The Florida Legislature passed the Freedom Flag Act four years ago. Despite the connotation of the law’s name, it limits freedom and forces all public schools, ranging from elementary to the post-secondary level, to display an American-made 2 foot by 3 foot U.S. flag in every classroom on campus.
The reality of these laws was highlighted recently when USF College of Business professors Marvin Karlins and Robert Welker reported the absence of flags in some College of Education classrooms last month to the school’s Office of University Audit and Compliance.
Since then, USF has scrambled to come up with the necessary flags.
While the professors acted correctly by reporting the school’s failure to comply with state law, the law is wrong to require post-secondary schools to display an American flag in every classroom.
Many contemporaries throughout the world cherish nationalism and patriotism and, like other ideologies, they’re indoctrinated in children at a very young age.
Parents and governments should have the right to indoctrinate children and teach them how to think by forcing them to view their nation’s flag all day. This is every society’s freedom. That’s why it’s not unreasonable that American flags promoting nationalism are required in gradeschool classrooms.
However, universities and colleges are a different story.
These institutions are centers of academic and intellectual freedom, where one learns the facts of life in order to arrive at their own conclusions, which may run counter to the nationalistic message that’s currently forced upon students with the flag requirement.
Some frown upon nationalism and the international competitiveness that results, seeing themselves as citizens of the world.
The U.S. isn’t the country of birth for many college students, so the presence of a U.S. flag may make international students feel unwelcome.
The flags also come with logistical and financial obstacles, as there is a multitude of classrooms on college campuses like USF’s and the flags have to be of a specific make and size, according to law.
The extra costs are burdensome for underfunded institutions that are struggling financially in the recession.
While many in the U.S. feel their fellow residents should love the nation in which they reside, attempts shouldn’t be made to force adults to feel the same.
America’s post-secondary institutions must remain neutral bodies in the cosmopolitan environment that defines contemporary scholarship and intellectualism.
This requires schools to remain free from all bias in their pursuit of a well-balanced education that transcends man-made and national boundaries, even if that bias is a seemingly popular one.