Colorado Teacher Allegedly Assaulted a Student Who Refused to Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

“Trump will make American great again! Obama should die!”

A student at a middle school in Lafayette, Colorado, says she heard a teacher yell these words before watching a boy run out into the hall.

The boy had been in physical education teacher Karen Smith’s classroom. The student reportedly refused to stand for the daily Pledge of Allegiance — something that angered Smith. Though it’s not yet clear how, Smith allegedly assaulted the student while shouting her pro-Trump sentiments.

Karen Smith has being a teacher in the Boulder Valley School District for 20 years, a spokesman says. She is currently on paid administrative leave while police investigate. It is not publicly known whether the incident resulted in injuries, but Smith may face criminal charges.

Though the details of the incident are currently being withheld from the public because the incident involves a minor, if the existing reports are corroborated then Smith’s actions demonstrate a troubling example of the mounting fanatical nationalism – and jingoism — in the United States. But this trend did not emerge suddenly out of nowhere.

Not terribly long ago, I was a student in Colorado’s public school system. And, frankly, when I learned of this incident, I was not at all surprised. While I was taken aback somewhat that a teacher — allegedly — used physical force against a student, this incident was merely the logical result of trends set in motion years ago.

Though Colorado today is typically viewed by non-residents as a blue state with liberal ideas — recreational marijuana, for instance — that’s not terribly accurate. In truth, if you take more than two steps outside of Denver or Boulder, Colorado suddenly becomes extremely conservative. Just look at Colorado Springs.

I went to public school in a small district — not unlike Lafayette — and was surrounded by friends and teachers with right-wing mentalities. At that time, the debate over whether or not to invade Iraq was raging, and I was one of the few students who vocally opposed the idea. One of the ways I expressed my discontent for the Bush administration was by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

In this era, hyper-nationalism was in vogue, and all students were asked to stand, hand over heart, staring at the U.S. flag while the Pledge was recited over the PA system each day. It angered some of my friends and incensed my science teacher — who, by the way, absolutely refused to teach anything even remotely related to evolution theory — that I remained seated.

Not long after I began my silent protest, the principal, an ex-Marine who spent his weekends in Colorado Springs, was summoned and he furiously demanded I at least stand during the Pledge. He explained to me that I was insulting all Americans by refusing to perform this act of blind worship.

I tell this story because it is important to understand that what recently happened in Lafayette did not occur in a vacuum. An extreme example perhaps, but it was an almost inevitable incident that may continue to happen — and not just in Colorado.

President Trump and his dedicated supporters are feverishly pushing an “America first” agenda, which is firmly rooted in nationalism. And one need only look to the first half of the 20th century to see how well nationalism served Europe; it resulted in the two bloodiest conflicts humanity has ever seen.

Like it or not, it is 2018 and the world — especially the U.S. – cannot and will not recede to a pre-globalized era. To pretend that the future holds anything else, and to fight it, would be a Sisyphean battle.

Karen Smith, a woman tasked with educating America’s youth, should not be rewarded for her jingoist assault of a student with paid vacation. She should be dismissed from the Boulder Valley School District and prevented from ever working with children in the future.

Take action!

If you agree that Smith must be fired for allegedly assaulting a student, please consider adding your name to this Care2 petition. Together we can make a difference!

Photo Credit: Christopher Burns/Unsplash


Marie W
Marie W11 months ago

thanks for sharing

heather g
heather gabout a year ago

Thank God I wasn't subjected to anything like this where I grew up.

Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a year ago

Philip W, as a Wiccan I have refused to say the words "under God" when reciting the Pledge ever since I was a kid for precisely that reason. While I didn't discover that my religion had a name or come out of the broom closet till college, I knew about the addition of those two words being a part of the "Red Scare" of the McCarthy era when everybody's boogeyman du jour was the Communist under the bed. Same reasoning for all but doing away with our far more appropriate motto "E. Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One) and replacing it with the far more divisive "In God We Trust." Both are a slap in the face to non-monotheists. And yes, I taught both my kids to skip those words when reciting the Pledge as well for precisely that reason! This teacher needs to be re-educated in the 1st Amendment!

Past Member about a year ago

More racism and bigotry has been carried out under Old Gory (a.k.a. the Stars & Stripes) than was ever dreamed of let alone carried out under the Star & Bars (a.k.a. the Confederate flag). The same racism and bigotry still survives to this day, including slavery. Slavery has largely morphed into wage slavery and/or moved into the supply chain which keeps you from thinking about it since it's now out of site in foreign countries. America is the cultural equivalent of a six year old with the good guns trying to tell the rest of the world what to do. Add to that people like the bigoted pumpkin and George Duh-bya Bush and you start to understand why America is referred to as the wealthiest country but NEVER the greatest country (except by Americans who've swallowed their own propaganda whole), and certainly NEVER the "land of liberty" (except by Americans who've swallowed their own propaganda whole, which is also how you can tell the Book Of Mormon was never written by anyone other than an American).

Past Member about a year ago

I stopped saying the pledge of allegiance and standing for the national anthem decades ago.

Judie B
Judie Babout a year ago

Ann B., I doubt this "teacher" would be on paid administrative leave if there was no corroboration or evidence to the student's version of the events. Teaching violence and hate should NEVER be part of the curriculum.

Philip W
Philip Wabout a year ago

Ann B., Your comment raises the question, "would you sign the petition if it were proven that this teacher did assault this child and did violate this child's rights?" It also raises the question, "would you spank a child for not parroting the Pledge of Allegiance or standing for the National Anthem?"

So much for liberty and justice for all.

If these gestures of allegiance truly represented ALL of the Nation, I'm sure the people would not have a problem with stating that truth. The fact that the Pledge was bastardized by religious extremists in 1954 by adding the words "under God", excluding non-believers and essentially other faiths with its inherent bias, is justification enough for many people not to mindlessly recite the pledge. This religious addition created a paradox, effectively dividing and alienating a large part of the Nation while hypocritically stating that we cannot be divided. Some people cannot lie or delude themselves that easily.

Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Allegedly. Let's hear the facts before we make judgements.

Janet B
Janet Babout a year ago


Elaine W
Elaine Wabout a year ago

This behavior even if only verbal is child abuse and does not belong anywhere.