It is the first or second week of class in most US schools, and this is when students, parents, and teachers find out what’s new. One of the things being added in schools around the country this year, as has been the case several years running, is the requirement that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in class every morning, or in some cases, weekly. You can work against letting this happen in your local school.
There are several reasons that this is objectionable and I hope you will assemble some of these reasons and add your own, to craft an email to the principal and school board superintendent where you pay your taxes. I promise you that there are people pressuring the school boards to require the Pledge to be said daily. In one local school in Minnesota, teachers were told during their first staff meeting “The pressure’s been on for years. We’re giving in this year because we really can’t hold out any longer,” and thus, henceforth, a few minutes of the first period of every day would be devoted to organizing the students, making them stand up, reciting the pledge with them.
Before we get to the reasons to oppose this policy (and to take action in doing so), let me make a few things very clear. First, do not assume that I’m against the Pledge of Allegiance of that I am not a Patriotic American. Noting about the pledge itself, or pledges in general, or my love of country, will be found in reasons to oppose this policy, except for one detail that will be made plain. Second, while it is technically true that a student can opt out of the Pledge (probably), this is irrelevant. In fact a student is not able to sit out the pledge, especially in grade school or middle school. Rules are rules and rulings on rules are fine, but anyone who thinks a Middle School kid can buck the trend without serious consequences is kidding themselves. Third, any opt-out policy for students simply does not apply to teachers. They can in fact be told to say the pledge of allegiance in class or lose their jobs. In sum: a) this is not about patriotism or pledges; and b) in practice, a “say the pledge” rule is an unavoidable requirement for all regardless of any technicalities.
Here are the reasons to not require that the Pledge of allegiance be recited periodically, especially daily or weekly, in American Public Schools:
1) In all schools some an in many schools many students are not Americans. If you are not an American citizen and you are required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you may feel uncomfortable, you may be doing something that you feel is wrong, and in many cases … and please do take this seriously … you may be committing an illegal act. My daughter is currently in High School. If she was required to say a Pledge in her school, she would be carrying out an Un-American Act and probably violating some law, because she is an American Citizen in high school overseas. In one school near my house, up to 25 or 35% of the kids in a given class are not US citizens. There, they were required to say the pledge and teachers who taught there were well aware of the discomfort they felt, with some teachers eventually just giving up and not requiring it in their classroom against school policy.
2) Americans have freedom of speech and this also means freedom of silence. A pledge to the principles of our nation should acknowledge that. Therefore requiring people to recite the pledge endlessly is an absurdity which can to little other than fuel cynicism among our students for our system of government and our society.
3) A pledge, if taken seriously, normally lasts for longer than one day or one week. The President of the United States does not recite the Oath of Office every day. Just once every four years, max. We are sending the message that we don’t trust or believe our children.
4) Here’s the specific-to-the-pledge part: The Pledge of Allegiance includes the term “Under God” and it is therefore a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States and an offense to people who do not wish to utter those words for one reason or another. The “jury” as it were is still out on this officially, but if I recall correctly the last challenge to the God Clause ended because of an issue of standing. But even if the courts do not rule any time soon that you can’t force a bunch of school children to pray in this manner, it should still not be allowed in our public schools. See above if you were thinking that students could simply opt out of this phrase.
5) Did you notice that forcing the Pledge of Allegiance into the school day was not an act of patriotism but rather an attempt to get at least a tiny bit of Christian God Fearing prayer into the public schools? This is not OK.
6) Society is willing to make constant and repeated demands on our schools to address endless social issues, but is rarely willing to do the most important thing it could do to make public schools work: Reduce class size without reducing the professional nature of the system. As long as society refuses to provide schools with the resources and support they need to educate our children, society should refrain from chipping away at the precious hours of time available for our educators to work with. A daily pledge interferes significantly with learning. Don’t allow it to happen in your school.
Please take this seriously. It can not be hard to find the email of the principals of the schools in your district, and the school board members and superintend or whatever administrative overlords your local system keeps on the books. Don’t bother trying to find the current policy in your school; It is their job to tell you that. Just craft a letter indicating that the Pledge should not be required on a daily or weekly basis, give a few reasons, and ask what the current policy is now and what changes are planned for the future. Even if your school does not require the pledge now, there IS pressure for them to do so in the future. Your letter or email will help balance that pressure.
OK, everybody. You know what to do. Move out!