Quaker teacher fired for changing loyalty oath
California State University East Bay has fired a math teacher after six weeks on the job because she inserted the word “nonviolently” in her state-required Oath of Allegiance form.
“I don’t think it was fair at all,” said Kearney-Brown. “All they care about is my name on an unaltered loyalty oath. They don’t care if I meant it, and it didn’t seem connected to the spirit of the oath. Nothing else mattered. My teaching didn’t matter. Nothing.”
Modifying the oath “is very clearly not permissible,” the university’s attorney, Eunice Chan, said, citing various laws. “It’s an unfortunate situation. If she’d just signed the oath, the campus would have been more than willing to continue her employment.”
Modifying oaths is open to different legal interpretations. Without commenting on the specific situation, a spokesman for state Attorney General Jerry Brown said that “as a general matter, oaths may be modified to conform with individual values.”
“I honor the Constitution, and I support the Constitution,” she said. “But I want it on record that I defend it nonviolently.”
My take: stupid unthinking government action. First I can’t see what value the signing does at all. But even if you think there is some aim that having everyone sign supports does a Quaker inserting non-violently harm that aim in some way? Is it really unquestioningly doing whatever you are told that is the value that is what is being aimed for? Seems pretty clear to me from even this short article this teacher understands the constitution much better than most people and cares enough to take the values that constitution endorses seriously. While the government looks like they only care about getting their form on file and don’t care at all what the purpose of that form is (the purpose can’t really be just to coerce everyone to sign it, can it?).
To me she is doing a great service to defend that constitution with her actions. Hopefully she can do so and have her job. But standing up for what is right often can leave you worse off personally.
I understand that it is easier to ignore the purpose and just focus on compliance with the rules. But what does it say if your actions show that actually loyalty doesn’t matter and signing something you don’t believe is ok? It just bothers me that this loyalty oath situation puts an emphasis on empty promises above the true intent of the constitution. Devaluing it harms us all in the long term.
Related: The First Amendment – Public Management – Customer Un-focus