Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Mexican Eagle Flies Over A Texas High School

A group of Houston, Texas high school students tried to hoist a Mexican flag over their campus recently, igniting a controversy:
(10/09/06 - KTRK/HOUSTON) - Several Austin High School students were given tickets when they tried to raise a flag up the school's flagpole -- not the American flag, but the Mexican flag.

Who knew the flagpole at Austin High could produce legal questions and cultural concerns all at once? Last month, five students tried to hoist a Mexican flag during school hours on the eve of a Mexican holiday. Campus police promptly ticketed the boys for disrupting an outdoor class, which they say was assembled nearby.

HISD spokesperson Terry Abbott said, "It could have been for any kind of classroom disruption. We issue those types of tickets all the time. They're very common."

The kids say they didn't disrupt anything. They say they are all ROTC members with plans to serve in the military and eventually go on to college. They said they just wanted to show their pride for Mexico.

Student Alonso Uribe said, "Nothing. We didn't do anything wrong."

"We as the students, we decided just to do it," said student Carlos Lopez. "You know, give us credit. Like, remind people what day it is on."

Jason Castenada, the students' attorney, explained, "I think that HISD is coming down a little hard on them, given the fact that we had some protests for the immigration bill."

Castenada says HISD is going overboard. Instead of respecting free speech, using the kids as examples. He said the same type of justice would not have been likely if they had been trying to raise the Canadian flag.

For its part, HISD says the students left their class inside without permission, before disrupting the outside class. The students say they did it between classes.

But for more than 10 years, HISD has issued tickets to students who violate educational codes. The district says these students will be treated no differently.

"Our number one job is to make sure children learn," Abbott stressed. "In order to do that, children have to follow the rules. If they disrupt the classroom activities, they get a citation for it."

The students' attorney says he plans to enter not guilty pleas for the students in municipal court.
We lived in Mexico for seven years, where the WifeWonk taught in Baja California's public schools. Our 14-year-old daughter, the TeenWonk, was born there.

As one who has spent quite a bit of time South of the Border, I can positively assert that any Mexican public school student who even attempted to raise an American flag over his or her campus would soon find his or herself expelled for the remainder of the year and quite possibly probably in need of urgent medical attention.
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