Friday, September 14, 2007

Pledge

Our new principal has revived a tradition at the high school level that hasn't been a morning ritual since I've been here; the singing of the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. The singing isn't an every day thing, some days are attached to a patriotic quote or a small tidbit of patriotic information that is important to this country's history. But once or twice a week, classes are supposed to stand and salute the flag (a salute could simple be standing) to pay homage to the values that this country stands for.

One teacher came to me and said that in Northern California, the Pledge of Allegiance has become a symbol of ignorance, and that was a tragedy. I'm inclined to agree with him. However, as a Government teacher, I was put in an interesting position when asked by my students "What are my rights regarding the Pledge?" Part of my interest in teaching Government is ability to tell kids what their rights are, and also to make sure that they understand that having "rights" doesn't always make that decision correct. My answer to the students was that they were under no obligation to do anything during the Pledge but sit quietly and not disturb others. Then I attached the precedent court case to the issue, and then I explained that I would stand and face the flag because I wanted to give a small "thank you" to the country that gave me the opportunity to succeed in what I wanted to do in life. It was also my moment to show respect to those that fought and died, regardless of which politician sent them to battle, for the values of this country. Although I don't give political opinions, I'm not hesitant in the slightest to tell students that they are fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world. Then I tell them that its up to them to keep it that way.

During the two actual Pledge's during the first week, 0 out of 34 students stood. This drew the ire of some teachers that felt that I was giving off an atmosphere that was subtly anti-American. This is absolutely untrue of course. I think that students being able to make a choice that's legally theirs is very American, and by the way, I'm modeling saluting the flag.

This week about 25% of the kids stood for the Pledge.


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