Pledge

To the Flag -- Pledge of Allegiance 5-9-09 2The Seattle Times ran a story earlier this week about a good old fashioned hullaballoo at the John Stanford School: incoming principal Jesely Alvarez announced that students would be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each school day.

While it is technically state law (and has been for decades) that the pledge be recited, the school district has historically left it up to individual principals whether to enforce it. JSIS’s previous principle, Kelly Aramaki, declined to enforce the rule, but according to the Times article, Alvarez is changing that:

 In a pair of letters sent to parents this week, Alvarez acknowledged some opposition from teachers but said that after a month of internal debate it was time “to move forward” in “following state law.”

“As adults in this school community, I believe it is important that we follow rules,” wrote Alvarez, who declined to comment for this story.

The pledge will be read over the PA system every Monday and recited in individual classrooms the other days of the week. Students who don’t want to participate will be allowed to sit or stand respectfully.

In case you’ve forgotten it from your childhood, the pledge reads:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.

No doubt there will be some angry disagreement, but to us, the move seems weird and anachronistic, and Alvarez’s decision to begin enforcement oddly tone deaf. With the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street on the left, our nation’s frustration with our system of government has been reaching a greater pitch and resolution than it has for at least 40 years, and she decides that’s the time to insist that children swear a loyalty oath at the beginning of every school day? What good does this kind of blind recitation serve?

There’s no escaping the implication that refusal to recite the pledge will be interpreted as disloyalty to the Unites States rather than, say, a belief that our first loyalty should be to the Earth as a whole and to the well-being of all good people who walk it, regardless of which country’s borders they were born inside, or perhaps a discomfort with the pledge’s blurring of the church-and-state separation that defined our country’s birth.

In our opinion, that’s a crappy position to put a child or their parent in. There are better ways to teach civics. What do you think?

(Thanks for the tip, Doug. Photo by Steven Depolo)

  1. j said,

    I say let the kids write their own pledge of allegiance. Gets them thinking about what they really believe in.

    By the way, do we all know that “under god” was an anti-communist addition in 1954? Seriously, no one should take any pledge without knowing what they’re pledging and why. There’s a fine line between following rules appropriately and following them mindlessly and without discussion.

    Sun, October 23 at 8:38 am
  2. eM said,

    I think it’s a teaching opportuniity regarding civil disobedience, the meaning of liberty and justice, the doctrine of separation of church and state, and empty platitudes. N
    For all of us, not just the students. I also think this principal is a wanker.

    Sun, October 23 at 8:42 am
  3. j said,

    Also, you know they say the pledge at McDonald already?

    Sun, October 23 at 8:45 am
  4. Ryan said,

    Maybe I am biased because I spent nine years serving this country (ok… I am biased) but I think this is a good idea because it teaches kids two things.

    It gives them an inkling that someone had to stand up and show their loyalty at some point by putting their life on the line for this country to give them what they have now. This is something we in relatively affluent areas of Seattle where few choose to serve can easily forget and our kids may never know.

    At the same time, this also gives them the opportunity to learn and exercise their equally important rights not to participate because they do not agree with something about the pledge.

    Both messages are equally important to the fabric of this country. So, my advice, would be to explain in an unbiased manner both sides of the story to kids, give them the ammunition to make an educated choice, and let them loose. See what they do (then write a new post about it).

    Sun, October 23 at 8:49 am
  5. j said,

    Ryan, I love that idea. The only thing I worry about is that 5 year olds can barely put their pants on forward – they’re not quite at the stage where they can make some pretty complex moral analyses.

    I think the kids would be better off having you come in and tell them the story of how you chose to serve in the interest of liberty and justice for all instead of having to recite the pledge. That would make a huge impression on kindergartners. I remember the pledge, but all I remember is not saying ‘under god’.

    And remember, some of us serve here at home by helping the neediest among us and dissenting from unjust government decisions. Not at all to diminish your service – I can’t ever imagine being brave enough to stand in the path of a bullet.

    Sun, October 23 at 9:10 am
  6. DOUG. said,

    Ryan@4: Those are high expectations for a five year old to meet. When I was a kid, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was a mindless daily repetition and the meaning of the words were lost on me. Now I realize that the words are borderline offensive, and pledging a loyalty oath to flag and country seems contrary to the original ideals of the United States. I wish I’d had the tools as a kid to digest what I was saying and then question the ritualistic recitation, but I didn’t. And I’m not sure kids today are much different.

    Sun, October 23 at 9:10 am
  7. buster g. said,

    Here is a re-posting of my comment yesterday on “Wallybits”:

    I am pained to read about the effort to impose the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance on the children of the John Stanford school (see Nancy M comment above). Why is it necessary for us to demand obeisance from young kids who can hardly understand what they are reciting? Are we afraid they are likely to turn into little terrorists if they do not pledge – with great regularity, perhaps daily? Apparently we have to get them in line before they can think for themselves.

    Sun, October 23 at 9:46 am
  8. jro said,

    “Alvarez is changing that…”
    “Alvarez’s decision…”
    “she decides…”

    Wow, point fingers much?

    To be fair to Alvarez, there was a message from on high (the District) this school year that stated it was school policy to recite the pledge. Additionally, the policy has the support of the school board. And, it’s the law of the state of Washington.

    Alvarez is implementing the policy per the request from the school District. Why not take the School Board, the District and the State to task for this?

    Sun, October 23 at 10:24 am
  9. Andrea Otanez said,

    Did someone named eM really call Alvarez a wanker? WTH? Alvarez is not a new principal to this community. She has had a positive influence in many students’ lives at Hamilton for years. It looks like the students aren’t the ones who need a lesson in civility and respectful debate. Come out from behind the initials, people.

    You don’t want your kid to say the pledge? Teach him / her how to opt out. Go the classroom the first day and show them what you mean, and why. JSIS has always had an open-door policy. Overall, this flap is a good way to get kids aware of what is theirs (the iconography of this country and culture) to reclaim as their own–or reject. It may take them a few years to get there, but start giving them the means now.

    Sun, October 23 at 11:10 am
  10. ben said,

    I am normally a silent lurker, but with an 8 month old daughter heading into the Seattle School fray, I thought I would add my two cents into the mix.

    I find the whole issue inconsequential. I said the pledge every morning during grade school, and I had little understanding of what it meant. Similar to Doug above, yet Doug was not brainwashed. Nor was I. I think if this is the worst think that is taught on a school day, we will be doing fine. Frankly, spending a view minutes every day to remind people that everyone has a boss and everyone has responsibilities sounds fine to me. The word choice is not what I would choose, but I certainly agree with the underlying sentiment.

    From a political standpoint, I also side with the principal. With the looming state budget cuts, this is not a battle worth fighting. She is wisely saving what little ammunition she has for more important fights.

    Sun, October 23 at 11:35 am
  11. Nancy M said,

    reposted from yesterday on “Wallybits”:
    Pledge of Allegiance
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Official versions
    1892
    “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
    1892 to 1923
    “I pledge allegiance to my flag andto the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
    1923 to 1924
    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
    1924 to 1954
    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,and to the republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
    1954 to Present
    “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God,indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
    The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an oath of loyalty to the federal flag and the Republic of theUnited States of America, originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942. The Pledge has been modified four times since its composition, with the most recent change adding the words “under God” in 1954.

    >>I agree that we bring this to the attention of the School Board and the Governor. If there is to be a pledge, let’s rewrite in for the 21st century and for heaven’s sake get GOD out of it. Religion and nationalism are taught and learned and not what public education is for.<<

    Sun, October 23 at 11:51 am
  12. j said,

    I think a combination of jro’s suggestion, to take it to the school board/state, and allowing the kids to write a pledge that they feel is more in tune with what values we as a community should be pledging would be educational and downright inspiring.

    Ben, I don’t want my daughter going to public school and hearing that god is her boss. That’s what I have her in temple for. And pledges are not inconsequential at all, they’re part of our culture and should be treated with respect and thoughtfulness. What if we all had to pledge allegiance to peace, justice, respect and kindness? Or to the animals and plants of the world? Or to each other as humans? Not to be a big ol’ hippie about it, but the pledge is both meaningful and meaningless to kids – wouldn’t it be great if it was something that they felt connected to every morning? “I pledge allegiance to the chocolate milk and pizza for which I stand…”

    Sun, October 23 at 12:09 pm
  13. impliedobserver said,

    I don’t want my kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but the bigger deal I make of it the more they’ll attach a significance to it. If I say nothing they’ll just find it completely boring as I always did.

    However, this decision does cause me concern about Alvarez. Will she next be talking about the how evolution is a “theory” among other “valid” hypotheses? That would make me very upset.

