The 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)