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Jacksonville parents concerned about son's First Amendment lesson

4:10 PM, Apr 13, 2013   |    comments
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 PDF Document: Justice Teaching Assignment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local 10-year-old has decided to give up some of his constitutional rights, if what he wrote in crayon is to be believed.

"According to the children, [the teacher] spoke the sentence and they had to write down what she said," said Aaron Harvey, the fourth grader's concerned father.

Harvey said his son did what he was told during a civics lesson at Cedar Hills Elementary School and wrote, "I am willing to give up some of my constitution rights in order to be safer or more secure."

Aaron Harvey believes this statement reflects the teacher's personal opinion and has no place in his impressionable son's classroom.

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"I don't believe that any American or American child should be asked to write this," he said.

Aaron Harvey believes his fourth grade son should be taught the history and importance of First Amendment rights. Amy Harvey, the boy's mother, who was shocked to find the note, agrees.

"If I don't check his backpack I won't find things like this," she said.

The Harveys said they are not sure if the lawyer participating in the lesson assigned the work or the teacher a few days later.

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti in a written statement said, "The Justice Teaching activity on constitutional rights that was conducted at Cedar Hills Elementary School is consistent with our efforts to broaden civics-based education and develop critical thinking skills among our students. The lesson builds awareness of First Amendment rights through a partnership with an association of local attorneys. Our possible concern rests with a follow-up activity that may have been conducted after the lesson."

Aaron Harvey said he had a conference call Friday with the principal of Cedar Hills Elementary, his son's teacher and a counselor. An in-person meeting has been scheduled for Friday, April 19th. Harvey has invited a number of the parents in his son's class to attend.

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