    Sun, October 23 at 12:17 pm
  14. Haley said,

    Thanks J, the “I Pledge allegiance to the chocolate milk and pizza for which I stand” made me giggle. It’s great that we are starting to talk about this as a community. I’m Haley, the mother who seems to be getting singled out (check the Fox news article which completely targets me and ignores the points that there are many other teachers and parents against the pledge in schools). Since this is a local blog, I’ll at least point out to you all, for the record, that I was misquoted in the article. I stated to the reporter that having to recite the pledge over and over has no educational value for children and does not encourage them to think critically and independently. I did mention that I don’t want to teach my daughter that her loyalty should necessary be to this country first and foremost, but I did not connect that to anything regarding educational value. Also, I definitely did not “cry” as the article says. In a one hour interview, I spent maybe a minute, towards the end, discussing my and my daughter’s past and explaining the ties she has that go well beyond these borders. I got choked up for a brief moment when explaining that my partner, her father, had passed away. I just wanted to clarify that.

    Bottom line, though, this is an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about in the community and I appreciate that people have taken it upon themselves to have their voices heard, to write letters to the principal and to the school board, etc. The pledge may seem like a small issue in light of all the other problems we are facing in this country, but I see it as part of a larger problem and one that contributes to teaching people to engage in blind acts of so-called “patriotism” without really thinking.

    Sun, October 23 at 12:24 pm
  15. j said,

    Oh Haley, when the a-holes start to drive by shouting, you and yours can come to my house. I’m really impressed with your forthrightness and proud to call you a neighbor.

    If we had more people like you and Ryan talking to kids about our country instead of having them recite a meaningless pledge we’d be much better off.

    Sun, October 23 at 12:41 pm
  16. buster g. said,

    All of this discussion has me wondering what is the purpose of a pledge. As far as I can tell the only purpose is to try to inculcate conformity. Are our school kids better citizens than those who were educated before the pledge was adopted? I doubt it. Are our politicians better than they otherwise would be because they are required to take an oath of office? Don’t make me laugh. Is a witness at a trial less likely to commit perjury because he/she had to swear or affirm to tell the truth? Perjury would be crime regardless of what was affirmed.

    I have been hired for dozens of jobs in my life and never once (except maybe when I was drafted into the Army) did I have take a pledge or oath, yet I was never told that my work was unsatisfactory. I know that the only effect on my performance as a result of being required to take a pledge or oath would have been resentment at being treated that way.

    Let’s not mistreat our school children.

    Sun, October 23 at 1:14 pm
  17. C said,

    Haley – sorry that Faux Snews has painted a target on your back and twisted your words around. Typical. Hopefully they don’t post your phone number and address and email as they did when an acquaintance of mine proved that Bill OReilly was lying several years back.
    Thanks for speaking up about this and for explaining your reasoning so well. As an elementary school teacher, I’ve always been uncomfortable with doing the pledge each day for a number of reasons, including the fact that the significance is wasted on the younger children and the “under god” part makes some of my students uncomfortable (not supposed to swear in school, whose god is it?, my mom told me not to talk about god in school, my mom says god doesn’t exist, etc.). In addition, many times our specials are first thing in the morning, so the kids get in, drop their stuff, I take attendance, then we’re lining up for PE. We would be halfway to PE when that came on the loudspeaker, and have to stop in the hallway to do the pledge, then we’re late for PE.
    I can show my patriotism in many ways, but in my mind saying the pledge each and every day does not indicate any higher degree of patriotism than those who wear their flag lapel pins or have the support our troops magnets and profess to be uber-patriots, but never get off their butts to do anything other move their lapel pin from jacket #1 to jacket #2 or move their troops magnet to their latest new car. To me, actions speak louder than the window dressing of saying the pledge or using the flag as a background in campaign signs. I prefer to support the troops by putting together care packages to send or supporting politicians who believe our troops should be paid a living wage and should have functioning equipment and clean water and pass legislation accordingly or by volunteering at the VA or any other place that helps care for the numerous vets coming home that need help rather than putting some magnet on my car. I prefer to show my patriotism by recognizing the faults of my country and working to improve those issues rather than blindly proclaiming superiority no matter what. I would prefer that my students learn to love their country by recognizing what it offers to them, what it means to others, and by understanding how they can take an active part in society to maintain the good parts and improve the not-so-good parts. That takes years of learning and growing and experiencing – not just blindly repeating a pledge each day.

    Sun, October 23 at 1:46 pm
  18. hayduke said,

    “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross.”

    Sun, October 23 at 3:38 pm
  19. kate said,

    Wait.. so it’s not p.c. to recite the pledge? To a country that gives you the ability to attend a great multicultural school for FREE? I understand omitting the ‘God’ part, but the whole thing? Do I sound like a Republican? Well, too bad, cause this is ridiculous.

    Sun, October 23 at 4:23 pm
  20. Chris said,

    Finally, a principal with the backbone to stand up and be counted, regardless of the public humiliation that will come forth. If you can’t pledge your allegiance your allegiance to the US, where you live, work, prosper and raise your family, you should move to the country you can pledge your allegiance to. It’s that simple! Our forefathers wrote this pledge with strong resolve and purpose. I’m not saying “love it or leave it”. I am saying, that if you cannot pronounce your allegiance to this Republic, then move were you can. Go…Now!

    Sun, October 23 at 5:36 pm
  21. Nancy M said,

    How ’bout keeping this in the interesting direction it was going and not bash Republicans or anyone else?

    Sun, October 23 at 5:37 pm
  22. Nancy M said,

    That “backbone” sounds like bullying to me . . .

    Sun, October 23 at 5:38 pm
  23. buster g. said,

    Chris,

    Our forefathers didn’t wake up to the need for a Pledge until 1942, when it was formally adopted by the US Congress. Must have been a major deficiency in patriotism during WW II. The pledge had been written 50 years earlier by a socialist! Imagine that.

    Sun, October 23 at 5:54 pm
  24. Vito said,

    “There’s no escaping the implication that refusal to recite the pledge will be interpreted as disloyalty to the Unites States”

    Don’t think so – who came up with that???

    Nonsense.

    Sun, October 23 at 5:56 pm
  25. Jamie said,

    The real issue is not state law compliance, (and that some may find in uncomfortable to pledge allegiance – it is US soil, right?) but rather, is the “pledge issue” the issue that school leadership should be investing all this time and effort in? Surely, there are more pressing academic issues that merit her time, and everyone else’s for that matter. Stay focused folks. Her wiser tactic would have been to pursue more academically substantive issues first and slip the “pledge” issue in as an administrative change later….

    Sun, October 23 at 5:57 pm
  26. Wallyhood said,

    @Vito (#24): read Chris (#20) to see what I mean.

    Sun, October 23 at 7:45 pm
  27. lubilu said,

    We are British nationals and our daughter is a British national (though she has been living in the US since she was 2 years old). We nearly sent out daughter to John Stanford and I’m now so glad that we didn’t as I would find it really painful to have her be forced to pledge allegiance to a country of which she is not a citizen (and don’t even get me started on the God bit).

    Given its nature, I would expect John Stanford to be more multicultural and more multinational than many other schools and would expect the principal to more accepting and accommodating of other cultures and nationalities. (Oh and saying that six year olds can opt out doesn’t cut it – way to make kids feel even more isolated and ‘different’).

    Sun, October 23 at 7:59 pm
  28. Wallingfordian said,

    Is it really ok for parents to teach their children that some laws should be followed while others can be ignored? Don’t like the law? Opt out or change it.

    Sun, October 23 at 8:01 pm
  29. JSParent said,

    From my perspective, it really isn’t about the Pledge of Allegiance and having to recite it or choosing to opt out. Both sides have valid points and from the discussion, hopefully we will all learn something and appreciate the differences. What I find upsetting is that this is THE ONE thing that our new principal is choosing to make a stand on. From all the things that affect our school, including over-crowding, teacher retention and overall communication, this is how she is choosing to make an impact in our community. Haven’t seen a letter from her to the school community detailing her goals for the school, the students and the teachers, or what she is working towards and how are we going to get there. For a school that is practically doubling in size, with difficult challenges and many limitations, what we need is strong leadership that goes beyond “following the rules”, just because we are adults. We need someone with a vision that can unite the community and lead it to a better place. This does not seem to me like the way to get there.

    Sun, October 23 at 8:02 pm
  30. Wallyhood said,

    @Wallingfordian, as a parent, yes, I plan to teach my child exactly that: there are some circumstances where it is valid and even morally required not to follow the law. You should seek to change it, but ultimately you must be responsible for your own actions and must do right. That’s been called “civil disobedience” and has had massive positive impact on our country. There are many times in history I can point to where I wish more people thought that way.

