VETERANS TURN OUT TO SUPPORT MEASURE, BUT IT FAILS TO PASS
For now, the Star Spangled Banner and the Alaska Flag Song won’t be incorporated into the school week in Anchorage public schools. School Board member Dave Donley has been attempting to incorporate it into the curriculum for several months.
Instead, the proposed amendment was sent back to committee for further discussion. It’s spent the last eight months in committee without any sign that the board supports it.
The board, with Donley as the only supporter of his amendment, clearly didn’t want to be on the record against patriotism, and so avoided a simple up or down vote. The death-by-committee was just easier.
A dozen military veterans testified in favor of the Anthem at the Anchorage School Board meeting on Tuesday night, which ran well over the 11 pm hour. Also testifying in favor were school board candidate David Nees, Assembly candidate and former board member Crystal Kennedy, and Alaska Board of Education member Bob Griffin, who is also an Air Force veteran.
Other veterans who spoke included Peter Goldberg, home school parent Thomas Williams, grandfather and martial arts instructor Mike Tavoliero, National Guard Reservist Bethany Marcum, Alaska Veterans Foundation Chairman Ric Davidge, Randy Eledge, Don Jones, Michael Chambers, and Lena Lafferty.
Many of the veterans expressed strong emotion, and said the playing of the National Anthem once a week would help forge a bond, and lead to a sense of unity in Anchorage’s exceedingly diverse school community. Portia Noble, pictured above, spoke about the importance of instilling patriotism and said it was a leading factor when she was searching for a preschool for her daughter.
A couple of teachers disagreed with the importance of the National Anthem as a routine.
The head of the Anchorage teacher’s union, Tom Klaameyer, is a veteran himself, but said he opposed the measure and challenged Board member Donley to recite the third verse of the national anthem. About then, School Board President Starr Marsett interrupted and called him out of order.
Klaamayer apologized but explained he was addressing the maker of the amendment. He then said that playing the anthem was similar to a “forced apology that doesn’t mean anything,” and it was “going down a slippery slope to forced marching. As a veteran and teacher, we get much more in developing our students, and protecting their freedom,” he said.
Donley attempted to recite the third verse but was shushed by fellow board member Alisha Hilde, who sits next to him on the school board and was trying to move the proposal back to the Governance Committee.
A teacher, who identified herself as active in the teacher’s union, also opposed the measure because “to mandate it is nationalistic.”
But the vast majority of those testifying were passionate in their support for playing the Star Spangled Banner regularly in schools. Many expressed dismay that some schools did not even have students recite the Pledge of Allegiance, until the superintendent sent out a recent survey that pointed out that it’s district policy to recite the Pledge.
Donley explained that, after eight months of his proposal languishing in committee, the board could have amended it last night, such as making the musical addition to the curriculum occur once a month or daily, but none was in the mood.
The measure went back to the Governance Committee, where it appears likely to languish until Donley cycles off the school board.