A Coney Island principal has pulled Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” from a kindergarten “moving up” ceremony, out of concern that Greenwood’s patriotic song was age-inappropriate and potentially offensive.
“We don’t want to offend other cultures,” teachers quoted Greta Hawkins, the principal of the Edna Cohen School, as saying to defend her decision to nix “God Bless the USA” from the ceremony, the New York Post reports.
Greenwood’s song had been sung at previous school functions, and students in five classes reportedly spent months rehearsing for the moving up ceremony.
Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti told the Post that the song was indeed “too grown up” for the young students slated to be singing.
“The lyrics are not age-appropriate,” Scaperotti told the Post.
What is age appropriate, according to school officials? Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” which students will be expected at the ceremony.
“Are we an item? Girl, quit playing/ We’re just friends, what are you saying?/ Say there’s another and look right in my eyes/ My first love broke my heart for the first time/ And I was like… Baby, baby, baby oooh/ Like baby, baby, baby nooo/ Like baby, baby, baby oooh/ I thought you’d always be mine”
Compared to Greenwood’s lyrics:
“I’m proud to be an American./ where at least I know I’m free./ And I wont forget the men who died,/ who gave that right to me./ And I gladly stand up,/ next to you and defend her still today./ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,/ God bless the USA.”
The Post reports that parents, including many immigrants, are frustrated by the decision.
Hawkins, a Jehovah’s Witness, does not participate in the Pledge of Allegiance for religious reasons. According to insiders she has attempted to get that ritual scrapped as well.
Hawkins has received highly mixed reviews from teachers on the anonymous review site, Teacher’s Voice, with some describing her as an anti-white racist. Others praised her focus on the children. The United Federation of Teachers, meanwhile, has labeled her a “bully.”
Scaperotti noted that Hawkins is a target of the teacher’s union, and the NYPD is currently investigating some of her hate mail.
The Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity reprimanded Hawkins after they found she made offensive racial comments during a 2010 faculty meeting.