Breaking News: Kneeling is not required in United States schools


School Principal Dana Carter

There are some things that we, as a people in these United States, just plain can’t let slide. For instance, we all know that we do not kneel in the presence of government officials and all that. Most of us know that. It goes so deep into the core of what we believe as Americans that in going abroad to deal with foreign monarchs, more than one of our citizens has done some very serious thinking on the matter of kneeling. Those feelings are at the base of some of the core principles on which this country was founded. Something about Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. (Article 1, Section 9, US Constitution)

But yes it appears to be an issue, even in 2013, and even in the United States of America — in California of all places, which the rest of us frequently regard as somehow more progressive than the rest of us hicks. Could be, but apparently they are not up on their civics. Dana Carter, the new principal of Calimesa Elementary School in Southern California’s Inland Empire, deemed it would be appropriate if the students were required to kneel in front of him (and other school officials) at various times of the day. I am not joking.

Something was apparently mumbled about safety. I know with all the school shootings and such, everybody is worried about safety, but this is the first I have ever heard about kneeling being used as a means to increase safety in any environment, anywhere.

It could also be that he did have the best interests of the students in mind, but kneeling has significant connotations that are important to us both in a democratic and a religious sense.

While many people do indeed kneel in the practice of their religion, this kneeling is considered part of a very personal and sacred spiritual relationship. It is not done lightly, nor is it forced — in a very real way, it is symbolic of a sacred trust. There are also obviously some countries, and various governments that do indeed require their citizens to kneel. We are not one of them.

Whether we are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, or anything else (actually, I’d like to see you try to get a bunch of Libertarians kneeling), we don’t do the kneeling thing in the US of A. I don’t honestly know what led to the decision that this was a good idea. Do other schools do this?

In all fairness, changes were made shortly after CBS Los Angeles broke the story. Make no mistake, the complaints were mounting from the parents. Nothing like a little public attention. Cali Binks, Unified School District Superintendent,  quickly announced that the kneeling policy would be immediately eliminated.

Yucaipa Calimesa Unified School District Superintendent Cali Binks told KCAL9 the policy – which was described as “positive behavior intervention” – will no longer be enforced at Calimesa Elementary after several parents spoke out against the practice. (CBS Los Angeles)

Is that it? How did it even get to the point that forced kneeling was considered an acceptable way to treat children, or any other citizen for that matter? As follow-up, the school district officials did say that Carter would have a meeting with parents to discuss other options to ensure the safety of their children. I would certainly like to be a fly on that wall.

Regina Garson

Raised in the hill country of central Alabama, Regina Garson has degrees in Behavioral Science, Communications, and English. A long time writer, editor and activist, her career has involved both the social and the hard sciences. She has devoted her efforts to a number of causes including the War on Drugs, equality issues: race/diversity/women, labor and workplace issues, NASA, STEM education, and space development. She is founder and publisher of, which is among the earliest self-help and wellness sites on the Internet. She also publishes a blog, where you can read more of her writing: Regina Garson's Blog. Follow her on Twitter @ReginaGarson, like her on Facebook, and read more of her articles in the archives.


Facebook comments

  • Lisa Garber

    May I suggest that we wait for the principal’s explanation before we jump the gun and blog about this? You know, responsible reporting and all that?

  • plala

    This writing is ridiculous. Can you not articulate what the story is? Why and when were the students kneeling, FFS? Good grief.

  • Michael Arnold

    I’m guessing he went to Catholic school as a child..

    • margaritaonthrox

      I went to Catholic school as a child. At no time was I forced to kneel in front of the principal or teachers.

      • Michael Arnold

        It was a joke, you know, like the whole “A Priest a Pedophile and a Rapist walk int a bar and he ordered a drink…” thing

    • Mary Jo

      Michael, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years. The only time it was required to kneel was when we were in church. Stand when someone like the Principal, a priest or a guest entered the room and do morning and dismissal prayers, yes, but never kneel.

