Editor’s note: The school district has completed its investigation into the lesson and said no “indoctrination” occurred. Read more here.
The words are written in crayon, in the haphazard bumpiness of a child’s scrawl.
“I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure.”
They’re the words that Florida father Aaron Harvey was stunned to find his fourth-grade son had written, after a lesson in school about the Constitution.
Harvey’s son attends Cedar Hills Elementary in Jacksonville, Fla. Back in January, a local attorney came in to teach the students about the Bill of Rights. But after the attorney left, fourth-grade teacher Cheryl Sabb dictated the sentence to part of the class and had them copy it down, he said.
The paper sat unnoticed in Harvey’s son’s backpack for several months until last week, when his son’s mother almost threw it away. The words caught her eye in the trash, and she showed it to Harvey, who said he was at a loss for words. He asked his son, who said Sabb had spoken the sentence out loud and told them to write it down. Harvey said he asked some of his son’s classmates and got a similar answer.
“Everybody has their opinions,” Harvey told TheBlaze. “I am strongly for proper education, for the freedom of thought so you can form your own opinion and have your own free speech in the future… [but] the education is, ‘when was the Constitution drafted, when was it ratified, why did this happen, why did we choose to do this…all these things, why did they particularly choose those specific rights to be in our Bill of Rights.’”
Kandra Albury, a spokeswoman for Duvall County Public Schools, which includes Cedar Hills, told TheBlaze she didn’t know what prompted Sabb to have students write the sentence.
She said the principal had fielded one parent’s concern about the lesson in January, but it wasn’t Harvey. She said Thursday the district and principal were “checking into” what had happened.
Harvey, rather than asking the school for answers when he found the paper, wrote his concerns in an email, which was then forwarded to TheBlaze. He said he did it that way because he wasn’t sure he would have gotten a straightforward answer if he asked the school directly.
He said he just wants to see a “proper, unbiased education” system and doesn’t want any kind of religion or politics brought into the classroom.
“I believe in our Constitution. I am a veteran, I served for six-and-a-half years proudly and I served to protect our rights,” he said. “Now whenever I have someone coming in and trying to pollute my child’s mind with biased opinions…there’s no education in that.”
Update, 11:36 a.m.: Harvey told TheBlaze he received a call from the school Friday morning that featured the principal, guidance counselor and Sabb. He was told the sentence came during the lesson with the lawyer, that Sabb had nothing to do with it, and that Harvey’s son “wrote it on his own free will.”
Harvey said he had spoken to a girl in the class who specifically said Sabb handpicked students to write the sentence.
“All the children are pointing at the teacher,” Harvey said Friday. “They [the school] told me that my son wrote that on his own free will — there’s no way he knew how to write that on his own free will. He likes to use some big words to flourish — [but] if he was going to put together a sentence that political I’m sure it would be more jumbled than a nice sentence like that.”
Update, 4:20 p.m.: Read the school district’s response here.
Update, April 17: The school district has concluded no “indoctrination” took place.
Editor’s note: TheBlaze has withheld the name of the child at the father’s request.
This story was discussed on Friday’s BlazeCast: