Loyalty Oaths in Education

Did you know California teachers are required to sign a loyalty oath to the state and the US? And a Quaker math teacher was fired for adding a “nonviolent” clause in her own handwriting to it?

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.”

She was eventually rehired, and a “signing statement” attached to her oath form.

Kearney-Brown, though happy to be going back to work, said she remains disappointed by the university’s handling of the matter. “Here was an issue of religious freedom and they weren’t defending the Constitution,” she said.

Her ordeal behind her, she said she still views the loyalty oath as a useless requirement.

“The way it’s laid out, a noncitizen member of Al Qaeda could work for the university but not a citizen Quaker,” she said. “Why not an oath that says, ‘I will respect every student,’ or ‘I will vote in every election.’ Something that makes sense.”