Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reinforced. They don't have to stand.

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Last year, our new principal made an effort to announce the Pledge of Allegiance at least twice a week, and continued to do a variety of patriotic observances on the other days.  It made quite a little stir and then calmed down as the year wore on.  As I explained before, I don't force the kids to stand and explain the constitutional precedent behind the issue.  During the year about a third of the kids stood and recited the Pledge.

Over the last couple of days a teacher on the AP Gov List Serve asked what teacher's did in regards to the daily patriotic observance and the responses came rushing down the e-mail like mad.  Most seemed to follow my method of teaching the kids about the constitutionality of the issue while explaining the value of our civic structure, but there was a healthy amount of teachers that insisted that kids be made to at least stand during the Pledge.  Some stated that their districts and state law required it.

Well, once again the federal court system has told them that they are flat out wrong.  Last week the 11th District Court of Appeals won a case against the State of Florida that stated that students are not required to stand to observe the Pledge.  Apparently the district required a parent note saying that the student was allowed to opt out of the exercise, but barring that note, students had to show their respects by getting their rear ends out of the chair.  The court ruled that unconstitutional, and that the student had the right to opt out if they chose to do so.  The case is Fazier vs. Winn. 

Another interesting part of this case was the angle of the parent vs. the student.  What if the parent asked that the student opt out and the student didn't want to, or vice versa?  It seems to me that the court stated that the school has an obligation to see to it that the parents wishes are to be followed regardless of the child's wishes.  I'm interested to see how this would work in a 12th grade classroom, although it looks like it is more aimed at elementary school levels.

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