The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
Photo: WFLA screenshot Photo: WFLA screenshot  

Fifth grader’s blue-ribbon speech on how religions should coexist deemed too religious

A public charter school student in Tampa, Fla. gave a blue-ribbon, first-prize-winning speech last week about how great it would be if adherents of all religions could coexist peacefully.

Then, a few hours later, the school’s assistant principal pulled the kid aside and revoked his prize because he mentioned religion in his speech.

The Daily Caller is not making this up.

The student, Zachary Golob-Drake, is fifth grader at the Patel Partnership School, reports local NBC affiliate WFLA.

Golob-Drake got the news from the assistant principal on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, he was going to deliver his award-winning speech to the entire fourth and fifth grades.

He was also set to represent his school proudly at the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech contest.

The assistant principal told they boy that the content of his speech was unacceptable.

“She started talking to me about how she thought my speech wasn’t appropriate for fourth and fifth graders and she thought that probably I would have to rewrite my speech, take the religion out or not compete,” Golob-Drake told a WFLA reporter.

“She said to me probably the fairest thing to do is to take your ribbon,” he added, admitting that that this suggestion made him pretty sad.

The poor kid gave up his blue ribbon, and then started to cry. Golob-Drake’s older brother decided to talk to the assistant principal once he saw his little brother in such a state.

According to the website of the Patel Partnership School, the assistant principal is named Tamethea Simmons.

The boy’s mother, Rhonda Golob-Drake, then worked the phone for hours to convince the assistant principal and representatives from the Tropicana contest to allow the speech after all.

Eventually, the various parties reached a compromise. The speech contest was postponed until Monday. The parents of participants would be able to see all the speech titles and would have to sign permission slips.

You can read the entire text of Golob-Drake’s speech here. He mentions the Crusades, Genghis Khan, September 11 and the Golden Rule.

“Religious differences have always sparked conflict, even leading to warfare and mass murder,” the speech notes. Golob-Drake also explains matter-of-factly that “hijackers commandeered two jets and intentionally crashed them into the Twin Towers” on Sept. 11, 2001. “The hijackers were Islamic extremists who wanted to punish the United States for its immoral behavior.”

A school district spokeswoman, Tanja Arja, insisted that religion wasn’t the main issue. Instead, she explained, the tender ears of the students were not ready to learn about history.

“The concern was over the topic of mass murders,” Arja told WFLA. “Because these are fourth and fifth graders.”

Follow Eric on Twitter and on Facebook, and send education-related story tips to erico@dailycaller.com.