      • katherine norton malek

        Second & third generation Catholic school educated all the way to college. As early as the 1950’s and 1960’s, we never knelt unless for prayer and designated times during the celebration of Mass. Both optional, not absolutely required, taking into consideration, the elderly or those with knee problems. While I certainly do not condone this archaic practice imposed on students, this article takes the issue a tad out of context (and pretty poorly written). I took the advice of a commentor and googled it. This article’s author did not accurately represent the subject. She writes as though kids must kneel before this teacher and others as though they were nobility or in obeisance. Indeed that is not the case. They have students go down on one knee – technically not a full kneel – when a bell rings and before they’re summarily dismissed to bolt to exit doors. Okay, it still seems dopey but hardly the obeisance this author suggests. Why not just make them sit with hands folded on top of their desks? Down on one knee as a pre-dismissal stance is a long way from kneeling in front of teachers and administrators as though they were 12th century monarchs. Journalistic ‘spin’ on subject matters if very Fox Newsy.

      • Tom

        Going down on one knee, as you probably know, is called genuflecting. It is done, in my experience (in the Episcopal/Anglican church) only for the most important times in a service to show extreme deference to something holy. I think this genuflecting is even worse than merely kneeling.

      • RRuin

        Journalistic spin? I don’t think so. Telling students they had to kneel on one knee in front of teachers and the Principal is a sickening policy designed to demean the students.

  • Jesse

    It’s really simple. There is a tool called Google. Type in a search query and you get immediate results on almost anything! The principal and
    other staff required students to kneel on one knee whenever the bell
    rang. The student would have to be dismissed by a staff member before
    they were allowed to stop kneeling. The principal said it was for safety
    reasons. Still sounds stupid pretty much any way you look at it.

    • plala

      Thank you for the google explanation. The world has opened up for me. I will no longer require writers to be articulate on their subjects.

      • Vic

        Not a dick. Reasonable expectation. It’s true, technology even makes writers lazy. Report or just post a link to google to someone else’s writing.

    • MARTinNJ

      Very catholic school.

    • robingee

      Wow. You’re kind of a dick.

    • GeorgiaYankee

      Sorry, I’m with plala and vic. The writer danced all around the topic without writing a sentence or two explaining the actual rule. Yet you’re apparently blaming the reader because the writer failed to write properly.

    • RRuin

      Not merely stupid but intended to show power over the students and humiliate and demean them.

  • MARTinNJ

    The policy of kneeling ‘won’t be enforced’. But it is still part of the written rules?

  • Trip Affleck

    turns out he didn’t think he was a king; he thought he was Zod…

    • Pipercat

      Next thing would have been to swear fealty!

    • Ivyfree

      No, Loki.

    • mickey

      coming from California I thought it was rah

  • gatorallin

    ah yes… the safety of the children…. If the Children all all kneeling to their one supreme leader as the principle at every bell ring or when he walks in they we can have their attention. Plus if there is a school shooting and all children are kneeling then they are in a lower position to avoid bullets… sure, its for their safety to bow or curtsey and repeat “you are the master oh great one”. It is for your safety that we teach you to obey without thinking.

  • Ekaterina Kaverina

    I don’t understand how he remains principal.

    • Pipercat

      Make that two of us….

    • Rodney Levenduski

      Make that 3 of us! As a retired teacher this guy should not be in charge of a school in the United States. The man is depraved. As a Chemistry teacher I was especially concerned with student safety so I would really like to hear Carter justify this action.

  • Tom Bray

    Did anyone actually try to understand why this was done, there are certain times of day when kids hear a bell and then run or rush (and the get hurt running), this was an attempt to make kids take a knee when the bell rung so they could be dismissed in orderly fashion. The principal didn’t have god complex. Typical crap journalism that did nothing to actually research what happened.

    • G Wagner

      Suppose the same mindset could be used to justify internment camps. Taking a knee, and kneeling, are two different things, and your lame justification is just that. If they needed to be dismissed in an orderly fashion, wouldn’t having them remain seated until they were dismissed accomplish the same thing?

      • Tom Bray

        Except this was occurring outside during recess… another sheep eating garbage journalism.

