments are on today's article,"Teacher burns Flag in school." I think that it is respectful to burn a flag to retire it, but I think it was uncalled for for that teacher to burn a flag just to excite students for a paper they are writing. A flag is a symbol of our country. It is not to be burned for no reason. Not only was the teacher disrespectful to the flag, but he endangered the students for conducting an open fire in the classroom. He should of thought about what the parents thoughts were before he did this. The flag is very important to many families especially if a member of that family serves our country, and considering that the teacher did not take the families or students opinion about our flag into mind before conducting this project I don't think he thinks much of our American Flag. Thank you.

Jason L., Pt. Charlotte, Florida: I think it would be okay if he got written permission from the school and parents in order to do this.

Lauren G., Cathey Middle, McAllen, Texas: I think the American Flag should not be burned in the classroom, or anywhere in the country at all. First of all, he is endagering the students by lighting something on fire. And second, he's showing no respect for one of our country's symbols. I don't think any person should have to go to such extremes to make somone enthused about writing an assignment.

Diego G., Cathey Middle, McAllen, Texas: I don't think any teacher should burn an America Flag on fire not only because the safety of the students, but because the American Flag shows patriotism and all rigths and freedom the United States offers to its citizens. And besides if I would be a teacher I would just say examples of what has hapenned in our past, but not actually perform it.


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