North Carolina District’s New Pledge Policy May Include Discussing Coercion and the First Amendment

When it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance, the policy at many school districts in the country amounts to: “Say it.” Kids who don’t want to participate for religious or personal reasons are often ostracized or punished.

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That’s why the new policy being considered by the Wake County School Board in North Carolina is such a welcome relief. Not only are they stressing the fact that it’s optional, they’re using it as an opportunity to talk about coercion and the First Amendment:

All North Carolina public schools are required under a 2006 state law to schedule time each day for students to recite the pledge, although students can’t be compelled to participate. But a proposed Wake County school board policy goes further to say the district’s citizenship curriculum “may encourage teachers to use the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as an opportunity to teach students about the history concerning coercion and the importance of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.”

What a fantastic idea. Maybe more kids would be able to make a conscious decision about whether or not to stand for the Pledge if they understood why some of their peers didn’t want to participate.

Board members made clear this is not a radical proposal. They insist they’re just following language given to them by the state’s School Boards Association.

Wherever it comes from is irrelevant. It’s a good policy. I hope they keep it and I hope kids get a real education about the Pledge instead of just being told to stand up for mindless recitation of it.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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