School pulls patriotic song at graduation, but Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ is OK

From The New York Times:

A controversial Coney Island principal has pulled the plug on patriotism.

Her refusal to let students sing “God Bless the USA” at their graduation has sparked fireworks at a school filled with proud immigrants.

Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, won’t allow kindergartners to belt out the beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,” at their moving-up ceremony.

Five classes spent months learning the patriotic song, which skyrocketed in popularity after the 9/11 attacks and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It was to be the rousing finale of their musical show at the June 20 commencement. The kids, dressed up for their big day, would wave tiny American flags — which, as the lyrics proclaim, “still stand for freedom.”

But Hawkins marched in on a recent rehearsal and ordered a CD playing the anthem to be shut off, staffers said.

She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.

“We don’t want to offend other cultures,” they quoted her as explaining.

The curt edict stunned both staff and parents.

“A lot of people fought to move to America to live freely, so that song should be sung with a whole lot of pride,” said mom Luz Lozada, whose son, Daniel, is in kindergarten.

But Justin Bieber’s flirty song about teen romance, “Baby,” was deemed a fine selection for the show. Hawkins had no problem with 5-year-olds singing lines such as, “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.”

The other songs: “We’re All Together Again,” popular at Scout campfires; “The World is a Rainbow,” which celebrates diversity; “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi; and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story.”

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