Maine School Objects to Telling the Truth

Hemant has the story of a public high school in Maine where student leaders were introducing the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by telling students that they should recite the pledge if they want. The school put a stop to that and now a “compromise” has been reached.

For more than a month now, there’s been controversy at South Portland High School in Maine over how they announce the Pledge of Allegiance. Three student body leaders, while reading the morning announcements, were reminding their classmates that they didn’t have to participate by asking students to recite the Pledge “if you’d like to.”

At the time, the principal put a stop to it because, he said, it was going against protocol, but the students (with the principal’s support) went to the school board to request a revision to the policy.

So here’s the revision:

Caron said senior class President Lily SanGiovanni would likely adopt the new pledge procedure Thursday morning, when she would say over the intercom, “I now invite you to rise and join me for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Let me ask the obvious question: Why is the school so opposed to telling the truth? Students do have the constitutionally protected right to not stand for or recite the pledge of allegiance. That was decided more than 70 years ago. So why is it a bad thing to inform them of that? Because you think more kids might exercise that right? Is that seriously what the principal of a public high school ought to be doing?

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John Pieret

    But … but … how do we know they are good god-fearing, freedom-loving Americans unless they do as they’re told?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Don’t rise and don’t say it, and when they call you unpatriotic, show them what you were doing with your time: drawing an American flag made of bald eagles! Then crack of lightning, wicked guitar solo, jump out the window and drive off in your muscle car to Freedom!

  • samgardner

    I frequent a teacher’s forum website on a regular basis; one person asked if other teachers informed students of their right to refrain from saying the Pledge. Most didn’t — even while recognizing the right, they would disclaim responsibility for informing them of the right.

    Personally, I don’t think kids should be introduced to the Pledge at all until they understand their right to refuse.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    You don’t understand. The flag and the pledge are not just symbols of America, they are America! Unless everyone rededicates themselves to America every day, we’re at real risk of becoming something else. Probably Canadians. There are principles here far more important than anyone’s so-called “free speech” rights.

  • moarscienceplz

    Well we sure as heck don’t want these students learning to think for themselves!

  • Childermass

    Of course large numbers of kids are not saying the pledge. At least that was the case when I was a kid. Many were too busy talking to their neighbors, goofing off, dozing off, trying to finish that homework assignment, etc. to be bothered. And I bet that most of them today object to kids not reciting the pledge.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Pledging oneself to nationalism is to embrace fail.

  • illdoittomorrow

    Ed at 0:

    “So why is it a bad thing to inform them of [their Constitutional right]? Because you think more kids might exercise that right? Is that seriously what the principal of a public high school ought to be doing?”

    The principal of a public school is there to oversee the efficient installation of educational content into taxpaying parents’ pets/property in order to make them productive workers. Inefficient content delivery and/or addition of content not relevant to future employment and service is an affront to taxpaying property owners.

  • samgardner

    In fairness — some of the teachers thought they would get in trouble for teaching such a right, and they were probably correct in thinking so.

  • abb3w

    The school policy handbook says that “The building administrator must approve any posters, memos, or newsletters to be circulated through the school by posting intra- or inter-school mail, or sent home, in advance, in writing”. The troublemaker students should apply to distribute copies of Justice Jackson’s majority opinion from the Barnette decision to all students.

    (7 point type, with bold 12 point for some of the choicest bits at the end, can turn the ruling into a trifold double-sided 8.5-by-11 leaflet, or made into a single-sided three-column 11-by-17 poster. Expect to pay for the paper and copying costs.)

  • macallan

    I grew up in eastern Germany, nationalistic rituals like that still creep me the fuck out by looking way too much like the bad old days.

  • dogmeat

    Let me ask the obvious question: Why is the school so opposed to telling the truth? Students do have the constitutionally protected right to not stand for or recite the pledge of allegiance.

    Just to point out one thing, I don’t think the principal was opposed to what the kids were doing. If that were the case they likely would have simply put a stop to it and then tried to roadblock any effort by the kids to promote the “crazy” idea that they have rights.

    My experience as an educator (and administrator) has included some policies that I thought were utterly idiotic, but legally I was required to follow them because they had been established by the board (an elected body representing the people of the district). In this case I get the impression that the principal agreed with the kids, but was limited by policy and had to go to the board for any sort of change. Odds are good, with a lot of locally elected government, the policy that they implemented was likely all they could get through.

    Sam@3:

    one person asked if other teachers informed students of their right to refrain from saying the Pledge. Most didn’t — even while recognizing the right, they would disclaim responsibility for informing them of the right.

    Personally, I don’t think kids should be introduced to the Pledge at all until they understand their right to refuse.

    Sam,

    I’ll tell you that I didn’t really do/say much about the Pledge until I began teaching in a very conservative area. Prior to that, the schools where I taught did the pledge, it was required by state law, but usually less than half of the kids participated. I usually stood quietly (mostly because I was already standing) but didn’t participate.

    Once I moved, the situation changed and after a few months in a very conservative district I made a concerted effort to discuss with my students the pledge; the question of rights regarding participation, the legality of the phrase “under God” (after covering the Lemon Test), and having a discussion about their perception regarding student rights and forced participation in the pledge. In ten years of doing this I learned that every single senior government class that I taught had a minimum of 1/3 of the students who had either personally been forced to participate in the pledge or had witnessed a fellow student forced to participate.

  • jacobfromlost

    If you google “Pledge of Allegiance 1920s” and look at the images, you will find something that most people don’t realize.

    You can also look up “Bellamy salute”.

    If we want to get really conservative and go back to the original Pledge, we dump “under god” and embrace what is now universally a Nazi salute.

  • Crudely Wrott

    Was about second grade, I seem to recall. Would make the year 1957. Woodman Park Elementary School in Dover, NH. On the first day of that school year Mrs. Rich spoke to the class concerning the morning ritual of reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. My class was told that participation was voluntary; those who wanted to repeat the magic words were free to do so. The part that stands out is that the class was informed that those who didn’t want to were free to refrain, though standing was considered polite whether or not the formula was intoned.

    It took me a while to work through the implications, what with all the peer expectations and my perception of Mrs. Rich’s opinion of me. For some time I followed along with the rest assuming, as I see in retrospect, that compliance was the easy road to follow. I also began to realize that pretending was silly. The prayer was an alien thing and I had to ask myself if it was really necessary to pledge anything daily. Wouldn’t once be sufficient?

    Amusingly then, and satisfying at this present remove, I followed my contrarian impulse and gradually spoke more softly each day until I wasn’t making any of those noises at all.

    Thank you, Mrs. Rich and thank you NH school systems and thank you Supreme Court. Between you and my parents you assured me that I could make my own decisions regarding my own values and allegiances. To this day I am a happy man.