Southern Brooklyn

Coney Island Principal Receives Hate Mail After Banning Patriotic Song


Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School at 2840 West 12th Street, has come under scrutiny for disallowing the graduating kindergartners to sing Lee Greenwood’s flag-touting tune “God Bless the USA,” also known as “Proud to be an American.”

The class, who had practiced the song in preparation for the school’s June 20 musical commencement ceremony, was told to drop the song at a recent rehearsal.

Staff at the rehearsal quote Hawkins as stating that she did not want to “offend other cultures,” according to the New York Post.

The Department of Education stands behind the principal saying that Hawkins found the lyrics “too grown up” for 5-year-olds.

“The lyrics are not age-appropriate,” said a department spokesperson. Last year, the song was sung by fifth-graders.

Instead, the program now calls for Justin Bieber’s, “Baby,” a pre-teen love ballad.

Congressman Bob Turner has issued a statement denouncing Hawkins’ decision:

Its both shocking and unfathomable that anyone – let alone an educator – would have objections to allowing American students to sing patriotic songs about our nation’s freedom. The principles our country was founded on are unlike anywhere else in the world and it is both sensible and just for our history to be celebrated in our schools. Further, allowing Kindergarten students to sing a Justin Beiber song, while barring ‘God Bless the USA,’ demonstrates that this principal lacks the judgment necessary to be in a leadership position in our city’s public schools.

Her decision was a violation of First Amendment rights and has no place in our public education system. She should immediately issue an apology to the families of PS 90 and be reprimanded for her actions.

This is not the first questionable situation to have taken place under Hawkins’ watch. Reports have come forth regarding Hawkins’ objections to children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “America the Beautiful.”

Hawkins, who sits during the morning Pledge of Allegiance because she is a Jehova’s Witness, has also been quoted as saying “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming,” during a previous staff meeting.

The DOE claims that Hawkins is being targeted by the teachers union because of her progressive attitude and that she  received racist hate mail. The NYPD is taking the threats seriously and investigating the hate mail.

Comment policy


  1. “Progessive attitude”? There isn’t anything Progressive about this lady. But yes, let’s start painting a broadbrush of all people labeled “Progressive” or “Liberal” with the actions of this lady. 

    It sounds like her agenda is based in her religion…and last I checked, us commie pinko liberal america-haters were atheists (the worst sin of all) so…you know…there.

    I can’t stand that Lee Greenwood song myself but I’d sooner paint myself red, white, and blue and spew a bunch of meaningless “patriotic” platitudes designed to boost the self-esteem of yokels with nothing better in their lives then be subjected to singing, hearing, or even acknowledging the existence of Justin Beiber and his music.

  2. First off, there’s no need for hate mail. It just makes a martyr out of the principal. It’s not a job for hate mail.

    This is a job for the Sanitation Department. She should be promptly removed along with the rest of the trash.

      I have no problem with the Justin Bieber song (although I understand there are lyrics in there probably not appropriate for kindergarten). The kids like it, let them sing it.

      It’s very paramount that  these educations, who try to shove their own agenda down young kids’ throats, be sent packing, far away from educating our population. And those of you who think it’s okay because you agree with her agenda, well, don’t come howling and protesting when some far right wing nut starts teaching his view of the world to children.

        Education is NOT indocrination. There’s a huge difference. This principal needs to learn it. This principal has had other incidents, pointing to the fact  that it is very dangerous for her to continue in her position. There must be hundreds if not thousands of qualified AP’s that could step in and do the job the right way. I know a few myself.

  3. Why is FOX news in Detroit covering this?? That is one big question I have. This is a political issue and will be used to show NY liberals are anti-American. What we have is a radical conservative Christian Sect pushing its belief system on others. Nothing about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is liberal or progressive. Is Bob Turner joining in a lie or does he just not know the truth?

    As for the song, I agree it is not age appropriate, but not terribly so. I don’t thing Justin Bieber’s Baby is any better. Sticking with the classics like American the Beautiful is best, but everyone but the kids have heard them a million times. Always a tough call. I would just leave it, and tell the teachers not to use it again. The kids had already learned it. 

  4. We have racist people are on levels of society from average homeless person (harmless) to an assholes with PHD…”Hawkins, who sits during the morning Pledge of Allegiance because she is a Jehova’s Witness, has also been quoted as saying “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming,” during a previous staff meeting.” My wife who is a nurse at Maimonides Medical Center used work in the unit with majority black nurses..they used to abuse her and be flat out racist…

  5. She got her job,because she is black. The city goes out if it’s way to find and hire black teachers,and promote them to administrative positions. Affirmitive action gone too far.