    • Cemetery Girl

      I volunteer in my kids’ classes. It is true that kids want to rush out to recess or lunch and of course to go home. I have not seen this be a major issue though because, at least here, the teachers have control. No orderly, quiet line for recess and recess will be missed. It is understood that they are kids, there will be whispers and little giggles, but they are reminded and usually stop. Kneeling isn’t needed because the teachers maintain control

    • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

      Yeah, but there are other things that one can do to keep them from running….Like if you hear a bell proceed to X & make a line…. Or sit down where you are…lots of other things that kneeling. Yes, the principal DID have a God complex. So, tell me adult Tom – if your boss at work said anytime you heard a bell YOU should kneel for your safety, would you? Kids are NOT dumb.

      • Tom Bray

        I took a knee everyday of football practice as a kid. Since my boss is an adult and so am I, the argument is just stupid. If the act of kneeling is a being used to have students pause it is no different that sitting, laying or anything else. Kids are not dumb but they are immature and need rules, boundaries etc.. Now if the teacher was asking them to prostrate themselves that would completely different matter. If the sheep on this site actually did some research you or if the author of this article actually interviewed some of the teachers (they have come out) the truth would come out.

      • Glenna Jones-Kachtik

        Tom sent me a reply but I don’t see it. I can agree that the author’s title was a bit much; but there are so many other ways to solve this problem without kneeling. I d on’t really think that either I nor the author needs to do any other research – this is just an area where we won’t see eye to eye. It is ridiculous to make kids kneel when they hear a bell so they don’t go wild. Get in a line….Sit in your desk….Stop where you are…Freeze, until the teacher tells you to move…. Any of those would work really well without dropping to one knee. By the way, these seem to be elementary kids – not playing football….

    • Mac Macaroo

      “…this was an attempt to make kids take a knee when the bell rung so they could be dismissed in orderly fashion”

      It’s an elementary school. What’s wrong with having them stand in rows at their desks and dismissing one row at a time?

      • Tom Bray

        Nothing at all, but to twist this into something a kin to prostration is laughable.

      • kellywood

        Because that wouldn’t be humiliating enough, apparently. That would be reasonable.

    • Reconnector

      I am with everyone else ! Only kneeling need be done is this douche kneeling in the county jail before a line of prisoners that are in need of a “kneeler”. His gad complex would soon leave !!

      • Tom Bray

        Go drink you Mt Dew, and watch some TV.

    • Tom Bray

      I took knee every day of football, basketball, baseball and track beginning and end. No one took it out context and made it into some god complex for our coaches. What is really funny that you guys act like a bunch of cattle do not even expect that the writer (Gina) to provide the actual context of what happened… big surprise there… Every thing now a days is just some political log to be thrown onto the fire. The news is a joke, Gina is a joke. God forbid we actual expected a journalist to something other than read another news story and write something else and turn it into a political issue… There is a reason the only good american news outlet is the BBC..

  • Jared

    We might as well all be kneeling. The government has had us bent over for years. For all of you saying, “well, hello no..I’m not bowing for anyone,” realize that we (me included) aren’t really standing up for anything either; at least not in any meaningful sense. The government has us all right where they want to keep us, small share of the money, no means of enacting change, and enough flashy crap to keep us fat and pacified.

    • leemd46

      yeah, Jared, and they force us to drive on U.S. and state highways, city streets, have telephones, computers, electricity, take flights, from national and international airports, camp in state and federal parks, walk on sidewalks in our towns, flush our toilets and have the s(hit) go to a treatment plant and not our curb, accept a hand when we are flooded out, tornado or hurricanes hit. Down with all government Fed, State, and Local…tired of all that “flashy crap” keeping me fat and pacified.

    • Reconnector

      Jared STFU STOP WHINING YOU DOUCHE !!! We are sick of Whining ! You hate it sooooooooooooo much here find some place else that is better suited for you but stop whining and sobbing and bitching and moaning about every little gad damn thing you puss !

