Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Greta Hawkins, Public Schools and Banning Patriotism

by guest blogger Andrew Roman


Greta Hawkins, Principal, P.S. 90, Brooklyn NY
This is one of those "Proud-To-Be-A-New-Yorker" moments we sing about around the camp fire.

Approximately ten miles from where I live is P.S. 90, the Coney Island elementary school that has been thrust into the national spotlight thanks to Greta Hawkins, the school’s principal. She’s the educator who, just in the nick of time, walked in on a kindergarten class rehearsal of the Lee Greenwood song “God Bless The USA” (also known as “Proud To Be An American”) slated to be performed during the school’s commencement ceremony on June 20th. Instinctively recognizing the imminent danger to the children, Hawkins heroically extinguished the looming threat by putting a halt to the proceedings, ordering the song be removed from the program, thus sparing the group of unknowing five-year olds any further exposure to pride and patriotism.

Initially, the cultural heroine of South Brooklyn nixed the song for fear of triggering a wave of inferiority complexes - not to mention wounded self-esteem and offended sensibilities - among those people of “other cultures” attending this particular American public school located, peculiarly enough, in America. Indeed, Hawkins’ keen awareness, razor-sharp instincts and unbridled compassion quite literally saved the offspring of immigrants from having to withstand pro-American sentiment on American soil.  

As expected, Hawkins has been soundly lambasted for the move which, as of today (by conservative estimates), has spared countless developing school age kids any positive impressions of the nation that has welcomed their families with open arms … and that number continues to grow.

Defending Hawkins is Jessica Scaperotti, a spokeswoman for New York’s Department of Education, who offered yet another explanation for the Greenwood song’s banishment. She said that Hawkins found the song’s lyrics a little too “grown up” for five-year olds. Thus, some of the more difficult age-inappropriate imagery, conjured up by such tortuous phrases as: “I’d thank my lucky stars to be livin’ here today” and “From Detroit down to Houston, and New York to L.A. Well there’s pride in every American heart,” will not be given an opportunity to confuse and frighten the children.

At first, as an alternative, the certain-to-be-a-kindergarten-sing-a-long-classic by pop phenom Justin Beiber called “Baby” was to fill the Brooklyn auditorium with its more embracing, family-friendly, unambiguous age-appropriate lyrics: “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing. We’re just friends. What are you saying?” and “Baby, baby, baby oooh. Like baby, baby, baby nooo. Like baby, baby, baby oooh. I thought you’d always be mine.”

But alas, that plan, too, has been scrapped, according to His Most Exalted Highness, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott . Said Walcott: Now as far as Justin Bieber, I understand some of the issues people raised. It’s my understanding that song will not be part of the ‘moving up’ ceremony as well . . . I support our principals along that line."

Still, it remains unclear why the Beiber song was scrapped at all since the song makes no reference to the country, God or patriotism.


It is also unclear why so many people, including members of those "other culture" families who are obviously unaware that they are being affronted by the controversial pro-USA composition, are insisting that the song be reinserted back into the program.

The fact is, Principal Hawkins has clearly made it her life’s goal to protect the fragile self-images of the children placed in her charge; and although her courageous attempts to end the daily reciting of the Pledge Of Allegiance and the singing of “America The Beautiful” a couple of years ago proved unsuccessful, her continued refusal to simply stand up as a sign of respect during these daily rituals (she is a Jehovah’s Witness) continues to be not only a reaffirmation of unflappable integrity, but a true inspiration to five-year olds long disgusted with these oppressive and insulting practices. After all, if she doesn’t participate, why should anyone else have to?

This, indeed, is the embodiment of leadership.

However, despite Hawkins' attempts at instilling a little dose of enlightenment on the future leaders of tomorrow, we can surely expect the feeble-minded among us today to unleash their poison arrows on her ... and, indeed, they have.

Her 2010 reprimand from the New York Department of Education for calling the school “racist” should not be taken out of context by ill-informed detractors, basement-swelling blog-jockies and hate-mongers. And although she did say, “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming,” expect flag-waving smear-merchants to twist those words entirely out of context for their own benefit.

Other complaints about Hawkins – including her threatening to report parents of misbehaving students to the Administration for Children’s Services, her under-reporting of safety incidents, and her refusal to account for nearly four thousand dollars of Title I parent involvement funds from the previous school year – should not, and do not, reflect on her excellence as an educator and protector of the innocent.

As a side note, John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” to the surprise of many, is among those songs not scheduled to be performed at the ceremony.



  1. First they came for the Christmas carols, but I didn't speak out. Next they came for the patriotic songs...

  2. She is a Monster.....friendly PS 90 is gone

  3. I'd been wondering what ever happened to Jar Jar Binks. Mystery solved.

  4. Im an American, proud of my country. You and yours are deluded idiots. More of us are coming...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.