  6. The US needs more soldiers, so lets brainwash our kids with God Bless America.

    Sing it at home with your kids if that’s your thing.

    Kids should not be forced to sing patriotic songs at school.


  7. Funny you mentioned it, since this song did always remind me of it’s Soviet equivalents.

    “Pioneer, to fight for the cause of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, be prepared!”

  8. I hate to say it, but I loved hearing the Soviet national anthem when we played you guys in ice hockey. Oh yeah, also when Rocky fought Dolph Lundgren too. It was a good tune. Beats the heck out of ours.

  9. Maybe you’d prefer they learn the theme song from ‘Dumb and Dumber’.  I’m not sure exactly what is wrong with patriotism.  Should we teach them NOT to be proud of our country and our heritage?  Just what do you sing along to your kids??

  10. if this would have been my kid, i would have strongly objected to my child singing or reciting anything that involves the following words – “under god” ” thank you god” , “god bless”….. I would be strongly against any school forcing children reciting these things.

    so i guess i would be happy with the decision to get rid of the song. but replace it with Bieber??? really???  

    i remember when i was in elementary school we sang songs – like – “holiday” by the bee gees.

  11. its a pompous tune. 

    as a kid i always imagined a very round, huge man with a big belly, with a mustache waddling to the beat of the song, in a top hat. 

    Also, the words are kinda ironic —- Soyuz ne rushimyi – Unbreakable Union? well… that turned out swell. 

  12. well. it all depends on how you define patriotism, and what it means to be proud of your country… and heritage….. you are aware that USA, esp NYC, is pretty multicultural….. what heritage should these children be proud of? what i’m trying to say here is — What do you mean? 

  13.  We don’t need “The Star Spangled Banner”. It really is a lousy song. “America the Beautiful” is singable and a nice piece of writing as well. If we were an intelligent country that would be our National Anthem.

  14. That’s a Russian stereotype you’re guilty of, the short fat bald serious Commie that was in every 60s political movie- they were all Khruschev…

    I prefer the Brigette Nielson stereotype myself.

  15. i didnt grow up in russia… and only saw russian stereotypes when i moved here when i was a bit older.

    also brigette nielson is not russian. she’s from denmark. which is not russia.

  16. Ironic that Greta Hawkins, Principal of PS 90 and one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (a follower of The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society), will not extend to others the freedom her cult fought for in the US Supreme Court.  This mentality if typical of Jehovah’s Witnesses and should disqualify any of them from holding any kind of public service job. If that’s “not fair,” screw her and her bigoted mind control cult.

  17. This story has absolutely zero to do with the song. Nobody
    at the school is “outraged” and nobody cares about what a bunch of five year
    olds sing at their graduation. People need to stop debating the merits of the
    song and need to wake up to what the actual story is all about.

    For a number of years, parents all across Coney Island have unknowingly
    sent their children to a school largely staffed by supporters of Vicky Giasemis,
    a 5th grade teacher and UFT chapter leader whose entire pedagogical
    career revolves around meticulously crafting her workday in a way that allows
    her to do as little work as possible. She dissects the teacher contract, constantly
    consults the Brooklyn UFT office and does anything and everything else that she
    can to do as little work as her union will allow. A simple Google search will
    reveal that “parent outrage” at the school for a variety of issues all year
    long have all been from the same three people: Luz Lozada, Heidi Rotondo and
    Sandra Leon, good friends of Vicky’s that she has coached all along the way. THAT’s
    the story… not “God Bless the USA” but the work Vicky is doing to get a brilliant,
    hardworking principal fired because the principal believes in making her
    teachers write quality lesson plans for their students (among many other things
    that Giasemis refuses to do).  Every one
    of these ridiculous news articles has an untold backstory and unbelievable degree
    of media spin.

    Yes, the majority of the people on here won’t believe me and
    most of the people won’t do anything about it… and that’s fine. But if you’re a
    parent with a child at PS 90, there’s a fair chance that your child is being
    educated by Vicky or one of Vicky’s minions who put their union contract ahead
    of your child’s education. Do some homework, poke around, and find out what’s
    happening in your child’s school.

