In a recent article, a teacher confronted a high school student for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. Many teachers desire to guide students in a positive manner. Teachers can use several strategies to avoid the embarrassment associated with students who have parental permission to avoid standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.
According to the article, Teacher Confronts Lakewood High School Student For Refusing To Stand For Pledge of Allegiance, a sixteen year old high school student refused to follow a teachers directive to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. On the next day the student continued to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher told the student that he could not find any policy that allowed students to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Why are students allowed to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance?
In January 9, 1942, after the Minersville School District v. Gobitis court decision, the West Virginia Legislature redefined its statutes to require all schools in the state to conduct courses of instruction in history, civics, and in the Constitutions of the United States and the state of West Virginia. In response, the West Virginia State Board of Education was directed to implement courses of study consistent with the decision by the West Virginia Legislature.
The board required that the salute to the flag become an intricate part of the program in the public schools. All teachers and students were required to participate in the salute honoring the nation represented by the Flag. If a teacher or student refused to salute the flag ii was considered an act of insubordination.
In 1943, the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette determined the requirement for students standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. The Supreme Court of the United States held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the courts 6-3 decision.
Why do schools continue to force students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance?
Even though the requirement to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of a students Freedom of Speech Rights, school districts continue to force and require students to stand. In New Mexico, the Department of Education Secretary will not provide students an opt out of standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. In Marion County Florida, the school district continues to require that students participate in the pledge. The 11th circuit court in Florida has opted to allow school districts to require that student recite the Pledge of Allegiance. However, the students are not required to stand.
It appears that schools continue to desire to create citizens that are loyal to the country. However, the methods used seem to be contradictory to the Bill of Rights, the constitution and is paramount to shoving social principles down the throats of our school aged students.
The requirement of the Pledge of Allegiance can place the teacher in a precarious position. On one side, the school wants their students to experience freedoms and on the other side, schools want to limit the freedoms that students can experience.
What is a teacher to do when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance?
It is best for teachers to always respect the rights of their students. When a student refuses to stand ask them why? Do not make it confrontational. If they give a supposedly acceptable answer, that is consistent with their constitutional rights, ask them to bring you their documentation and a permission letter from their parents. Once you have the documentation share the information with your immediate administrator and request direction for how to guide this student and the remaining students in the classroom.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
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