Students studying Spanish in a Texas public high school were asked to recite the Mexican national anthem and Mexican pledge of allegiance as part of an assignment, and when one student refused, stating that it upset her, the school district maintains there was nothing wrong with the lesson, writes Madeleine Morgenstern at the Blaze.
The incident happened last month at Achieve Early College High School in McAllen, Texas — a city located about 10 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
15-year-old sophomore Brenda Brinsdon refused to participate, stating that she was particularly offended because the presentations in teacher Reyna Santos's class took place during "Freedom Week," the week after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and on U.S. Constitution Day — the same day as Mexico's Independence Day, writes Morgenstern.
"I just thought it was out of hand, I didn't think it was right," she told The Blaze. "Reciting pledges to Mexico and being loyal to it has nothing to do with learning Spanish."
"Why are we doing their independence when itâs Freedom Week and it's also Constitution Day?"
School principal Yvette Cavazo told Brinsdon that it was part of the curriculum and that she should participate. Her father William called the school district superintendent to complain.
William was surprised when Brenda told him about the assignment, and he contacted several school officials — though, he says, they never called him back, writes Jonathon M. Seidl at the Blaze.
"The indoctrination of this stuff is going on all the time down here," he said. "And also last year she was told in her Spanish class that this land was stolen from Mexico, yada, yada, was told to be quiet through the class."
Referring to the rich history of Texas, in the period from the early 1500s to the mid 1800s, it was claimed by many countries including France, Spain and Mexico before gaining independence from Mexico and becoming a country of its own right – The Republic of Texas – in 1836 and finally part of the United States in 1845.
When Brenda made clear she would not stand up and recite the pledge, she was given an alternative assignment: an essay on the history of the Mexican revolution, writes Morgenstern.
According to the state's Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards, students are expected to gain "knowledge and understanding" of other cultures and use the language to demonstrate understanding of different practices and perspectives.
A spokesperson for the McAllen Independent School District has said that the incident involved one lesson on Hispanic culture in America, reports KRGV.com.
While all students in the district recite the American pledge of allegiance every day, the reciting of the Mexican pledge was only part of a temporary lesson leading up to the Mexican Independence day on September 16.
"The students came away with a better understanding of the culture, heritage and customs of a neighboring country where Spanish is the primary language," a spokesman said.
"There's always going to be people that always feel a little bit differently."
William Brinsdon is still having a hard time fathoming the idea of reciting foreign pledges and anthems in a U.S. public school, writes Morgenstern.
"Our kids don't even know the [American] national anthem and here we areâ¦teaching them to memorize and perform the national anthem for Mexico," he said. "I just think it's so backwards."