IN the Boys’ High School of Reading, Pa., about June 27, 1898, a lad named Deeter was the valedictorian of the graduating essay in which, says Harper’s Weekly, he “commented unfavorably on the practice very much in favor now in American schools of attempting to instil [sic.] patriotic sentiments into school children by drilling them in singing patriotic songs, and by causing them to repeat, somewhat parrot-like, high sounding sentiments which few of them can be expected to understand.”
This, the principal of the school, one “Dr. Shribner,” decided to be “unpatriotic:” and for it, he punished the boy by refusing to sign his diploma. However the “Dr.” (with the foreign name) would let the boy have his diploma if he would “take it unsigned.”
That boy is highly honored by being so “punished” for such an “offense.” A diploma without that man’s name to it would be a far greater honor than with it. We hope the boy eagerly accepted the diploma without that name signed to it.
Harper’s truly says, “The expediency of this feature of public school education seems fairly open to discussion: and attempts to choke of reasonable and decorous criticism of its methods are likely to have an effect the opposite of that desired. The sort of patriotism that is so boisterous about ‘Old Glory’ that it discountenances free speech should try to get its bearings, and make sure it is not off its course.”
But the trouble is that these “Dr’s.” with foreign ideas as well as foreign names, have not yet got their bearings as to either free speech or patriotism. And they think they must enforce in American schools and upon American children, their foreign and despotic ideas and make them count and be accepted for patriotism. Such persons are not fit to be in any American school—except as pupils to be taught American ideas.
The other great trouble in this connection is that there are too many people who profess to be Americans  and patriotic and loyal to American ideas, who will not only employ these fellows with foreign ideas and names, but will support them in their un-American and despotic conduct toward American boys who advocate sound American principles.
And thousands of other school teachers, principals, etc., who profess to be Americans and patriotic and loyal to American ideas, to free speech, etc., think themselves exceptionally patriotic in endorsing the foreign and despotic principles, and in aping the tyrannical conduct of these men of foreign ideas as well as foreign names.
The people of Reading, Pa., should without delay see to it that there is placed at the head of their boys’ high school a man who knows the American principles of both patriotism and free speech; and who will not make himself a despot in the interests of “patriotism.”
And there are just now many other places in the United States where the people should attend to the same thing.
A. T. J.