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Teacher displays Confederate flag during Civil War lesson, is then forced to retire

Sutter Middle School (Folsom, California) teacher Woody Hart ended up “retiring” last Thursday evening due to controversy generated by his hanging a Confederate flag in his classroom during a lesson … on the Civil War.

A Union flag was also displayed in the class.

Hart had been on paid leave since the “incident.”

According to KCRA-3, the Folsom Cordova Unified School District had issued a statement saying “We recognize that regardless of context, to many of our students, families, and staff, the Confederate flag is a racist symbol of hate.”

“The flag was hanging in a classroom across from a Civil War Union flag, ‘potentially in preparation of a history activity,’ the district said. It was taken down before class began Wednesday.”


Possibly complicating matters for Hart is the fact that he was accused of racial insensitivity late last year:

In November, a family filed a complaint against the same teacher for “making an inappropriate lynching analogy” during a lesson, the school district said.

According to the family, when the teacher was asked to give an example of equality, he said, “When you hang one black person, you’d have to hang them all. That is equality.”

During the investigation, the teacher told administrators that statement was made in the context of how Southerners would respond to people who went to the South to promote equal rights for African-Americans. He said the Southerners would respond, “We treat them all equally. We hang them.”

In the family’s complaint letter, the mother had said the school’s assistant principal told her that Hart’s remarks “came as no surprise.”

The district investigated the complaint and told Hart “to use more appropriate examples and strategies during classroom discussions.”

Regarding the recent flag imbroglio, student Ana Kneisley said she “actually very much appreciated the way [Hart] taught history.”

“I felt that we were getting more involved than what our other classes did,” she added.

Most of the reactions on the district’s Facebook page echoed Kneisley’s:

–“Two of my children have had this teacher for history. He hung a Confederate flag and Union flag each year when they studied this unit. Another son had a different history teacher at Sutter who had his class draw a picture of a Confederate flag. It is a part of teaching the Civil War.”

–“I had Mr. Hart a few years ago for 8th grade history. He was hands down the best history teacher I’ve had and one of my all-time favorite teachers. He taught me so much about history, and I still remember a lot of the things I learned. My brother is now in his class and also loves having him as a teacher.”

–“My son just pointed out that the eighth grade history books being used in our district have pictures of both confederate and union flags. If the district is going to punish a teacher for using two flags as a visual aid, then shouldn’t they also suspend use of the current textbooks and quickly replace them with textbooks that do not contain what our district has now officially defined as inflammatory illustrations?”

Read the full KCRA story.

h/t to EAGNews.org

MORE: Confederate flag attire banned at Pennsylvania HS for causing ‘disruption’

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MORE: Gettysburg prof leads protest against Confederate Flag rally at historic battlefield

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.