      • J P T

        I think the only whiny bitch here, is you. I can only imagine the way you would actually sound when saying the comment that you left ^above^. “Find some place that is better suited for you”, what is this the Island and you can vote people off?
        You’re the biggest douche of all time! Stop being so white and entitled.
        Oh and get a new icon pic, the one you have is lame.
        Is that, is that a tear I see forming in your pussy bitch eyes?

      • Reconnector

        LMMFAO you stupid little kochsuckerface ! Here is what you do doofus, get on the nearest interstate pull out in front of a Semi and end all of that desperation and pain you little crybaby ! OBTW Native AMERICAN there not that it is your business and you like 300 million others are in MY Country illegally ! I am a Retired E9, Master Chief Petty Officer and when I saw STFU you can hear it next door maggot !! You crybabies are all the same you just bitch, I take action and you seem to have picked a fight you do want to have snotball.

      • Cam

        kochsuckerface? snotball? STFU? pussy bitch? what are you guys? 12 years old?

      • kellywood

        8 or 9, tops. Keyboard warriors who have to take their aggression out on strangers on the internet.

    • Kellywood

      Speak for yourself. If you choose not to be involved and to be active in your own country to change what you believe is wrong, that’s on you. I’m involved in my community, state and federal government.

  • NikNIkkel

    I can’t think of a better way to create hard core rebellious students. Ol Mr god here must be pretty confused about his place in the universe.

  • Howard Matthews

    That guy needs to be put somewhere where he can’t intimidate children…like Mars…or at least deep space

  • Reconnector

    Some people are alive because it’s illegal to just kill them ! This douche needs to be sent to the local County Jail for an afternoon of “Kneeling”, for attitude adjustment ! The prisoners there, could instruct this pretty boy in the proper posture, duration and activities one should accomplish before “Kneeling” is completed, and the proper etiquette, before, during and after. No doubt “wet wipes” would be proper gear for before and after festivities !!

    • Brian

      overreact much?

  • Rodney Levenduski

    After reading what some others (I’m embarrassed to say)researched on the topic, and remembering my Army days, “taking a knee” was a way for the sergeants or officers to be seen by everyone when passing out information or orders to the ‘group’ [under certain circumstances, not always]. Under this context it appears LESS STUPID than it did but is not anywhere near acceptable; in my opinion.

  • jeffos

    I went to public school. I was requierd on many occasions to bend over befor the principal or any teacher that so desired and have have my arse smacked with a long hard behandled board made of pine or oak. Sometimes this was for my safety, teaching me to follow rules better, and others it was for the edification and entertainment of said educator. And to this day I hear people saying it was a good thing. But it was not. It was a terrible thing.

    • shopper11

      I taught at schools that did this and at ones where it was not allowed. In those, students could be made to stay after school and the parents had to come and pick them up. Many parents would have preferred the spankings – less trouble for them. But it did get them more involved with their kids and probably improved the need for discipline faster than the spankings.

  • mvlinn21

    I know I shouldn’t judge someone from a photo, but this guy looks like a creepy pedophile to me.

    • Reconnector

      Agree 100%, hidden camera in the little boys room I bet !!!

  • Hershell_Bryant

    The Inland Empire is an island of Kentucky in our great state. Floor-floppers and snake handlers.

  • BigDan Bigdan

    The day one of my kids or anyone would be forced to do this. I work on a school. I would never allow my students to do this. Unless it is theater or part of an educational issue. For real? He made them kneel. He should have his citizenship revoked and sold in Dubi.

  • Jim Wetherell

    I kneel to no one, F…U , Kochsuckers.

  • John1966

    Wow, the hypocrisy meter didn’t just peg, it exploded. After all your slobbering over Obama The Holy Socialist Racist Savior Of The World Who Can Do No Wrong, why does this bother you?

    • rue2u2


      • John1966

        Wow, you are such an Obama worshipper don’t even realize how biased you are.

    • kellywood

      Know what’a almost as pathetic as this douche making kids genuflect to school staff? Someone making EVERYTHING about President Obama.

      • John1966

        If the shoe fits…

  • raggedcompany

    Back in my day (and for crying out loud, I’m not even thirty), they just made us sit quietly at our desks. Is that too difficult a concept in these troubled times?

