Wolf, I agree ... you study war but can't support a soldier does seem hypocritical...
But, keep in mind that it's the STATE that chooses the textbooks, the districts that make their code of conduct. Least, I'm trying to remember that, it's really annoying but your every day principal, or even super doesn't have that much control over what is taught. All they really have control over is the environment it is taught in. And nowadays the primary concerns seem to be test scores and to avoid lawsuits. That said, it does seem kind of dumb for a teacher to assign a What Is Patriotism project in the first place. Someone was bound to mention soldiers... that article says this project was for a meeting of pen pals at another school... locally... so, I'm kind of stumped as to what patriotism has to do with a local pen pal meeting... why would the teacher tell kids to make hats that carried messages like that when not only her students, but other school's student's might get in a tizzy? Did anyone see where the school itself said what the project was? Maybe it wasn't Patriotism... maybe it was just Make A Hat and this kid (his parents) chose to go this route? Since the school is covering their bum/respecting privacy laws they aren't talking, only the parents are... so I doubt we'll know for sure.
But I don't feel the kid was really punished for this... he just wasn't allowed to wear the hat with armed soldiers on it... school told them if the armed ones were removed/replaced with unarmed then it was fine... it was the guns they had a problem with, not the soldiers or the message... they could have expelled him for it technically, but they didn't... they offered an alternative that would make him able to still wear it... it was his parents that went nuts and refused to let him fix it so he could wear it... THEY made him wear a plain cap. Then contacted the media and made a bit tadoo over it. School made one phone call, To The Parents, to give them honest information, and then left the decision in their hands.
No different really than if I sent my DD to school in spaghetti straps... Not Allowed at all via the dress code we were given on day one... they'd call me and say you can come get her, or bring her another shirt, but she can't be in class with this on. So, then I'd bring her another shirt (every day of learning matters so she wouldn't be coming home just for that!) and then she'd go about her day. They wouldn't punish her for it (maybe in high grades? I donno) but they also wouldn't let her be a distraction to other kids. And I can accept that, because I know the rules and let her walk out of the house wearing it. If that makes ANY sense.