Parents are outraged after a Georgia school’s decision to drop a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance from its morning meeting agenda.
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School Principal Lara Zelski said that decision was taken as part of a wider “effort to begin our day as a fully inclusive and connected community.”
“Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly obvious that more and more of our community were choosing to not stand and/or recite the pledge,” she wrote in a statement posted to the school’s website, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Zelski insisted that students would be encouraged to say the Pledge of Allegiance throughout the rest of the school day, if they wish. Startlingly, however, the principal expressed her desire to pen a new pledge for her students to recite every morning before class. This new text, she hopes, will provide students with a framework which is based on educational values.
“Teachers and the K-5 leadership team will be working with students to create a school pledge that we can say together at morning meeting,” Zelski wrote, adding that the new pledge will “focus on students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”
“I’m really looking forward to what our students create,” she added.
According to Fox News, the new recital would be titled the “Wolf Pack Chant,” to align with the school’s official mascot.
As you can imagine, the news did not go over well with parents, and even caught the attention of Georgia House Speaker, David Ralston.
“I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students,” he quipped, voicing his support for the original pledge.
Following a fierce backlash, the school quickly backtracked on its policy change, stating that there had been “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,” it added.
“Students are offered the opportunity to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” said Superintendent Morcease J. Beasley of Clayton County, referring to a DOE policy that ensures every child has the chance to recite the pledge. “If they choose to participate or not is their individual and constitutional right and the reason the flag of the United States of America exists. Anything that removes their right to choose to participate as their conscience dictates, in my opinion, is un-American and immoral.”
In its clarifying statement, signed off by Governing Board Chair, Lia Santos, the schools noted that its “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,” the statement concluded.
(H/T: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)