    Sun, October 23 at 8:34 pm
  31. Polly said,

    Sorry, Vito, but it’s not nonsense. My only child attended John Stanford Intl. School when Karen Kodama was principal in the early 2000’s. The pledge was not recited in class or at assemblies. I did not know then that this was not the norm in the entire district. When my daughter switched to a different elementary school in second grade she came home upset at the beginning of the school year because she did not know the pledge and why had we not taught this to her, etc. Her new school had a different child each week (who had somehow earned the privilege) lead the pledge at the all-school assembly on Monday morning. We explained our family’s objections to the pledge – those have all been eloquently expressed in many of the comments above – but especially our feelings about the reference to god. She was just beginning to understand our family’s Secular Humanistic Judaism and quickly grasped the meaning of the pledge and its history when we explained it to her. We assured her that she could learn it and recite it if she wanted to or she could stay silent while it was being recited if she did not agree with it. As others have said, this is big stuff to understand and decide for a 7 year old kid and no one at her school made any effort to educate the students about that choice. We asked her new principal for an explanation of the difference in practice between the two schools and expressed our distress that our daughter would have to “opt out” of a very public practice and be seen by her new classmates as perhaps disrespectful, uncooperative, or unpatriotic – if not all three. The principal told us that state law required that students be “given the opportunity” to recite the pledge in school and that each school provided that opportunity in its own way. This is different from the quotes attributed to the new John Stanford principal. She appears to be saying that her new rules regarding the pledge are state law. That is not how I understand the law and I would love for someone to find the exact wording of the law to clear that up. Regardless of how John Stanford chooses to provide that opportunity to its students, I believe that it is the RECITERS that should be the opt ins, not the other way around. One only has to revisit the supreme court decisions regarding school prayer to find that there is consensus about the damage done to students who have to “go to another room” or “just not sing along” to christmas carols or just “sit or stand respectfully” without joining in. A few months after our unsatisfying conversation with our daughter’s principal we checked in with her about how the pledge was going for her. She blew us away when she said that she was very quietly reciting Bucky Kat’s pledge of allegiance to the “can of the perfect food which is tuna” from Get Fuzzy. She said no one knew that she wasn’t pledging to the flag. We laughed AND cried over that one! What a sad day when a small child has to resort to mockery (mild and very funny though it was) just to fit in. I say change the damn law so we can stop agonizing over how to comply and respect our children’s rights at the same time. If I start a petition will you sign?

    Sun, October 23 at 8:45 pm
  32. mike draper said,

    The “pledge of allegiance” is indeed anachronistic and should not be required, especially at an “international” school. I has to recite it back in my 1950’s grammar school days. Hated it then, hate it now. Foe a grade-school kid, it’s kind of like a Hitler salute. Means nothing other than group conformity.

    By the way, I too “served my country” for nine years. Helped kill a lot of innocent foreigners. Does that give my opinions more validity?

    Sun, October 23 at 8:58 pm
  33. Floor Pie said,

    At first, I didn’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other. As long as students are allowed to opt out (and they are) it seemed fair to me.

    But now it’s snowballed into the culture wars flavor-of-the-week. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the Pledge is such a hot button issue on both sides, but…really? With all the issues facing our schools in Seattle and beyond, THIS is what gets us all revved up? (Where were the papers when I was fighting for my kid’s IEP last year? Sigh.)

    Haley, I’m so, so sorry you got misquoted and that Fox is being so very Fox about it. Whether we agree with you or not, your neighbors and school community should be proud of you for speaking up for what you believe, popular or not. Very patriotic.

    As for the state law compliance issue, the Save Seattle Schools blog points out some irony there:

    Following State Law and School Board Policy

    Times Picks Up on Pledge Stance at JSIS

    Sun, October 23 at 8:58 pm
  34. Polly said,

    O K – Here it is:
    “The board of directors of every school district shall cause a United States flag being in good condition to be displayed during school hours upon or near every public school plant, except during inclement weather. They shall cause appropriate flag exercises to be held in each classroom at the beginning of the school day, and in every school at the opening of all school assemblies, at which exercises those pupils so desiring shall recite the following salute to the flag: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. Students not reciting the pledge shall maintain a respectful silence. The salute to the flag or the national anthem shall be rendered immediately preceding interschool events when feasible.”
    The way I read this a school could have the flag brought out, placed in its stand and then students could be invited, if they wish, to recite the pledge of allegiance. That’s a big difference from telling everyone to stand and saying “We will now recite the pledge of allegiance” or reading it over the PA system, both of which imply official endorsement for everyone. Imagine how different it would be if students were really taught, in whatever depth they could understand, what the pledge actually means, including the god part and what the implications are for non-believers, children with one foreign-national parent or children whose family’s religion forbids fealty to an object. And then imagine if it was made clear EVERY TIME there were flag exercises that you were invited to recite the pledge if you wanted to. No pressure. No implied right or wrong. That would be fairness and inclusion and anti-bias. I believe that as long as the law stands this is how our schools should address the patriotic exercises that begin the school day.

    Sun, October 23 at 10:57 pm
  35. Sharon said,

    Is this the right time for Congress to update the pledge? I like the liberty and justice for all part, the remainder can be scraped, and add values like inclusiveness, tolerance, peace, community, rule of law…..

    Mon, October 24 at 12:28 am
  36. Sandy said,

    Thank you Doug and Ben!
    When we said the Pledge, it was a time when we could walk to school and not have to worry about being killed on the way. We didn’t have to pass through detectors. We could play on the playground (wow, playground) and not have to worry. Now, 40 years later, with no Pledge, look at what has come of our society. Not only should we have our kids feel some pride and affiliation, but it is time for prayer. Maybe kids will stop plotting to kill one another!!!

    Mon, October 24 at 2:00 am
  37. J said,

    Sandy, huh? Where do you live? Because I haven’t uncovered any kid-killer rings lately. No metal detectors and my kid walks to school with her best friend every morning.

    Please turn off the news and get to know your neighbors. We live in a much more peaceful time than you seem to think.

    Mon, October 24 at 6:13 am
  38. Will said,

    I presume the “debate” that needed to be ended was something like the comments on this page. It would seem to me this is the wrong time to end the discussion when the issue is still so volatile.
    I’m also uncomfortable with the rationale about “following state law.” The conversation is not about whether it is a law, but whether it is a good law.

    Mon, October 24 at 9:20 am
  39. protected static said,

    @Sandy: What color is the sky of the planet you live on? Because what you describe bears no relationship to the school experience of our child at all.

    And ‘time for prayer’? No. Just. No. Asked and answered decades ago, along with the right to opt out of loyalty oaths.

    Mon, October 24 at 9:48 am
  40. DOUG. said,

    Sandy@36: I’m not sure why you thanked me. You and I are 180 degrees apart on this issue.

    Mon, October 24 at 10:02 am
  41. PJ said,

    Of course this becomes a burning issue in Wallyhood and JS School, where affluent helicopter parents with too much free time can make it so!
    You have NO idea how many others are shocked to learn that the Pledge ISN’T part of the morning classroom activities, at least at JS.
    I have been a classroom volunteer(3-4X weekly) for over ten years working with a wonderful teacher. Four years ago while teaching at JS she was called in for a “review”/reprimand by the former princlpal due to a complaint that the Pledge was a daily AM activity. (Everyone had to be respectful but no one REQUIRED to recite anything.) She brought him a copy of the WA state law and the Seattle school policy re the Pledge and that’s when the principal learned about the law. He had to back down with his reprimand and AT THAT TIME it became an option rather than as stated in the Saturday Times article that JS “has traditionally let teachers decide whether or not to do the Pledge.” So “traditionally” for the last three years!
    At the Seattle public school where she’s taught for the last three years the Pledge is a daily classroom activity and part of all school functions. No one is having fits about it; it is a part of the PUBLIC SCHOOLS program. BTW, PUBLIC schools are funded by the Federal, State and City governments.
    Those of you who have so many problems about this (and if this is the biggest problem you face you’re VERY fortunate!) have options: place your child in a private or specialized charter school or homeschool them.
    I’m quite sure that every nation which provides publicly funded schools has the pupils participate in (or be respectful of) a national anthem or pledge.
    Here in America it’s tthe Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Alligiance. I’m sure you stand at the ballgames and maybe even cheer at the conclusion.
    Two weeks ago a family I’ve mentored for the past eight years became citizens of the USA. You can bet they and their children, all public school students, are THRILLED to actually RECITE the Pledge of Alligiance, as well as be tremendously
    respectful!

    Mon, October 24 at 10:22 am
  42. protected static said,

    @PJ: I’m calling shenanigans on the class-baiting. This culture war crap can become an issue in any community, in large part because it goes to deeply-held values on both sides of the issue.

    And I fail to see why opposition to the Pledge should require one to leave public schools – or, in Chris @20’s case, the country (and yes, Chris – that was ‘love it or leave it’ despite your denials). Neither you nor Chris have been able to rationally explain why this should be so.

