Last night, not long after announcing they would no longer say the Pledge of Allegiance in the mornings, the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School in Georgia reversed course, saying they would continue the morning ritual after all.
It’s not like what they said earlier this week should’ve been controversial. Elementary campus president Lara Zelski had announced that students would still have the opportunity to say the Pledge, but due to passive and silent protests, it was no longer a tradition that unified everybody and it would no longer be recited in the all-school morning meeting. Instead, it would take place in individual classrooms later in the day.
Conservatives saw that as some kind of unpatriotic betrayal and flipped out, leading Governing Board Chair
Lia Santos to announce a revision of the policy:
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School has and will continue to provide students with an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each school day. In the past, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited during our all-school morning meeting, but at the start of the school year, the daily practice was moved to classrooms. This change was done in compliance with state law [O.C.G.A. 20-2-310 (c)(1)] and aligned Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School with most other schools in the state who also say the Pledge of Allegiance in individual classrooms. However, it appears there was some miscommunication and inconsistency in the rollout. Starting next week, we will return to our original format and provide our students with the opportunity to recite the Pledge during the all-school morning meeting.
At ANCS, our priority is to provide our students with a safe and dynamic learning environment where they cultivate a love for learning, develop self-knowledge, and are constantly challenged to excel. We support our students in their growth and see it as our duty as educators to respect their First Amendment rights.
We are working together with the school administration to ensure we address concerns and feedback from our school family, while continuing to uphold and support the rights of every member of our school community.
Lia Santos — Governing Board Chair
Even politicians jumped in to condemn the earlier decision, including gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp:
There's no question about it. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is the right thing to do. At school, students should stand united to honor the flag, our country, and those who have sacrificed for our freedom. https://t.co/m9dnBUEx2v#gapol #maga #tcot #gafirst pic.twitter.com/UTO61jXwJM
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) August 9, 2018
(Vote for Stacey Abrams, everyone.)
Georgia’s House Speaker also weighed in:
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, weighed in, praising the Pledge of Allegiance’s tenets and ending with, “I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students.”
The divisiveness occurred because of the Pledge, not moving it to later in the school day and removing the pressure on children to say it against their will.
It’s unfortunately the school changed back to its old policy, but it’s also not hard to understand given the sort of pressure and backlash they must have received. All the more reason for students to push back even harder as the year begins.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian and Wesley for the link)