A Coney Island principal is refusing to let students sing “God Bless the USA” at their upcoming graduation ceremony, sparking fireworks at a school filled with proud immigrants.
The New York Post reports:
Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, won’t allow kindergartners to belt out the beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,” at their moving-up ceremony.
Five classes spent months learning the patriotic song, which skyrocketed in popularity after the 9/11 attacks and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
It was to be the rousing finale of their musical show at the June 20 commencement. The kids, dressed up for their big day, would wave tiny American flags — which, as the lyrics proclaim, “still stand for freedom.”
But Hawkins marched in on a recent rehearsal and ordered a CD playing the anthem to be shut off, staffers said.
She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.
The first reason given, “We don’t want to offend other cultures,” didn’t wash because the multicultural school is filled with immigrants from Pakistan, Mexico and Ecuador, and they “love it,” according to one of the disappointed moms, Luz Lozada.
A teacher agreed: “It makes them a little goosebumpy and teary-eyed. I’ve never come across anyone who felt it insulted their culture.”
So a second excuse was given:
Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti gave The Post an explanation staffers said they never heard — that Hawkins found the lyrics “too grown up” for 5-year-olds.
Hawkins had no problem with 5-year-olds singing lines such as, “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.”
A couple more things about the principal, mentioned at the very end of the article:
School insiders say Hawkins tried to end the school’s tradition of reciting the pledge each morning, a couple years ago but staff objected.
The song uproar comes amid tensions. Hawkins has been called a tyrant and bully by some staffers.
The DOE reprimanded her in 2010 after teachers complained she called the school “racist” and declared: “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming.”