    Mon, October 24 at 10:40 am
  43. lubilu said,

    Actually I spent my entire school and university career in publicly-funded institutions in the UK and have taught in publicly funded schools in France and never once had to sing the national anthem or recite a pledge (neither country even has a pledge of allegiance). That sort of forced patriotism is very uncommon outside of the US in my experience.

    Though it would have been amusing to see the children of American expats (of which there are many in London) being obliged to pledge allegiance to the British Crown.

    Mon, October 24 at 10:42 am
  44. impliedobserver said,

    As I said earlier, I would rather that my child not have to say the pledge. However, got to point at to lubilu that while pledging to the British crown may not have been commonplace in the UK, my husband is British and he had to say the Lord’s Prayer every day even though he attended public funding schools.

    Mon, October 24 at 11:14 am
  45. Neighbor said,

    @Wallyhood – So you teach your kids to only follow which laws they deem proper? What if I were a professional driver and had a flawless record, can I drive 45 in a 30mph zone? Laws are made by the people for the people. I teach my children to follow the law and encourage them to instead debate and try to change the ones they feel are unjust.

    It’s funny how with all the debate, we all know this LAW will not be changed. Righteous people can take to the web yet can’t make it to vote. Maybe if there was a mini game in FarmVille that let you cast a ballot we’d get more participation in the process. Go 99%!

    Mon, October 24 at 11:25 am
  46. lubilu said,

    And where did I ever say that I agreed that religion should be taught in schools?

    Though interestingly having formal religious education in British schools means that a) most British kids have a working knowledge of both Christianity and other world religions which is useful from a cultural perspective and in promoting genuine religious choice and tolerance (as an atheist I do wonder how to give my child this knowledge in the US) and b) has created one of the most secular and agnostic societies in the world as many kids get bored into agnosticism at a very early age.

    Mon, October 24 at 11:34 am
  47. protected static said,

    @Neighbor: “Righteous people can take to the web yet can’t make it to vote”

    Assumes facts not in evidence. And you know *why* this law is highly unlikely to be changed – it’s too easy to demagogue the issue for any legislator to touch it. It has nothing to do with anyone’s voting or lack thereof.

    Mon, October 24 at 12:01 pm
  48. mike m said,

    What a tempest in a teapot! 40+ years ago our school children had to know and graduate with a great deal more real knowledge than they do now and part of the foundation of education was not just learning the facts of their subjects but also knowing the basis of our unique nation and what it stands for. As we have “progressed” beyond basic civil rights into the era of the ephemeral, the “feel-good” and the PC, that foundation has been eroded (for some reason, because some of the old was bad, our society has decided to throw it all out). Instead of living in a fantasy land where misguided parents wish teachers could float their children off into the world on the cloud of a fool’s paradise, how about this – schools teach what they’re directed and parents supplement that instruction at home with their own belief system?

    Mike

    p.s. Pretty funny that that Nancy M suggested we get God out of school “for heaven’s sake”

    Mon, October 24 at 12:33 pm
  49. Nancy M said,

    : )

    Mon, October 24 at 12:39 pm
  50. Wallyhood said,

    @Neighbor (45): It’s a bit more complex than whether it’s “proper”, and it does take “good judgement”, something I also teach my son.

    I’ll bet you do the same: Have you taught your children (by example), that you must never drive even one mile an hour over the posted speed limit, because it’s illegal?

    As recently as 2000, it was illegal in many states for homosexuals to have sexual relations with each other (and illegal for even marries heterosexuals to engage in non-missionary style acts). Would you have told you children that they must abstain, and counseled all loving couples that they should work to change the law, but until it was changed, they had to abstain?

    How about lunch counters in the pre-1960’s? Would you have thrown blacks out of white areas because it was still against the law (while, of course, working to change the law)?

    My guess is that no, you’re a good person and wouldn’t have done any of the above, and I hope that I would have behaved as well. You would have used your good judgement. The world is a complex place and requires “judgement calls” every day. What we all need to work towards is exercising good judgement in all our acts.

    Mon, October 24 at 12:39 pm
  51. HS said,

    As the parent of two JSIS students my hope for the outcome of this “controversy” is a simple. I hope that, as advocates for an international community, we will use this situation as a learning opportunity. We will teach our children why there is a pledge. Why some people feel so passionately that it should be said, why others feel equally as passionate that it should not, and why others hold no opinion. Why the flag holds such meaning – from its colors to its stars and stripes — and what it stands for, which, at the most simple is this: In many other countries, this debate would not even be possible.

    I hope that we take the time to talk about what other countries, specifically Japan and the Spanish-speaking countries many of our teachers call home, do that is similar in practice, whether that’s a flag ceremony, reciting of a pledge or singing of an anthem. What words did they choose, and why? Do the people of those countries feel as passionately about it as we do? Do those countries welcome debate the same way as the U.S.?

    Even more importantly, I hope we, as parents, community members and adults, realize that the way that we respond to this controversy is also a learning opportunity. Our children will learn from us how to debate…more importantly DISCUSS…issues that they may or may not agree with. If we are stubborn, angry and unwilling to hear both sides, we will raise children who approach conflict the same way. If we are open to discussion, open to other points of view and, most importantly, respectful, our children will do the same.

    We are very privileged to live in Wallingford. We are even more privileged to be able to be part of the JSIS community. Let’s make the most of that privilege to create a positive outcome.

    Mon, October 24 at 12:53 pm
  52. will said,

    good discussion here.

    My child attends JSIS and I find this “culture shift” , as the school principal phrased it in a letter to parents, to impose the pledge of allegiance as absurd.

    The pledge of allegiance is forced patriotism. It is indoctrination. The principal’s decision doesn’t take into consideration the diversity of cultures, values, nationalities of JSIS families and staff. And then there’s the “under God” part…

    Will kids be having to sign an oath of their patriotism next?

    The pledge has no educational value and it’s time for the Superintendent and School Board to take this up and take a stand on this.

    Mon, October 24 at 1:05 pm
  53. David said,

    I’m dumbfounded when people suggest that this is a learning opportunity for kids. Reciting this empty and inane pledge has nothing to do with learning.

    Could saying the pledge lead to a deeper discussion of worthwhile issues? Of course.

    But if that’s the goal I’ve got a good idea – let’s have those discussions during the appropriate class time and subject instead of wasting a couple of minutes every morning in the hope that 1 out of every 200 times it’s recited it might lead to an active discussion of important issues.

    Let’s apply that logic to something else. How about gravity?

    It’s important that kids learn about gravity so in the morning let’s recite a poem about an apple falling from a tree. Nothing actually about physics mind you. But with just enough suggestion that it could, in theory, maybe, lead to a discussion about gravity. And let’s do the exact same poem every morning.

    ‘Cause you know. It’s important that the kids learn about gravity.

    Forcing (or strongly encouraging) kids to recite this mindless pledge is about as anti-intellectual as it gets.

    Mon, October 24 at 1:29 pm
  54. Lisa said,

    I’m with the crowd supporting the pledge minus the god part. It would be nice to instill the idea of patriotism in little kids since it seems so cool to be unpatriotic these days. Hey, the U.S. isn’t perfect (less so in recent years, I agree), but I’m hoping we can get our self-esteem back one of these days and turn back into the good guys again. It would be inestimably helpful to have kids understand the importance of believing in and supporting their country. If your kid is a foreigner or you as the parent have objections, have him or her opt out of the pledge like the Jehovah’s Witnesses kids did when I was little.

    Mon, October 24 at 2:05 pm
  55. JStanford Mom said,

    Hurray for standing up for what you believe in! Each of you. That is supposed to be what this country is all about. Choices. Mine are not yours, yours are not mine. But you don’t get the right to tell MY student that he isn’t allowed to do something that is perfectly within HIS rights to do, and perfectly acceptable to me as his parent. For the record….no one is REQUIRING these students to recite anything. You don’t want your kids to recite it. OK! See…..that’s where the choice part comes in. At least the CHOICE is there for everyone now. Good for Principal Alvarez! She has my full support!!

    Mon, October 24 at 3:54 pm
  56. mama of 3 JSIS kids said,

    Get over yourselves. Principal Alvarez is a leader and she is leading the school so there. I support her 100%.
    My kids are of Mexican origin and proud of their cultural heritage. They know and respect both pledges, both flags.

    Mon, October 24 at 4:20 pm
  57. w said,

    David’s “gravity” argument is dead on. Cultural conservatives are desperate to turn back the clock however they can, and this strikes me as a great example of that trend.

    Mon, October 24 at 4:54 pm
  58. Nancy M said,

    From the Times article: “The pledge will be read over the PA system every Monday . . . ”
    Did that occur today?