    Concerned parent

  18. She is truly a representation of why the NYC school system doesn’t work.  She demeans the truly good teachers and principals who honestly want to do a good job and positively influence our children.  But will the Department of Education remove her?  Of course not!  Because they’re morons and incompetents just as she is.  Personally, I think the parents should not allow their children to participate in the commencement ceremony.  Perhaps they can organize a performance in a nursing home – where they will be really appreciated!  In fact, I do a September 11th memorial every year.  If anyone knows who these kids are, let me know.  I’d love to have them sing God Bless the USA at our memorial in September!  Seriously!  Let me know!

  19. lighten up.l i was referring to levp’s comment. and i know brigette Nielson is not from Russia. She played a Russian in a Rocky movie duh

  20. What about this great principal’s racist comment, heard plain and clearly. Had a white person said that about African-Americans, or anything remotely resembling, such principal would have been immediately fired, maybe prosecuted. This lady is getting protective treatment because of her race, and I ain’t afraid to say it. The courts have already ruled that some groups of people have more rights than others, and those rulings lead immediately to this situation of a principal imposing craziness on little kids.

  21. i think the parents should organize a protest. I will join in with great pleasure. Such people need to be removed from the school system. They’re dangerous.

  22. actually, bruce oh-the-enlightened-one, your response was to me. 

    also. it was a joke. sorry, i forget that there are some people that dont understand sarcasm. 

  23. Agreed on all counts.

    Frankly, I don’t see what is wrong with instilling a sense of patriotism in all our children. I said the pledge every day in elementary school and it didn’t stop me from speaking my mind as a teenager during the Viet Nam War when i thought my country’s policy was wrong. Maybe if we all felt a little bit more strongly about the values that the flag and our country are supposed to embody, we could get our values straight. Even more, perhaps we could start to get past some of the partisan bickering that goes on and find more common ground to get stuff done that actually matters in people’s every day lives.

    It would likely remind us of the things that bind us and not divide us.

    This principal is just flat out wrong. While i respect her religious freedom, I think it is disrespectful of her to remain seated during the Pledge. She should leave the room. I bristle when Councilman Barron sits as we say the pledge at the beginning of Council meetings. (And this man wants to go to Congress!)

    There is nothing wrong with believing in this country. The pledge shouldn’t just be a bunch of memorized words. it should be a creed.

    The song may be a bit jingoistic, but it should offend no one. No one that is here enjoying the freedom that this country provides.

    I have heard  about this principal before. Clearly, she needs to be replaced. If for no other reason than she cannot seem to appreciate the cultures other than hers. Not acceptable.

    This entire story reflects a very serious problem in our society and out body politic. Very sad, indeed.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  24. We don’t want to offend other cultures,” This lady has no business to be an educator for our children. And she stated more of them are coming? Mike B, has to stop his agenda against smokers and soda drinkers, because he has a huge problem in the city.
    Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School at 2840 West 12th Street get out of our school system and drive a city bus. LOL

  25. Correct me if I am wrong, but what amendment to the Constitution prohibits offending others?  Free speech, by its very nature, is offensive.  I may not agree with what a neo-nazi says, but I’ll die for his right to say it.  I may not agree with what a left-wing socialist says, but I’ll die for his right to say it as well.  It seems that our politically correct speech police are way out of line.  I agree that I don’t think this is a case of liberal America-hating.  I think it is religiously based.  But in our society it does seem that it is okay to verbally bash conservative groups, but to do so to liberal or progressive groups is off limits.

  26. I don’t see this as being about patriotism. It’s about singing nationalist songs at school. I mean the pledge of allegiance isn’t enough, not to mention the whole God thing inherent in the tune.

    What about separation of Church and state, maybe certain parents don’t want their kids being forced to sing about god at a public school.

  27. Speaking of the Constitution–is what we’re seeing here a violation of the Establishment Clause?  By trying to actively discourage students from reciting the pledge, singing patriotic songs and honoring the country and its soldiers, it seems that she is trying to foist her religion upon all the other cultures, including sane, mainstream Americans and immigrants.  Perhaps she should give up education and go sell some Watchtowers instead.  

  28. Does anyone know how to get in touch with a parent of one of these kids?  I really mean it about them performing on September 11th!

  29. Waverly, from your comment I don’t understand whether you think Greta Hawkins is right or wrong.  She has the right to her own opinion, and she has the right to voice her opinion, but she does not have the right to control the behavior of others.  She crosses the line when she tries to force you, or me, or one of her students from singing “God Bless The USA.”

    Let her go stand on a street corner with her Watchtower and AWAKE! magazines and spout whatever ignorant misology she wants; she has the RIGHT to make an ASS of herself in public.  But she’d better keep her hands off of me or my kids.

     –  Illya Kuryakin, U.N.C.L.E.

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