    • Tom Bray

      That don’t have desks outside.

  • Matthew Reece

    Public schools are an institutionalized form of child abuse.

  • Travis T-bird Jonas

    why are Earth is this person even a principal? Remove him.. he obviously has a superiority complex

  • Zod


  • shopper11

    Back in the 60s before dress codes got lax in public schools, the school I taught at could require girls to kneel to check the length of their skirts. If they didn’t touch the floor, they were too short. This was a middle school and the girls were in rapid growth stages. We had a mixture of those who wanted really short skirts and those who were just growing too fast. The kids knew this could happen to them and no one ever objected – parents accepted it, too.

    • kellywood

      It’s not the 60’s and if someone made my kid kneel for any reason, they’d have a shitstorm on their hands. If a teacher can’t tell that a skirt is too short by looking at the kid standing there, it’s not.

  • shopper11

    Back in the 60s before dress codes got lax in public schools, the school I taught at could require girls to kneel to check the length of their skirts. If they didn’t touch the floor, they were too short. This was a middle school and the girls were in rapid growth stages. We had a mixture of those who wanted really short skirts and those who were just growing too fast. The kids knew this could happen to them and no one ever objected – parents accepted it, too.

  • Russell C Lewis

    Who thinks up this krap?

  • Sister Sanford

    When you combine fear, irrationality and a very confused ego, that’s what you get: you demand others around you to adhere to stupidity so that the world appears less complicated for you. A position of leadership becomes one of control when you need others to be converted into germs so that you feel better with your own germ-like self. Hopefully those same parents that spoke out will do something to take this man away from their children and that school. What kind of citizenship distorted ideals have those children learned during the times they were told to do so?

  • Ann Scattergood

    Can you say unemployment line?

  • LateNightLarry

    This guy reminds of Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum… RepuliCLOWN G-O-D-complex.

  • trenaherringtonchapman

    Is this like football players taking a knee?

  • ZanyZoe

    California isn’t always so liberal – like other states, it has pockets of conservatism especially in rural areas & Orange county etc. This is so crazy

  • DScott

    If this was about safety when the bell rang, which is a real stretch, you simply tell the children if you’re talking to the principle you wait until he dismisses you. Simple. The kneeling was not about that. That guy should go. If this isn’t a red flag I don’t know what is.

  • jchastn

    Americans DO NOT KNEEL. Not to anyone. Period.

    • Lyola M Roeske Shafer


  • patsijean

    SAFETY? I would think that kneeling like that would be dangerous in a bad situation.

  • StephanieP

    Sick control freak Megalomaniac who, I agree, should NOT be in charge of any aspect of children’s lives —— this creep shouldn’t be “in charge” of anyone, for that matter…….. Get the freak out of that school yesterday!!!!!

  • TMeservey

    This article feels like it’s missing a large part of the story. All schools have lockdown drills in case they are targeted by freedom-loving Americans with guns. One thing they have to do is contain the kids somewhere and keep them in a safe position, quiet, and still. MAYBE they decided that kneeling during the drill would keep kids in one place and their heads below the window levels.

  • PJay

    This Joker would probably be welcomed in TX and other places in the South. You know, places where they haven’t advanced enough to understand positive reinforcement or effective discipline models. Instead they practice hitting children w a board. Most likely, kneeling could be added as just another way to cause children pain.

  • Karen Sheeley

    He should be run out of the country,even suggesting this sends up RED FLAGS for me!!

  • Comtessa de Metoncula

    That should be reason for immediate dismissal!

  • John Cross

    Sounds like my education gowing up in the UK, where every form of hierarchy was exacerbated. Besides all kinds of ways in which we were supposed to worship the faculty (standing when they come in, etc), there was also a big deal about grade level. The “senior” boys had all kinds of privileges and even lunch was regimented by grade level. Thank God I came back to America before that shit did me in completely.

  • Pelagic10

    He does know that “Inland Empire” is a metropolitan area and not in need of a ruling monarch, right?

  • kmeghan

    Looks like Weiner’s brother. What is wrong with people??!!