When her third-grade students silently protested the Pledge of Allegiance, a Texas teacher faced repercussions from the school administration.
Following a heated meeting with supervisors, she vented her frustrations in a viral TikTok video.
In the clip, viewed over three million times, she disclosed her reprimand for educating students about their legal and constitutional rights.
The School Expressed Their Concerns
On March 22nd, third-grade teacher Sophia DeLoretto-Chudy was pulled into a “check-in meeting” with an administrator at her Austin, Texas elementary school. Per her online account, DeLoretto-Chudy was then served with a “list of concerns” over her teaching methods, including issues with replying to emails, completing administrative responsibilities, adhering to the dress code, and (oddly) teaching Harry Potter as a book study.
What most worried the school, according to DeLoretto-Chudy, was her “intentional attempt in teaching [her] students about their legal and constitutional rights.” Hot under the collar, the 27-year-old teacher denounced her administrator on social media, where she posts under the name Sophia Marie (@sohp4president).
@soph4president you’d think I was teaching way out west but this is downtown Austin… #TeachingTexas ♬ original sound – Sophie Marie
“Why is that a concern?” DeLoretto-Chudy asked fellow Tik Tok users. Disturbed social media users soon flooded her comment sections. “I’m concerned that they find that concerning,” goes one remark with over 22,600 likes. “The censorship is unreal,” protested another online user.
The Class Learned The Origins of The Pledge of Allegiance
In a follow-up video, the Texas teacher provides additional context for the school’s concerns. After learning about propaganda and the Hitler Youth during Holocaust Remembrance Week, DeLoretto-Chudy’s class requested to know more about the origins of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“After learning during Holocaust Remembrance Week about propaganda and the Hitler Youth and why Hitler targeted young people, students, and children to spread his ideology, they were curious about where the Pledge of Allegiance came from in the United States,” she recalled in the video.
“We looked it up together, and we discovered after the Civil War when the country was divided about slavery, they needed to bring the country together… [so] they created the Pledge of Allegiance and required it is said in classrooms.”
Upon learning that it originated as an initiative to teach patriotism to schoolchildren following the Civil War, the third-graders then expressed a desire to protest the pledge.
The Teacher Enabled The Students To Think For Themselves
Rather than encouraging any “disruptive behavior,” DeLoretto-Chudy described teaching her students about silent protesting and using Colin Kaepernick as an example. Inspired by the former quarterback and civil rights activist, who famously knelt during the national anthem, the third-graders began sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance at school assemblies.
After noticing the students’ behavior, a school administrator allegedly accused DeLoretto-Chudy of “indoctrinating” the third-graders into protesting for “reasons they can’t fully understand.” In her Tik Tok video, the teacher sarcastically thanks the school for recognizing all the “hard work” she has done to “indoctrinate her students into being critical thinkers and making decisions for themselves, and not just because an authority tells them they have to.”
@soph4president Why yes, thank you for noticing the indoctrination I’ve been working on for months! #TeachingTexas #pledgeofallegiance #teacher ♬ original sound – Sophie Marie
Online, DeLoretto-Chudy’s comment section flooded with support, including messages like “Keep up the good work [heart emoji]” and “You sound like a great teacher. Please keep encouraging their curiosity!!” Some Tik Tok users even sympathized with her third-graders, sharing their own experiences as elementary schoolers in Texas: “[M]y mom got pulled into school for a meeting about me because I was pledging allegiance to myself.”
Fellow educators offered the young teacher advice on how to move forward with her situation. “I’d make a call to the union,” suggested one out-of-state user, which prompted a conversation about unionization in Texas. Another netizen suggested that DeLoretto-Chudy might soon have to seek a job in a different school district based on personal experience. “ANNDDDD this is why I left public education and will never ever, ever go back,” concluded another teacher.
Termination of Employment
According to public internet records, DeLoretto-Chudy was working as a third-grade teacher at Becker Elementary School in Austin, Texas when the incident occurred. In a recent Tik Tok, the teacher revealed she was placed on administrative leave in March and received a termination letter as recently as early May.
@soph4president quick! everyone act surprised that schools don’t have enough staff to fill teaching positions next year! #teachingtexas #texasteacher #teachersoftiktok ♬ original sound – Little fox
Undaunted, the young educator remains a vocal political activist on her social profiles. In March 2023, she was featured on local news as a protestor in a rally for increasing public school funds. “I teach at a bilingual school, and we didn’t have Spanish-English dictionaries in our classroom. It is basic supplies. And teachers are being asked to provide for their students,” said DeLoretto-Chudy, who also alleges to have spent hundreds of dollars out of her own pocket on classroom supplies.
While DeLoretto-Chudy’s time at the Austin school might have come to an end, she remains a committed advocate to multiple social causes. Her online presence shows her continuous support for LGBTQ rights, immigrant welfare, and gun control, among other issues. Whether she chooses to return to teaching (outside of her district or state) remains to be seen.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.