    Mon, October 24 at 5:34 pm
  59. Parent said,

    #55 JSM

    You are correct that your kids have the legal right to recite their belief of our country being “under God”, in our public classrooms. What you seem not to understand is that we tax paying, patriotic families who love our country but do not support Theism, do not believe that the law respects the rights of our children to have a public elementary school experience that is free from prayer, and free from daily recitals of “under God”.

    And while for you as a believer, this may seem a non-issue: kids can opt out you say, but for us, forcing them to sit through this daily prayer borders on religious harassment, and is contrary to the principles of liberty we work hard to defend.

    Of course you support Principal Alvarez, her tone-deaf actions are inline with your world view; that my family should have your god in our classroom, and my kids should listen to your Theist views.

    I wonder if you’d be so patriotic as to defend my freedom from your religion as you are willing to praise the actions which force it upon my kids- it appears not.

    Mon, October 24 at 8:25 pm
  60. J said,

    Supporting the pledge does not make you a theist, republican, conservative or any labels that seem to be thrown around. Maybe we support the “with liberty and justice for all” bit and have the wherewithal to ignore the rest.

    I recited the pledge daily through my 13 years of public schooling. When I got to high school, I embraced atheism and stopped saying “under god”. I am not scarred. My child at JSIS won’t be scarred either. I have enough confidence in my parenting to believe that a pledge will not “indoctrinate” him.

    Perhaps it’s not the best use of class time, but we’re talking about a minute out of the day. I guarantee your children will find a way to waste much more time than that each day.

    It’s really not that big of a deal. Honestly, I don’t know how people get through their day if their belief system is so fragile that the pledge can be so disruptive.

    Mon, October 24 at 9:18 pm
  61. a said,

    Nancy M,
    My 3rd grader said that it did not happen this week, but that they are going to start soon. She couldn’t remember anything else about what was said.

    Mon, October 24 at 9:21 pm
  62. a said,

    By the way, Wallyhood, I whole-heartedly agree with your original post.

    Whatever benefit (some of) the children may derive from reciting the Pledge will be outweighed by the damage done to teacher morale and the parent community.

    Of all the laws to worry about enforcing, why choose one that is on such shaky Constitutional ground?

    Mon, October 24 at 9:34 pm
  63. Jacqui said,

    I’m surprised no one has pointed out that this is one more thing that takes away time from actual learning. And before you time yourselves saying it, think back to school: you wait for the announcement, it happens, then time to refocus the class… I want my child’s time in class to be spent learning.

    Mon, October 24 at 10:29 pm
  64. j said,

    @60 (I’ll call myself ‘original j’ from here on in ;-)) The reason why it is a big deal is because this is about values – it’s extremely easy to trivialize something like this as ‘I wasn’t scarred’ or ‘no harm done’ or ‘kids can opt out/find other ways to waste time/not say ‘under god” but really, when something like this hits a nerve and ends up on Fox News, it’s part demagoguery, but part healthy debate over community values. I think that if we are going to have our kids pledging to anything, it should be to those higher values of liberty and justice rather than to a flag. And surely we can get ‘under god’ out of there. I mean, it’s ONLY 2011.

    @46 lubilu – bring in exchange students. we’re jewish(y), but have managed to house atheists, muslims, christians, you name it – great education for all.

    @48, Mike M, your nostalgia is unfounded. 40 years ago you were tracked, girls took home ec and boys took wood or auto shop (hey, it was 1970). these days, kids get a much better, more hands on science education (in communities where science is valued), they learn about world cultures, are required to volunteer in their community. they’re better educated and much more broad-minded. don’t look back, baby, look forward!

    Mon, October 24 at 10:32 pm
  65. mama of 3 JSIS kids said,

    Jacqui, if your main concern is your child’s time learning at school why dont you join me and all the other parent volunteers that help teachers learning happen? You are obviously not someone familiar with the classroom dynamics if you are sooooo overwhelmed with the 60 seconds “wasted” on the pledge.
    Step up to the plate and make learning happen.

    Tue, October 25 at 7:22 am
  66. j said,

    Wow, mama of 3 JSIS kids, way to be dismissive of someone else’s concerns. “get over yourself”, “sooooo overwhelmed”, “obviously not someone familiar with” – perhaps you could take a step back and realize that these comments shut down meaningful dialogue and sorta make you sound like a schoolyard bully.

    also, what would you tell your kids if the two countries whose flags they respect went to war? this is a serious question that gets to the heart of it. You can’t respect two flags, only one. at that point, you’re just picking sides. so by what criteria do you make those choices?

    Tue, October 25 at 8:07 am
  67. Carrie said,

    What’s wrong with a bit of patriotism? If people cared more about their country than their favorite football team, maybe we’d be a whole lot better off.

    Tue, October 25 at 8:10 am
  68. J2 said,

    @60 (I cede “J” to o.j.) The point is that this all IS very trivial. It was trivial before Fox News got wind of this and still is. Don’t let Fox News get your britches in a bunch. That’s basically their modus operandi.

    This will not be the first or last time that god is referenced in these kids’ lives. No matter how secular our little slice of the country is, we are not a secular country. When the kids study classical literature, they will have to understand judeo-christian references.

    We cannot shield these kids from any reference to god and patriotism, nor should we. They need to learn to have a little intestinal fortitude.

    I personally do not care whether there is or isn’t a pledge, but I find the animosity to the idea a bit ridiculous.

    Tue, October 25 at 8:35 am
  69. lubilu said,

    All supporters of the pledge, I’m curious to know what you would do if your jobs took you to another country, say the Philippines (I’m having difficulty finding other countries which have a similar pledge) and your children were asked to pledge allegiance to another flag and country.

    Would you

    a) encourage them to say the pledge – they’re living in another country that has welcomed them after all.
    b) expect them not to say the pledge, even if it meant them standing out as different amongst their peers
    c) Put your kids in an American school where you can pretend they’re not really abroad at all

    Tue, October 25 at 9:32 am
  70. chris said,

    Respect for the flag & the fight for our freedom seems like a pretty honorable thing to teach a child to me. My religion is a little blurry, so I believe the ‘God’ you pledge to is whatever image, belief or faith you hold in your heart when you say it. I know that may not work for everyone.

    Will all these children ‘opting out’, then be people who don’t stand for the star spangled banner, stand for the flag or truly feel united with the community in which they live? That seems like a loss, to me. We all live in the world, but we reach out one person at a time, and that usually works best with the people in closest proximity. And I’m a liberal, but if you take advantage of the benefits of living in this county, you should have some allegiance to it. Nothing is free.

    Tue, October 25 at 9:48 am
  71. McDonald Parent said,

    Just to clarify – I don’t have strong feelings either way – but early on “J” said that the pledge was said at McDonald – I have a 2nd and 4th grader and according to them, they’ve never said the pledge.

    Tue, October 25 at 9:57 am
  72. chris said,

    Yes….I am liberal. Maybe instead of the tuna pledge, the opt outers could say something like this:

    I pledge allegiance to the earth, and promise to always protect it. And to my community with whom I stand, one world filled with love, with liberty and justice for all.

    Tue, October 25 at 9:57 am
  73. a said,

    @Carrie who asked what is wrong with a little patriotism (nothing, obviously): What’s wrong with a little critical thinking? I’ll take that over rote chanting any day!

    If this community were 100% for the pledge (believed in God, that it is a good thing to pledge allegiance to an object, and that there is indeed liberty and justice for all) then it would be a wonderful thing to do. But that is not true of this community, so it is divisive. That is one reason why Ms. Alvarez’ judgement was so very poor in doing this. It simply can’t fit into the place it did when and where we were kids. I can understand your nostalgia, but my kids are also doing fine having no idea who Mike Brady is.

    Tue, October 25 at 10:14 am
  74. Barb said,

    Reciting of the pledge at JSIS did not begin this week. The Monday morning announcement stated that teachers would discuss the pledge this week with their students and that recitation would begin on Monday, October 31. I don’t know if anything has changed since Monday morning. I’m a JSIS parent and just happened to be in the school during the morning announcement.

    Tue, October 25 at 10:23 am
  75. Lisa said,

    lubilu, what an odd question. Clearly, I and my children are American so we would not pledge allegiance to another country or its flag and they would have no problem sitting out the pledge. And, chris, I like your earth pledge :-)

    Tue, October 25 at 10:41 am
  76. Meridian said,

    My feelings go out to the teachers. About half of the teachers at the school teach on the language immersion side. Many of them do not seem like they are originally from the U.S.A. If they do not believe in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, I hope they are strong enough to abstain from saying it. I also hope the kids who would like to say the Pledge of Allegiance are equally strong enough to say it even if their teacher is abstaining.

