Controversy over songs at kindergarten graduation - New York News

Controversy over songs at kindergarten graduation

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Children at a Brooklyn kindergarten will not be able to sing a patriotic song at their graduation ceremony. 

Kindergartners at P.S. 90 in Coney Island can't sing "God Bless the USA" because the school believes it isn't an appropriate for them to sing. 

When the kindergartners graduate later this month, there will by no performance of "Proud to Be an American" a popular and patriotic Lee Greenwood song as well as "God Bless the USA." 

Luz Lozada said the principal, Greta Hawkins, canceled the song because she didn't quote – "want to offend other cultures." 

"‘I'm Proud to be an American' is a patriotic song that everybody should be happy to sing and a lot of other cultures are here because they want to live freely and that should be no problem," said Lozada. 

The children will sing, though, "Shake Your Sillies Out" by Raffi and "You've Got A Friend In Me" from the movie "Toy Story" and the Justin Bieber song, "Baby." 

"Which is also a grownup song, it's about teenage love, so...," added Lozada. 

The Department of Education spoke on the Hawkins' behalf and said her decision doesn't have to do with patriotism, but rather with being age-appropriate. The song begins with lyrics that talk about what would happen if all things were gone tomorrow. 

The DOE spokeswoman said the principal allowed that same song at a fifth grade ceremony last year. She also said the kids at P.S. 90 recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" and sing "America the Beautiful." 

City officials believe this principal is being targeted by the United Federation of Teachers for being progressive. They say she's gotten racist hate mail - so extreme the NYPD is investigating. The UFT did not return out calls today. 

This is not the first time this song has caused controversy in a school. In April, a Massachusetts elementary school took out "God bless the USA" portion of the lyrics at a fourth grade assembly – and later gave students the choice to say it or not. 

Appellate attorney Lisa Beth Older said call these silly decisions that comes down to censorship.     

"You simply cannot detach the notions of god and spirituality from patriotism, and if we were to do that, we would be stripping out history of references and literary words that children need to learn about, said Older. 

Lozada says she's speaking out because others won't. 

"The school used to be good, now it's horrible."

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