(*Updated to add state law and link to principal letter to school community)
The time honored tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is sparking a new controversy at Seattle’s John Stanford International School.
The school had not previously recited the pledge of allegiance as part of normal school procedure, in violation of state law:
United States flag – Procurement, display, exercises – National anthem.
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.
But it turns out there is widespread opposition to the pledge by some teachers and families. One parent sent an email to other parents, complaining about the pledge. She writes that many of the students are the children of foreigners or undocumented citizens, so “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 consider them or their families equal before the law.”
She goes on to complain the school is improperly “imposing an ideology and form of worship, albeit for a flag.” She suggests the pledge should only be taught in history class.
But many other parents, including listener Alaina, say they’re really tired of the “overly PC” attitude at the school, especially considering no student is required to recite the pledge.
“Why are we going overboard in political correctness and trying to accommodate people that are undocumented? It makes absolutely no sense to me,” Alaina told the Dori Monson Show
And Alaina says she and her husband were demonized when they expressed those sentiments.
“We were accused of dehumanizing people by saying they were not legal citizens and being reprehensible and all these other things that we’ve been called.”
“How does a factual statement dehumanize somebody?” asked Dori.
Alaina says it got nastier from there.
New principal Jesely Alvarez issued a letter last week to the school community detailing the lengthy process she went through to reach an amicable agreement, writing that she has instituted a policy of reciting the pledge over the PA system during Monday morning announcements and at assemblies.
“After a month of processing how we will implement the Pledge of Allegiance, it is time for us as a staff to move forward. I know that staff and/or families may or may not be satisfied with this cultural shift, but I stand by my decision to provide the Pledge of Allegiance to our students. It is our responsibility as a public school to provide access to this for our students while providing the option for students and families to not participate by being respectfully silent,” she writes.
A Seattle School District spokeswoman tells me the district doesn’t have the resources to check with every school to make sure it is following the law, but when made aware works with the principal to ensure that the policies and laws are being followed.
-Josh Kerns/97.3 KIRO