MARS, Pa. (KDKA) -- A local school board is proposing to make the promotion of patriotism part of its mission statement.
At the same time, the board will make clear that controversial social theories like critical race theory are not to be taught without board approval.
The president of the Mars Area School Board would not go on camera to discuss this, but the board has posted a proposed policy change on its website that adds these words to its mission statement: "Quality education should promote students to be informed, engaged, and patriotic citizens."
"The idea of patriotism goes back to the beginning of our country, and certainly the love of our country and what we promote within our public school systems relative to that is very appropriate, meaningful," said Dr. Linda Hippert with Point Park University and a former superintendent at South Fayette and Fox Chapel Area school districts.
Hippert said there's nothing surprising about the board's ways of promoting patriotism, including the following: display the American flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, play the National Anthem, promote civility & decency, and respect free speech, conscience & religious liberties.
"Most schools, if not all, do display the flag, do the Pledge of Allegiance, play the National Anthem. And that has been going on for many, many years and continues to this day," Hippert told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
It's the next part of the policy that may be problematic for some.
Besides encouraging students to register and vote, the board explicitly prohibits teaching concepts the impute guilt or blame based on race, sex, or religion, prohibits curriculum which indoctrinates students in a single ideology or promotes one race, sex, or religion above another. The board also prohibits teaching social theories without board approval, including Holocaust denial, 9/11 theory, the New York Times' 1619 project and critical race theory.
Hippert said local school boards do have the final say about the curriculum. But as to the classroom, she notes, "As you can imagine, it's impossible to monitor every finite detail of what occurs."
The proposed policy does affirm the impartial study of controversial issues and presentation of all sides of an issue.
The Mars School Board was unanimous in its initial vote. A final vote is expected in mid-August.
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