    Tue, October 25 at 10:50 am
  77. lubilu said,

    Not an odd question at all. There are plenty of commenters on this thread suggesting that those of us who are living and working in the US should feel some allegiance to it and be happy to say the pledge regardless of whether they are US citizens or not.

    And would your kids be as happy to sit out the pledge as you think? My daughter is not a US citizen but has lived the majority of her life here (remember even a 4 year stint abroad is a big part of a child’s life) does feel some allegiance to the US and would have a huge moral dilemma on her hands. I’m not sure that’s good for a 6 year old.

    Tue, October 25 at 10:55 am
  78. Lisa said,

    If you are a U.S. citizen I absolutely believe you should have an allegiance to your country. lubilu, is anyone in your household an American citizen? If so, how do they feel about pledging allegiance to their country? I’m not wild about the “god” part and generally leave that out myself. Are you planning on staying in the U.S. or is this another pit stop for you and your family? It certainly doesn’t seem reasonable to expect a “visitor” to pledge allegiance to the country they’re visiting, but whatever dilemma your child has seems like it could be easily cleared up by letting them know you are only visiting the U.S. and that their allegiance should be to their home country. As one poster said earlier, what would you do if your home country went to war with your host country? That’s my issue with people holding dual citizenship. Seems nigh on impossible to serve two different countries.

    Tue, October 25 at 11:09 am
  79. a said,

    But why pledge allegiance in public, out loud, daily? Do you think this increases one’s allegiance? Is it important to be reminded daily who is willing to pledge allegiance and who isn’t? Can you tell when you are around a minority who isn’t pledging allegiance who isn’t doing it because they don’t have allegiance and who just thinks that a public and daily loyalty oath is a bad idea not at all in the spirit of the Founding Fathers’ rationalism and humanism?

    And if a daily pledge of allegiance is important, have you suggested it at your workplace? Why or why not?

    Tue, October 25 at 11:22 am
  80. will.i.was said,

    Why can’t people serve two countries? We should be able to serve humanity regardless of borders. One of the problems I see with the pledge of allegiance is that it perpetuates nationalistic dogma that pits one against another.

    Pledge to whatever you want, whenever you want but don’t force 5 and 6 year olds to choose between sitting silently or reciting a ridiculously anachronistic chant being broadcasted throughout the school. Welcome back to 1971.

    Tue, October 25 at 11:30 am
  81. lubilu said,

    Lisa, we are British expats, our daughter is six and a British citizen who can’t remember living in the UK and who if asked will say she is an American who was born in England. She does not consider England to be her home country and we can’t force her to do so. However she is a very long way from being a US citizen. We are planning to return to Europe at some point but have no idea when. We are respectful of her ‘Americanness’, for example will sing the anthem with her and don’t complain (much :)) when she supports American sporting teams. We hold 4th July parties. But it would be very painful for us if she were obliged to take the pledge. And, as a child who is already struggling with her national identity, it would be painful for her to opt out.

    I know our situation is an unusual one, and I don’t expect legislation to be written with us in mind. However, in the context of an ‘international’ school like John Stanford I doubt if our situation is that uncommon. I’m sure there are plenty of families there with dual nationality, parents of different nationalities, expat kids, expat teachers, kids who moved to the US when they were babies, kids who moved to the US last week, foreign national parents etc. etc all of whom will have similar moral dilemmas,and this seems to me to be a culturally tone-deaf and insensitive way of dealing with this. As adults some of these questions of dual national identity are difficult enough, for kids they are nigh on impossible.

    We considered JSIS as an option but are fortunate enough to be able to send our daughter to a truly international school, where many, many different nationalities are represented and where these issues are treated with due respect and consideration. But I feel for those parents who aren’t so lucky.

    Tue, October 25 at 11:44 am
  82. mama of 3 JSIS kids said,

    People are way too sensitive nowadays. this teaches kids is to be whinny, insecure, demanding, etc – trust me, I know.
    Pledge allegiance to the contry you live in, because most likely you have chosen to live there.
    Keep it simple.

    Tue, October 25 at 11:48 am
  83. a said,

    I think the status quo we all were happy with was the simple road. Rather we seem to be have led down the Fox News culture war road.

    Mama, I can see that critical thought on this topic makes you uncomfortable, but how can you be sure which side, if any, is whining? I’m not calling your complaints here whining, because I respect your opinion. I do think you could learn something here by taking a moment to listen and think- something I teach my kids every day and I am loving the result.

    Tue, October 25 at 11:56 am
  84. mama said,

    a,
    No uncomfortable at all. Opininated, that’s my middle name.
    And given the lack of diversity in my kids’ school I hesitate to ever referring to it as “international”.
    And yes, we all want to think we are doing great parenting our kids. Good for you.
    Keep it simple.

    Tue, October 25 at 1:22 pm
  85. Jan said,

    I am troubled about the implementation of the pledge of allegiance. First, many of the children at JSIS are not citizens or have family members that are not citizens, and I am sure some are undocumented. (Our daughter has non-citizen family members who are both documented and undocumented.) Asking them to pledge to a “republic…with liberty and justice for all” is asking them to pledge alliance to a “republic” that does not have allegiance back to them. These families, documented and undocumented alike, do not have the same liberty or justice as citizens. If fact, those who are undocumented live in fear of our government. It has been very difficult to explain to my daughter why her uncle spent a year in jail and has been deported six times for the crime of coming to this country when he was a child. How is she to reconcile this with “liberty and justice for all?”

    Second, I see little distinction between the pledge of allegiance and school prayer, though I realize the courts have made this distinction. If fact, I grew up with both recited together. By asking our children to recite and forcing them to hear this at least weekly, the school is imposing an ideology and a form of “worship”, albeit for a flag. By leading this, the principal, who we tell our children is the head of the school, sends a message that the pledge is a norm and expectation.

    Tue, October 25 at 2:34 pm
  86. iyqtoo said,

    Wow, is this indigenous to this area or what? From all indications, JSIS students will be offered the opportunity to say a pledge to the US flag each morning. If they choose not to participate along with the group for whatever reason, they’re free to abstain and behave respectfully for a minute or so until it’s over. Surely that isn’t a bad thing to be teaching kids? It’s a skill they’ll use many times throughout their lives.

    This being a free country of huge diversity, it would be nice to hope they could exercise their preference without anybody jumping to conclusions about them, their mental capacity, their beliefs or their family. Even in Wallingford.

    Tue, October 25 at 3:20 pm
  87. Marlin said,

    I pledge allegiance to the earth and all its natural systems. Interdependence is what I seek, on one planet, with one people, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    I spoke with Alvarez Monday for fifteen minutes. She politely gave me her ear, but isn’t going to budge. I asked her if she was following any mandate from above to re-institute the pledge, shel said no, it was her decision.
    The conversion was respectful.
    I am against it for many reasons.
    If you are too. Some parents are meeting at my house to discuss options this Sunday ten am until noon. You are invited!
    Contact me at [email protected] for my address.
    I look forward to meeting you. Thanx
    Marlin

    Tue, October 25 at 3:44 pm
  88. Uncle Sam said,

    If y’all don’t love ‘Merica you can get out!

    Tue, October 25 at 3:51 pm
  89. eM said,

    see? wanker.
    yes #9, I did.

    It gets my point across succinctly, I think. And with a bit of levity.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanker

    I think it’s silly to enforce this rule. I think children should be taught to think about rules critically and not blindly follow them. If that is too hard for your child or conflicts with your parenting philosophy, let them say it – I mumbled that thing countless times way back in the deep dark 1970’s and it really did not matter to me. My brother was in the Vietnam war then and I did not understand how I could be proud of a country that would send him away. My parents told me I should feel proud of him, and that didn’t make sense to my 8 year old mind either. Mumble mumble mumble. Silly grown ups. The interminable prayers I was subjected to as a catholic school student didn’t matter to me either: mumble mumble mumble. That, as they say, is an entirely different kettle of fish.
    I wonder as to Alvarez’s motive here. Surely she knew there would be a bit of a push back. How’s that saying? “Not a team player”.

    Tue, October 25 at 4:06 pm
  90. Lisa said,

    Well, Jan, you’re in a particularly tough situation. When you pledge allegiance to a country, you are also pledging to follow its laws. You have relatives from a foreign country who choose not to follow our laws. So, yes, how do you explain to your child that your relatives are criminals? Tough. It would certainly be easier if they would choose to be law-abiding; easier on my country and easier on having to explain unpleasantries to your child.

    Tue, October 25 at 5:05 pm
  91. Jan said,

    Lisa, this is my country as well. My point was that I don’t believe there is liberty and justice for all. Immigrants are one group, but there are other groups as well. The point I made about my child’s uncle is that he came as a child, with his parents and without his consent. He grew up here, married an American and had American children, yet he is not allowed to live here for the crime of being here as a child.

