Parents expect their children will learn valuable lessons in high school social studies classes that will help them understand their rights as American citizens and trust teachers to use methods that bring the words of the our founding documents, like the Constitution, to life for young Americans.

Sometimes, however, a teacher’s judgment becomes clouded and compromised by his own belief systems or political viewpoint, and the teacher becomes the student.

This week in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a high school history teacher is learning his own valuable lesson about respect and tradition as he sits out a suspension for defiling an American flag to demonstrate the scope of the First Amendment.

Lee Francis got carried away with a history lesson at Massey Hill Classical High School in Cumberland County and was photographed by a student as he stood on an American flag he had placed on the floor of his classroom.

The photograph was posted on Facebook, quickly racking up more than 10,000 views as parents reacted with demands that the school district take action.

Cumberland County is home to Ft. Bragg with more than 50,000 active duty military personnel and a large presence of military families, many of whom have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Students said Mr. Francis first tried to burn and cut up the flag before putting it on the floor.

Two students left the room; a third removed the flag from the floor.

Francis argues that he was merely showing “an example of free speech.”

One parent, Melissa Ramos, who also has a son stationed at Ft. Bragg, reacted with anger.

“There are so many other ways that he could have taught that instead of trying to desecrate the flag that so many people in this country have fought so hard for.”

Superintendent Dr. Frank Till Jr. agreed. “Clearly there are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating a flag. The situation is currently under investigation.”

The teacher, however, maintains, “the way that I taught it can’t necessarily be wrong.”


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