Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, in Coney Island, Brooklyn has banned kindergartners from singing “God Bless the USA” at graduation. Hawkins believes the song to be offensive to other cultures. It is true that the song has gotten flack for being “a red neck anthem” after the 9/11 attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, but parents and teachers are still somewhat dismayed by the ban, where the students get to hold up small American flags as a finale for their moving up ceremony.
The school is known for being ethnically diverse, with a lot of the parents of these students being proud American immigrants. Hawkins’ decision has sparked controversy and with all the backlash she had told the Department of Education that she also felt the lyrics were “too grown up.” Which is legitimate. But what makes heads turn is that the replacement song was none other than Justin Bieber‘s “Baby,” which some deem to be equally if not more so age-inappropriate being about teenage romance and flirting.
And staff at PS 90 claim that Hawkins also tried to stop the morning sing-along to “America the Beautiful” a few years ago but the order had been overturned. Hawkin’s record for controversial comments and educational decisions goes back to 2010 where the DOE had to reprimand her for inappropriate behavior calling the school “racist” and verbally attacking staff about the previous principal.