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.


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