    Tue, October 25 at 5:37 pm
  92. eM said,

    yes Jan – it must be so unpleasant explaining economic injustice and racism to your child. Golly, that’s right up there with trying to explain ignorant privileged Americans who think their great fortune is a result of hard work and not a circumstance of birth. Good Luck to you.

    Tue, October 25 at 5:38 pm
  93. db said,

    i remember very well doing this in grade school – and hating to do it all along. really, what’s the use? i can’t be alone in thinking of this as being a pointless exercise when i was younger.

    Tue, October 25 at 5:43 pm
  94. yo mera said,

    Wow! Immigration – illegal immigration, what a touchy subject. Hard to deal with it, and easy to make excuses.
    The point is, if you choose to live in a certain country you must abide its law. If you do not wish to do so you might have the choice to leave – or not. For example, millions of Mexican nationals cannot go back because of the terrible economy caused by imperialism meaning the USA. So illegal immigration should be blamed on the USA.
    See how easy it is?
    Jan, did Illegal Uncle apply for a fiance visa or leave the country he entered illegally and tried to apply for a visa so he could get in legally and then marry? Did he try to get a legal status through his parents? Did his parents ever apply to adjust their status? Or maybe this is just another case of ‘blame the US government?
    I am an American citizen, I went through what the law dictated for me to become a citizen. I pay my taxes and I actually create employment for at least FIVE other American Citizens. I never made excuses. I worked hard to make it happen.
    Now I do not have to explain to my kids how hard it is to be an illegal immigrant because I chose not to be one.

    Tue, October 25 at 6:49 pm
  95. Jacqui said,

    Mama of JS Kids: well, as you called me out, permit me to correct you. I’ve been in my son’s classroom/school every year since Kindegarten. I worked in the school library shelving books this am and will be teaching a theater class next week.

    I must say, if you are representative of JSIS parents, I’m rather happy my son wound up somewhere else. While I don’t always agree with the other parents at our school, we are always respectful of each other.

    Tue, October 25 at 7:45 pm
  96. RBH said,

    Pledging allegiance to the republic does not mean you don’t believe in global community. I don’t get that argument. Do you like being able to vote? Do you like having access to public school? Voicing your opinion? Freedom of speech? Women’s rights? There are SO many policies and things that I *don’t* agree with in America…for example, I am disgusted by the wars we’re involved in…but to borrow a quote from Clinton, “There is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with what is right in America.”….the Pledge *is* and should be inspiring and what is wrong with inspiring our children to be a better generation? To remember what is great about this country? The economy is bad all over–not just here in the US….instilling values is not the same as indoctrinating. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY THE PLEDGE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO….that’s the beauty of America!! As a parent of a duel-citizen student at JSIS, I support the principal and think she set this up with so many accommodations for people to participate/not…this whole debate seems ridiculous. When we send our globally-minded children out as citizens of the world, wouldn’t it be nice if they knew a bit of their own history and had some answers about their country when they encounter people from other places who will, undoubtedly, be as curious about them as they are about the rest of the world? We can’t just pick and choose the aspects that we like about being American and then throwing out the rest. During the Civil Rights movement–did MLK turn his back on what must have seemed impossible? No—he used his Dream of what America could be to inspire us. When Obama was growing up without any examples of black leaders, did he give up or did he take his dreams and turn them into a reality? By turning your back on America during this hard time, what are you teaching your kids? I think this is the perfect time to remind our children that each of them has rights. And each of them is entitled to the promise of what this country can be and hopefully some of them will be inspired to strengthen it. Instil values at home for the kind of country you want, teach them how to resolve conflicts peacefully, teach them to build dreams upon the ideals of America and don’t ignore the fact that you have all of the freedoms you do (including this open forum) because a lot of people before you believed that things could be better.

    Tue, October 25 at 8:30 pm
  97. a said,

    I love David’s post- #53, and think it is the perfect retort to RBH just above. And why in the world after reading this thread would you equate not wanting to chant the pledge with turning one’s back on the U.S.? I think the ultimate patriotism is one that is rational, critical and guided by principle.

    Tue, October 25 at 9:18 pm
  98. will.i.was said,

    RBH- I’m not sure what the MLK argument is but my interpretation of his legacy is based on his struggle to fight injustice both in the US and abroad. MLK spoke out against the Vietnam War and referred to the US government as the greatest perpetrator of violence in the world. That sentiment remains alive today with the occupation of foreign lands by this US military. He inspired me to work toward social justice. MLK was a revolutionary who stood behind working and poor peoples and challenged authority when justice was at stake. He was critical of the status quo when the status quo continued to perpetuate injustice.

    The Pledge is not inspiring to me. It’s empty and attempts to make those who recite it believe that there is justice for all in this country when that is not true. It would be more true if it said “…and justice for some”.

    I support learning the history of the pledge but school-wide broadcasts is out of control. What is the value of reciting the pledge of allegiance in schools? I would like an honest answer from the principal of JSIS. Is it to make kids more patriotic?

    Wed, October 26 at 8:15 am
  99. David said,

    I agree with what RBH is saying. It’s great for the kids to learn about their history and culture. I just don’t get how this empty and inane pledge does that.

    As I said above – could thoughtlessly reciting it (like 99% of the kids will do 99% of the time) lead to a conversation about this country’s history, culture, traditions, conflicts? Yes. But this seems an absurd way to get there. Why not just have those conversations to begin with and not pressure and coerce our kids to say this silly pledge.

    You could make kids repeat Einstein’s theory of relativity every morning and no real learning would occur. How could kids possibly learn anything from these empty words?

    For me, mindlessly reciting a government mandated pledge has all the hallmarks of the world’s worst totalitarian regimes.

    Actually, maybe that’s the answer!

    Let’s install flickering fluorescent lighting, turn the heat off, make them wear matching uniforms, and get the kids to stand in perfectly straight lines every morning and recite this pledge.

    To keep things interesting we could have them run in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions in the play yard on alternating days during “personal growth time”.

    It seams like a great history lesson on what this country has always stood against.

    Unthinking conformity is bad. Let’s not encourage it in our kids.

    Wed, October 26 at 11:38 am
  100. JKY said,

    Many have argued that instituting the Pledge is OK, because it is “optional” –teacher/student can “opt out” of having to say the Pledge. However, those teachers and students who “opt out” of saying the Pledge, still have to sit or stand “respectfully” and listen to, they cannot “opt out” of being free of having it drilled into their minds on a daily basis. Principal Alvarez said that for the students who wish to say the Pledge she would like to “give the opportunity” to them to do so. I say wonderful, how about, invite all the students, who would like to say the Pledge to the Gym, prior to the begining of the morning classes and “give them the opportunity” to say the Pledge, then head over to their morning classrooms.

    Also, I agree with so many who already pointed out, that blindly following a law, without critically thinking whether the law is a good one or a just one is not teaching our children to think indipendently and critically. It’s not that I would encourage my children to be unlawful, but I belive that it is important that they develop critical thinking skills about the rules that they are presented with rather than obay rules blindly, because they are told to do so.

    In this case, the State Law in regards to the Pledge, gives teachers/students the option to “opt out” of having to say the Pledge. Princiapal Alvarez, said that she believes that it is important that we as adults follow the rules. But if we think critically for a moment about this particular Law, where opting out is written into the Law, would we as adults be breaking the rules or teaching our children to break the rules if we didn’t enforce it? Isn’t it more confusing to say to our children; that although it’s the law you can “opt out” of doing it if you want? Can you imagine saying that, although the speed liming is 30MPH you can “opt out” and drive at whatever speed limit you choose?

    Wed, October 26 at 1:18 pm
  101. Jan said,

    JKY has an interesting suggestion. Why not have those who want to do the pledge “opt in” rather than making those who don’t want to do it “opt out”. Principal Alvarez can gather the children whose parents want them to do this in the lunch room or gym before school to say the pledge. This would be a compromise that would meet the state law requirement. Nevertheless, I don’t think that minors should be reciting an oath, which is the same as a pledge.

    Wed, October 26 at 3:09 pm
  102. Nancy M said,

    Flag Club!

    Wed, October 26 at 3:33 pm
  103. a said,

    I´ve thought about that same possibility Jan and Nancy. It would be nice to find a way to meet the law and please pledge fans and pledge critics. With creative thinking, I think we could do it.

    Wed, October 26 at 8:58 pm
  104. David said,

    JKY and Jan. That is an awesome idea!

    If parents are so big on their kids being exposed to the pledge then let their kids miss class time and interrupt their regular morning (lunch time or afternoon) routine.

    Someone should forward this to her. (I would, but she seems to have stopped replying to my emails.)

