Saline School District Considers Pledge Policy

Some say reciting the pledge to the flag would unify students while others say it may prove divisive.

One nation. Indivisible. For All.

The Pledge of Allegiance reads like a unity document but a proposal to have it recited daily at all has some wondering if doing so might actually prove divisive.

At Tuesday’s meeting, newly elected Board of Education Trustee David Holden proposed that all Saline Area Schools students begin the day with the Pledge of Allegiance. Holden said it was an idea that received unanimous support from people as he campaigned during the fall.

The Pledge of Allegiance is recited in Saline’s elementary schools, but not in the middle school or high school. Board policy currently states that classrooms may open the school day with activities like the pledge or patriotic songs. The policy also states that a student who expresses a religious objection to repeating the pledge shall not be required to participate, though they are not permitted to disturb the participation of others.

Holden said reciting the pledge would provide brief lesson in history and citizenship for every student, each day. He also said he didn't think it should be a controversial proposal.

“A lot of people focus on ‘one nation, under God.’ I prefer to focus on the back end of the pledge: ‘with liberty and justice for all,’” Holden said. “I think it works very well with some of the things we are trying to do to discourage bullying. It was the original diversity document before people started talking about diversity.”

The proposal drew praise and criticism from several Saline High School students at the meeting.

Aaron Mukerjee, the Saline High School student representative on the board of education, said he surveyed fellow students on Facebook and after 160 comments, and he believes the policy might prove divisive. Mukerjee, a senior, said students who choose not to stand and say the pledge may be ostracized.

“Although I believe the intentions are excellent and personally have no problem with saying the Pledge of Allegiance, I think this could be divisive and roll back the efforts made to unify the student body,” Mukerjee said.

During public comment, students spoke in favor of and against the proposal.

Student Paul Popa said he thought that making the pledge optional ensured that the activity would not be divisive. Popa said he understood that that the “one nation under God” line concerned some, but said he thought the overall message was one of patriotism—something he said was lacking at the school.

“When I walk in halls and talk with friends, I never see anyone talking about about how happy they are to be American. In fact, when I look at the dress they are wearing they actually have clothing that is more supportive of other countries,” Popa said, talking about clothing featuring flags of other nations. “I am proud to be an American citizen. The Pledge of Allegiance pulls together the ideals and morals of what it means to be an American Citizen.”

Another student took to the podium and voiced disapproval with the proposal.
“Myself, I don’t mind saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I am an Eagle Scout. But not to be disrespectful, I don’t think this is really the board’s decision,” he said. “I think it should be up to the students.”

The proposal also was addressed by residents in the audience.

“We do live in a free society where we are not required to make pledges. We need to make clear to the students that while this is something that is kind of nice, and you can say it if you want to, you are not required to do it. So put me down as a no,” said Mary Lirones.

Board President Lisa Slawson said the proposal would be forwarded to the policy committee for further study. The board could get beat to the punch. In November, the state Senate passed a bill that requires all Michigan public schools to start the day with the pledge.

State Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Twp., told the board that he expects the House will take up and pass the bill this year.

In an interview prior to the meeting, Holden said that he plans to work with area organizations to ensure that every classroom in the district has a flag. Holden said the effort would be funded privately so that no money is diverted from the classroom.

Kathy Van Buren January 11, 2012 at 03:06 PM
All classrooms should say the pledge to acknowledge the fact that they live in a country that provides them a "free" public education; "free" from discrimination. The students that have parents that have immigrated from another country & have become an American citizen have had to stand & make a public pledge. Many citizens that are born here don't have the same respect for what it means to be a US citizen. Students that don't want to recite the pledge, it is their choice, but they should stand-remove their hats in respect for where they live. If they were a guest in another country I would expect them to do the same & respect others. Not standing or showing respect during situations such as this is a form of bullying by those that don't show respect for those that want to participate. Maybe it is time to get some WWII vets in the schools to talk about their experiences to fight for their freedoms before they all too old. The Girl Scouts had a woman speak to them about being a young girl in England during the war & how her home was bombed & destoryed. The pledge should be more than words, students need to understand what the words mean. I am pleased that Saline Schools are taking a proactive role & not waiting for a state mandate. This could help to unite a district around one common understanding & pride for the country in which they have an unlimited opportunities to be & do whatever you can dream. Kathy Van Buren
Mary J. Ellis January 11, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Very well put.
Kelly SaiyaCork January 11, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I like the current policy. Doesn't sound broken at all. Seems to be working. Perhaps we should trust the children to decide. What if, each day a different class or a different club or team were come up with the day's beginning song or pledge or other historic document, law or speech? There is more to being a United States Citizen than just the pledge. The Eagle Scout is spot on. Let the students decide. The current policy allows this & then the board can move onto more urgent matters such as funding, drugs, violence & mold.
Momof3 January 12, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Since when is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance for a country we all live in and reap the benefits of divisive. UGH!! Kids can not choose for themselves, that is why they are kids. We raise our children, we TEACH them, letting the kids decide to me shouldn't be an option. They should know why we live in this country, not in another, along with being reminded by reciting the pledge. Kids that do not want to recite it shouldn't be forced to, but they should be able to be respectful and stand with the others out of respect for the country that we live in. I agree with Kathy, bring in some WW2 vets and let them tell their stories.
Kelly SaiyaCork January 12, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Momof3, the current policy allows for all that you wrote. I am confused however, by your saying "Kids can not choose for themselves" & then saying "they shouldn't be forced to" in your post. Perhaps you can clarify that?
Momof3 January 12, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I am merely saying that kids should not be the ones to decide whether or not the SCHOOL is saying the pledge of allegiance. I understand that the lower elementary classes do include it, but the higher grades do not. It is the RIGHT of the individual student to refrain from saying it, but as a community I think that we should be doing what we can to teach children that it is important to be proud of your country. If that is what the current policy does, then no change should be necessary. My opinion is that it should be offered on a regular basis not by force, but because you should.
Heinrich Genscher June 17, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Nothing would show pride in the nation and inclusiveness it stands for better than to adopt a system of national health care.


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