School Principal Pulls 'God Bless the USA' From Program to Avoid Offending 'Other Cultures'

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School Principal Pulls 'God Bless the USA' From Program to Avoid Offending 'Other Cultures'

A Coney Island principal's refusal to let students sing "God Bless the USA" at their graduation has sparked controversy at a school filled with proud immigrants, the New York Post reports. After kindergarteners at PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, spent months learning the patriotic Lee Greenwood ballad and practicing waving tiny American flags, principal Greta Hawkins walked in to a recent rehearsal, ordered a CD playing the song to be shut off, and told teachers to drop the song from the June 20 commencement program. "We don't want to offend other cultures," they quoted her as saying. Hawkins' edict stunned both staff and parents. "A lot of people fought to move to America to live freely, so that song should be sung with a whole lot of pride," said Luz Lozada, whose son is in kindergarten. The song has been sung at previous school events, and parents -- many of them immigrants from Pakistan, Mexico and Ecuador -- "love it," Lozada said. A teacher agreed: "It makes them a little goosebumpy and teary-eyed. I've never come across anyone who felt it insulted their culture." The Department of Education backed the principal's decision, saying Hawkins found the lyrics "too grown-up" for 5-year-olds and concurring that the lyrics were "not age-appropriate."

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