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Learning at its Best, School Stories, Student Voices

“Liberty and Justice for Some?” she asked.

Originally posted at

A 7th grader asked me: “Why do we have to say the Pledge of Allegiance everyday?”

“Why do you ask?” I said.

“I don’t know what it means really. I don’t think anybody does. And, the part I kind of understand doesn’t really seem true for everyone.”

“Which part is that?”

“You know ‘Liberty and Justice for all’, it should be ‘Liberty and Justice for most’, or even ‘Liberty and Justice for some’. Trayvon Martin doesn’t have justice. And he doesn’t have any liberty anymore.”

“My friend got shot by a cop in front of my house a few years ago. He just had a bag of chips and it was dark. He didn’t have justice either.” another student added.

“So what should we do about it?” I said.

“We should protest or do something. Show solidarity. Or I could write a book. Or we could call Congress again like we did for SOPA. We should make people think.”

The discussion went on for a while longer. Then we had to discuss prefixes for the fast approaching test.

A student remarked, “It seems kind of dumb talking about prefixes after talking about liberty and justice and people’s lives and rights.”

“I agree,” I said, “We’ll get through the grammar quickly.” We did, and we returned to our conversation. Myles wanted to sing a protest song and wear his hoodie. We sang. I wish this was the focus of our schools. Grammar matters, but only if it helps communicate big ideas, or small ones. We had an important class session. Humanity took the cake today, not the test.



5 thoughts on ““Liberty and Justice for Some?” she asked.

  1. Well done you for allowing this very, very important conversation.

    Posted by homeschoolingpenny | March 31, 2012, 6:12 am
  2. Your student asked an excellent question and you are to be commended for allowing your class to discuss the matter. I am curious, did your students ever arrive at an acceptable answer to the original question?


    Posted by Brent Snavely | March 31, 2012, 6:41 am
  3. Totally agree. I get the importance of Word Study – but teaching it is (to use one of my hubby’s great Aussie phrases), “boring as bat sh–“.

    In-divisible has a prefix :).
    Janet |

    Posted by Janet Abercrombie | March 31, 2012, 8:55 am
  4. Great post! This is why emergent curriculum is so important, but alas, very hard to standardize.

    Posted by kaseyerrico | March 31, 2012, 1:06 pm
  5. Two student questions that have stuck with me from this past week regarding Trayvon Martin’s murder:

    “If I wear my hoodie, are you going to shoot me?”, and, “How can this be?” has a featured conversation about Trayvon Martin this week.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | April 3, 2012, 9:54 am

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