    Wed, October 26 at 9:21 pm
  105. JSIS Mama said,

    She’s not budging. She doesn’t have to. Apparently the majority of parents at JSIS either support her decision or don’t have an opinion in either direction. The parents who don’t want the pledge seem to be in the minority, though certainly are more vocal about their opinions.

    Thu, October 27 at 11:24 am
  106. yo mera said,

    I am glad she is not budging. She shouldnt. I rather have a school leader that stands by her decisions.
    I am curious to know why she went as far as notifying us parents regarding a common practice in public schools. My kids former school pledged alliance to the flag regularly. Nothing wrong with that IMHO

    Thu, October 27 at 12:10 pm
  107. buster g. said,

    It’s my understanding the Pledge recitation will not begin at JSIS on Oct. 31. Perhaps all of this to-do is just the Principal’s trick suitable for that date.

    Thu, October 27 at 1:22 pm
  108. Parent said,

    My 1st grader said that they did, in fact, recite the pledge this past Monday. He chose to opt out. I would have supported his decision either way. His teacher told the class that they would be doing so every week and that they all had the choice to opt out if they so desired. He said it was explained to them fairly clearly, so I’m pretty sure this is not a Halloween prank…..

    Thu, October 27 at 1:36 pm
  109. yo mera said,

    A lot of problems in this society are deeply rooted in giving too many choices to young children.
    By the time they become teenagers they are sick and tired of all the “choices” they were given early on and feel like they need to take control and do not want to listen to their parents and think their parents suck. Trust me, I know.
    Teachers should not give children that can barely write their names and wipe their bottoms the choice to “opt out” a school mandated, principal approved activity.

    Thu, October 27 at 1:48 pm
  110. JKY said,

    yo mera, just as a clarification, the choice to “opt out” is written into the law and under such Federal Law, all students and teachers, have the right to participate or not participate as they choose. It is an individual choice provided by the law not a choice provided by the Teachers as you mistakenly assume.

    Thu, October 27 at 2:10 pm
  111. yo mera said,

    A six year old – as smart as we want to think our children are- do not have the knowledge to understand Federal Law and other big words.
    Opt out in this case means to them to do what the school community is doing or not doing it at all. Can they opt out from doing homework as well? How about speaking quietly in the library? eating lunch in the designated areas?
    Kids need direction, instruction, and yes, lots of love and room to grow.

    Thu, October 27 at 2:42 pm
  112. protected static said,

    What’s with this “Trust me, I know” nonsense? The IP addresses for “yo mera” and “JSIS mama” wouldn’t happen to be the same, would they?

    Thu, October 27 at 2:50 pm
  113. DOUG. said,

    yo mera: The only thing that makes the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools even vaguely Constitutional is the ability to opt-out of reciting it. Your metaphor is inapplicable. Homework and the other things you mentioned are not written into the First Amendment, the establishment of a universal religion (i.e. “under God”) is.

    Thu, October 27 at 2:56 pm
  114. JSIS Mama said,

    Nope! Not the same! My child is in 1st Grade as well and…to clarify… they did not recite the pledge. The teacher read the pledge, they talked about it, discussed how to be respectful of everyone’s choices and make everyone feel safe and basically prepared for next Monday. And for the record….my son will opt out. He is quite aware of what’s going on and why it is his choice to opt in or out!

    Thu, October 27 at 3:33 pm
  115. JKY said,

    As an immigrant myself, coming from a contry that didn’t value individual freedoms, reading the comments such as the ones from yo mera and similar, reminds me too much of the kind of opressive government that my family and I fled from.

    I wonder if the folks who are so pro Pledge, really care about the Pledge and what it truly stands for or care more about enforcing their personal beliefs onto others.

    Choice is Freedom, if your children choose to say the Pledge they should be free to say it or if you as a parent decide to take that choice away from your children, that is your choice as well. My children and I chose to have a discussion about it, they asked really great questions, we listened to each other and respected each other’s points of view. My children will decide for themselves what is right for them, that is their choice and how lucky are they to live in a country that gives them that choice.

    My only problem as I had mentioned before is that, for those teachers and students who choose to opt out of saying the pledge or part of the pledge, they cannot opt out of being present during the pledge.

    That is why I had suggested to give folks with strong convictions about reciting the pledge a way to do so, while not imposing it on those who choose not to; by simply meeting a few minutes prior to star of the morning classes to recite the pledge. In my view that seems like a reasonable solution and a just one for all.

    Thu, October 27 at 4:08 pm
  116. PJ said,

    Just arrived home from volunteering at a Seattle public elementary school just as or even more “diversified” as JS. The Pledge has been used every day for years without the wringing of hands and fits from the parents.
    I’m fascinated by all these postings day after day during typical “working” hours. Are any of you employed? If so, you must be doing all this on company time, which, I believe, is essentially stealing from your employer. If not employed, you have WAY too much time on your hands (fingers!) and really should find something/anything more constructive to do., especially NOT having a meeting!!!
    Try volunteering on a regular basis at a public school, particularly a different one than JS to get a “bigger picture” and discover that JS is not all that different and special. Most of all get over it and MOVE ON!
    Have you heard that Metro is planning on dropping the #26 Bus Route? You know, mass transportation vs. more cars? Take this one on and you can make a positive difference!!

    Thu, October 27 at 4:31 pm
  117. a said,

    PJ, I would be much more impressed with a principled argument. That fact that the pledge seems to have this power to shut down thoughtful, respectful and compassionate conversation among its proponents has actually strengthened my opinion against it.

    It is obvious to me that a thread following an article about the Pledge of Allegiance is going to be about the merits and faults of the Pledge of Allegiance. N’est-ce pas?

    Thu, October 27 at 5:55 pm
  118. PJ said,

    a…. This “thread” covers much more than merits and faults of the Pledge, if you would read through it all. Yes, a tiresome task. And a …you prove my point….WAY TOO MUCH time on your hands and you must beliieve you’ve nothing better to do!

    I’m soooo done…stick a fork in it….it’s OVER!

    Thu, October 27 at 6:32 pm
  119. a said,

    PJ, (I am quite sure you are taking a bit of your time to look back at this thread- you are human after all) is it new for you to tell people angrily to stop talking about what they are talking about? Is it common for you to resort to an ad hominem argument rather than to take the issue itself on? Or is it something special about the pledge that is bringing this out in you?

    I have indeed read through all of it, and I find it really interesting. That’s why I’m still here.

    Thu, October 27 at 7:00 pm
  120. Mark said,

    Frankly all of you opposed to the Pledge should pack up and move to Canada. The blatant disrespect that you show to our country is disgusting. Yes things may not be great in our country but I would rather be here than anywhere else. Nationalism is a good thing. We need to ban together to help get our great country back on track. The Pledge reaffirms this for us everyday. Your actions only make the situation worse. We need more Patriots not less.

    Fri, October 28 at 10:07 am
  121. protected static said,

    So glad you could contribute constructively to the conversation, Mark.

    Fri, October 28 at 11:31 am
  122. JKY said,

    How sad, un-American, and unconstructive the comments “pack up and move to Canada” truly are? On the one hand, you are passionately defending the Pledge, the very one that speaks of “liberty” (freedom) and “justice for all” while at the same time, telling your neighbors and their children (who go to school with your children) to “pack up and leave” simply because they have a different point of you and are speaking out about it.
    There is no need to confuse the two issues: a daily recital of The Pledge is not the same as showing respect to a country. If saying the Pledge is important to you, I respect that, but please don’t forget about the rest of the world that America is a part of. You can hardly believe that what happens in the rest of the globe, whether economically, environmentally, socially, medically, etc does not directly affect America and its people.
    John Stanford International School embraces (at least I thought it did) all its students, families, and teachers regardless of their nationality. It is a school with a view on global education; to teach, accept, and celebrate diversity and tolerance for other cultures, religions, nationalities.
    Pledging Allegiance to one Flag in today’s global world, where all of us (internationally speaking) are critically interdependent on one another for prosperity and peace, seems short-sighted indeed.

    Fri, October 28 at 1:15 pm
  123. YupAnotherParent said,

    Interestingly enough, the action by this principal has divided the faculty, staff, parents, and from these posts, the community at large. I’ve got to wonder what possible pedagogical reasoning she had with this one. As earlier mentioned, this was her decision to act on this…

    Sat, October 29 at 12:30 am
  124. Marlin said,

    Come on folks. This country was founded on genocide, colonialism and slavery. We the people never meant blacks, first nation peoples, or even women. Today our country perpetuates war and strife all over the world. Democracy is only for the few who can afford it.
    The pledge perpetuates more uncritical, unthinking obedience and blind patriotism. The hell if I want my kid indoctrinated into this abject mind-waste.
    I seek a world without borders, where all peoples needs are met. Unfortunately to bring that about will take time, organizing and revolution.
    That is what I am teaching my kid.

    Sun, October 30 at 1:11 am

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