Should Students be Required to Say the Pledge?
This article was written by Adam Hatch - UC Berkeley graduate, son of a teacher, brother of a teacher, and a teacher himself.
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India Landry - Student at Windfern High School
Two Texas high school students are suing their school for demanding they recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The girls allege they were harassed and inappropriately disciplined.
The students opted to remain seated during the Pledge to protest injustice. One student, identified as “M. O.” in court filings, had been sitting since 2014, but says harassment reached its pinnacle this year.
Another student was expelled from school for refusing to stand for the Pledge.
“They were making rude comments saying, ‘This isn’t the NFL, you won’t do this here',” 17 year old student India Landry said of her teachers.
High school students protesting the Pledge mirrors the national debate surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
Most Texans kneel during anthem after owner's "inmates running the prison" comments https://t.co/It1qZKm3TI pic.twitter.com/qCrmIHdGKI— Bloomberg (@business) October 29, 2017
While critics claim sports events and schools aren’t the appropriate forum for protesting, supporters say it's a matter of free speech and not supposed to be done in a way to make people comfortable.
Protests of the Pledge and the National Anthem are not isolated events and are occurring around the country.
Clemson’s Student VP Impeached For Sitting During Pledge in Support of Kaepernick https://t.co/l1gSEbMxRX via @CurlsAndSports pic.twitter.com/H2m1unCpJH— Robert Littal (@BSO) October 27, 2017
All of these protests beg the question - should students be allowed to protest in school, during class, or should they be required to recite the Pledge as their classmates do?
On one hand, it’s a public and school-wide activity and critics of protestors claim it’s an attention-grab and a distraction from the day-to-day business of education and learning.
On the other hand, supporters of the protesters claim that because schools are public, students have a right to free speech and should be allowed to voice their opinions.
What do you think? Should students keep their protests to themselves until the bell rings at the end of the day, or should they be allowed to opt out of the Pledge?
It doesn’t matter what I think since the Supreme Court has already said that students have a right to not be compelled to recite the Pledge or stand for it. It doesn’t matter what the student’s reason for not standing / reciting it is, they have a protected right to not participate. My personal feelings or administration’s feelings about it are irrelevant. It’s no different than insisting students recite a prayer that the adults agree on. Patriotism is a belief system, and students can not and should not be compelled to believe in something in which they don’t agree.
I teach fourth grade and after all the recent controversy I had one student here and there that did not stand, then that grew to a few on any given day. For them it is not a protest for an injustice but rather just laziness or defiance. I asked them in private why they did not stand and the only answers I received were along the lines of: “I don’t know,” “because the football players aren’t,” and “I don’t have to.” No mention of an actual reason that is symbolic of a greater cause. I heavily believe in freedom of speech and the right to protest, however unless they give me a legitimate reason I firmly ask that they stand. (I do not require that they actually recite it, just that they do stand with the rest of the class.)
No, it isn’t appropriate to force any child to say the pledge. My son’s TK teacher took away choice time because he didn’t want to recite the pledge. He can’t even say the words because he has speech issues.
Already Answered, Tinker, Barnette
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