How’s this for irony:
The Vanguard School Board of Directors has overruled its own institution’s decision to tread on one of its student’s first amendment rights.
Jaiden Rodriguez, 12, was told last week he wouldn’t be allowed back inside his Colorado Springs classroom until he removed a Gadsden flag patch from his backpack.
Named after South Carolina’s Christopher Gadsden, a brigadier general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, the image of a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase, “Don’t Tread on Me,” is synonymous with the colonist’s unity and devotion to pursuing their independence from Great Britain.
But according to a Vanguard School teacher and administrator, the flag was an offensive symbol somehow connected to slavery and the slave movement. The standoff cost Jaiden three days of instruction time – and tossed a lot of egg onto the faces of the K-12 institution.
On Wednesday, the school district released a statement confirming the error and reaffirming the student’s right to have the patch on his backpack.
“The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history,” the district acknowledged. “This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles.”
It was the 19th century French novelist Gustave Flaubert who once observed, “Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who knew more about cultural blindness than most, once said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance conscientious stupidity.”
Eden Rodriguez, Jaiden’s mother, told a local NBC affiliate, “I do want him to stand up for his rights, too, and I don’t want to say, ‘No, you bow down to the government.’”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis weighed-in, offering his strong support for Jaiden’s right to wear and display the patch.
“The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American Revolution and an iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans,” Polis tweeted. “It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies. It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!”
School district officials noted that the student was also displaying patches featuring semi-automatic weapons. Jaiden has since agreed to remove them.
Yet, it’s inevitable that with growing ignorance, apathy, and especially antagonism towards American history and our nation’s founding ideals, both students and parents will be faced the task of checking and double-checking the veracity of what’s being taught in the classroom. We cannot always assume history will be taught accurately, let alone fairly.
Photo from Shutterstock.