It’s OK to take a knee for the Constitution

If nothing else comes from the growing protests by professional and high school football players during the National Anthem, at least some coaches/educators are getting schooled in the Constitution.

Worcester, Ma., high school football player Michael Oppong took a knee during his team’s game over the weekend, prompting his coach to tell him he would meet with school officials today to discuss whether and for how long Oppong would be suspended.

School superintendent Maureen Binienda said in a statement today that there’s a problem with that. For one thing, there’s no school rule against kneeling during the National Anthem. For another thing: There can’t be a rule against kneeling for the National Anthem.

Recently, athletes have displayed silent protest in support of the dialogue on race and equality that continues to evolve in every community across the nation. This weekend, a football player from Doherty Memorial High School knelt down during the National Anthem, joining the many athletes who have silently displayed their opinion.

The Doherty student did not violate any school rule when he peacefully and silently protested during the National Anthem. He exercised his Constitutional Rights without disturbing the school assembly and he is not being disciplined in any way by his actions. Worcester Public Schools is a rich, diverse community that thrives to maintain open dialogue about the challenges that our community and our country face.

The superintendent tells the Worcester Telegram, however, that the school has had to implement a “safety plan” for young Michael because of the threats he’s received.

In a survey released last year, by the way, 33 percent of those surveyed could not name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment. The number of those who cited freedom of speech dropped from 68 to 57 percent from the previous year.