When I was a child in school in the deep South, they required us to recite the pledge, along with the Lord’s Prayer, every morning. Surprisingly, they didn’t include the prayer in the morning ritual in Junior-High or High School when I moved back to Texas. Now that I am a teacher, I have always encouraged the pledge in my Social Studies classes, and required students to stand, but was met by quite a bit of resistance trying to get students to actually say it (and always told not to make it an issue by every Administrator I ever worked for). Then again, I was teaching Alaskan natives.
However, call me old-fashioned or culturally insensitive, but I think it is important for all children receiving a free education, in a nice warm and well-lighted multimillion dollar “free school” out in rural Alaska, who receives free and reduced lunches daily, free books, paper and supplies, free sports uniforms, free flights, free ferry rides, or free busing across the district/state to games, the Prom, etc., free tuition, free health care, free housing, and free money from the state for just being “Native” to actually have to pledge their allegiance to the country whose tax payers are paying for all of those “freebies.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand they or their parents may be resentful at the progeny of the “White Man” or the Federal or State government for taking their lands, causing wide-spread disease, and for the ethnic genocide committed against their people that caused them to become a conquered people, but in the modern era, I think we should call the pledge of allegiance the ticket for admission into the “free school” that is the heart of many towns in rural Alaska. Every child across the nation, regardless of their cultural background, should be required to recite the pledge of allegiance every morning to receive Federal or State services. Despite previous Supreme Court rulings, they should not be able to exercise Freedom of Speech rights that cause a school disturbance and disruption, by refusing to recite the pledge, or to remain seated, after they’ve already likely received a free or reduced-price breakfast from a government program they are refusing to pledge their allegiance too.
We have rights, and we have responsibilities, and you can’t have one without the other. To refuse to recite the pledge of allegiance is one of the most disrespectful acts a student could commit against his/her school, country, and government. I am not happy about my government right now either, but I still believe the pledge should be mandatory for all public school students receiving a “free education.”
In the Philippines, where I am currently on vacation, no matter how poor you are, if you want your kid to go to school, you pay for tuition, books, and the uniform, and you and they come up to the school and clean their classroom, and the school grounds, and you attend parent meetings, or they fine you for your absence! I can’t say the same about any of the American schools or communities I’ve worked in. We have grown accustomed in our nation of having everything either given to us, or taken from us, and that dynamic does a disservice to those forced to give by their government, and to those receiving (who become dependent on handouts). If you live in America, you should be required to pledge your allegiance to America when you come to school. If you do not recognize America as having any authority over you, then you should not accept nor be allowed to benefit from taxpayer funded programs, and services.
Don’t get me wrong, many patriotic Natives (and other “minority” groups in America) have faithfully served their country in times of war, by joining the military, and in countless other ways. But a few “bad apples” with bad attitudes, who wish to disrupt the learning process, should not be able to get away with disrespecting their school, their country, or their teachers every morning before the class lesson begins. For when a blind-eye gets turned to these types of civil disobedience in the classroom, then the first lesson of the day is theirs, not the teachers, and it is a lesson that is destructive to the learning process, to a student’s character, and to the stability of our nation.