Should the Pledge of Allegiance be recited every day in public schools?

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Helen Le and Claire Gilliland

PRO: Helen Le

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Every day, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited at school. It inspires patriotism — a pride for this country that is unfortunately lacking at present. And that means it’s needed.

The Pledge of Allegiance at its heart is the symbol of belief in the nation. Public schools especially should require students to recite the pledge since they are publicly funded by the state and federal government. According to the California Department of Education, public education is the largest program funded by the state with its General Fund resources. A total of $45 billion from the state was allocated to K-12 education alone in 2014-2015, and when federal funds and other sources such as property taxes were accounted for, public schools received a total of $76.6 billion. With these funds, the Public Policy Institute of California records 6.2 million students who benefit from publicly funded schools.

Students should remember their education and their privileges and their freedom when they complain about their country — a country that permits them to voice such complaints.

People don’t just owe America, though, as if this weird, strange, distant mass requires undying love and loyalty. This country right now, however, the one that provides its people with so many opportunities — that is deserving of pride. The people are Americans, of the United States of America. And the pledge connects them.

Without the pledge, without that connection among people who may be entirely different otherwise, the people risk division, and they risk falling apart.

Oftentimes, advocates of removing the pledge entirely from public schools relate the Pledge of Allegiance to Nazis and their iconic salute of institutionalized murder and oppression. Others will mention how other countries do not have salutes like that of the United States.

Although the original salute motions involved an extension of the arm, they were changed due to the very same opinion: that it resembled the Nazi salute. USHistory.com, a site that stores historical documents, states that the American salute for the pledge was changed to hand-over-heart during the entire pledge in World War II, which is how it still is today.

People heard the complaints, real threats to American nationalism due to people’s changing perceptions of the pledge, and they responded to them by changing the salute. And they appealed to the same people they were joined with by the pledge.

The United States is not like any other country, just as other countries are not like the United States. This nation was built on the foundation of patriotism, and the country was able to develop with a common interest: a prospering future. The Pledge of Allegiance is only one symbol of that, of what binds every citizen of the U.S. together. And the people are stronger together.

Other countries also have pledges, such as the Philippines. Pledges and oaths of allegiance are not uncommon throughout the world, despite what some people may think. They are also how other countries display their national pride.

Every citizen of the United States has protected rights, including free speech. The First Amendment allows students to stand and recite the pledge or not, at their own discretion. But the student should, just as public schools should encourage the act, every day.

Students may have their own reasons to feel they owe no loyalty to this country. They may disagree with the supposed oppression of different groups, or the inadequate solutions to social issues, or the fact that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will soon be the head of the executive branch.

But then where does the allegiance of the student lie?

The Pledge of Allegiance provides the opportunity for people to demonstrate their patriotism and to find others with the same ideals so that the fundamental values of this nation are displayed.

To take away that right because of some discomfort about personal disagreements or vague similarities to other pledges, despite the fact that all core values of a pledge are the same, is absurd.

To take away something that allows you to be you and me to be me and yet provides us with the same chances in life, to take away something that honors what we are here for — that’s insane. That will tear us apart.

CON: Claire Gilliland

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Students stand up and vow to remain loyal to their country forever on a daily basis in the form of the Pledge of Allegiance. From as young as five, children are brainwashed with the repetition of a pledge of loyalty to their country that they may not even support.

Many argue that the Pledge of Allegiance should not be recited daily in schools as it influences children’s beliefs and teaches them to be blindly loyal to their country rather than considering its flaws before making a decision. Young children recite the pledge to remain loyal to their country without knowing its flaws, which just spreads an ignorance — children who do not know any better should not be told to vow their allegiance to a country that they don’t even completely understand; acknowledging and accepting faults of the country should instead be valued above the pledge.

If teachers are not supposed to share their religious or political beliefs due to their influence on young, susceptible students, then, logically, students should not have to pledge their loyalty to their country in school. Parents may not want their children to pledge loyalty to their country, or the repetition of the pledge may influence children differently than their parents desire.

It’s okay for children to be loyal to their country, but when children as young as five are being practically brainwashed by relentless repetition to love their country forever without being taught that it has flaws, a line is crossed.

Most schools in the country have students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the daily morning announcements.

However, students should be able to make their own decision about whether or not they wish to remain loyal to the country they were born in, and in turn should be able to make a decision about whether or not they want to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Students are allowed to sit during the pledge, but some schools discipline students for doing so. Students have the right to peacefully protest and should not be punished for refusing to take part in the tradition. Schools should not even recite it daily over the morning announcements to allow younger children to reflect on the flaws in their country rather than being blindly loyal to it. Older students are mature enough to acknowledge faults in their country and smart enough to know whether or not they want to be loyal to it despite its flaws. They should not have to hear the pledge every day; it occasionally distracts from learning or interrupts a test, and has no real benefit, because if a student is either loyal or not loyal to their country then reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day is not going to change that.

The mindless repetition of patriotism and loyalty to a country mirrors the excessive fascism that plagued Nazi Germany. In fact, the Pledge of Allegiance used to feature the extending of one’s hand away from the heart and out in front of them, but that was altered because it too closely resembled mantras repeated in Nazi Germany.

Additionally, the pledge became widespread to combat any possible communist sentiment in the United States. Because of this, the phrase “under God” was added in the ’50s; Americans wished to combat the Soviet idea that individuals’ rights were given to them by the state with the typically American idea that individuals’ rights were God-given.

However, this country was built on a list of freedoms under the First Amendment, including the freedom of religion. The phrase “under God” is more religiously exclusive because it does not apply to all religions and therefore isn’t applicable to all Americans. Students should not have to hear or recite a pledge about how great their country is and listen as it excludes them.

Taxpayers fund public schools via their taxes, so public schools should not have children repeat exclusionary pledges that don’t account for all American citizens who pay for them.

The main argument in favor of the Pledge of Allegiance is that it reinforces patriotism, which is never bad, but at times it can be unwarranted. People are pledging pride to a country with extensive violence, a large lower-class problem, and extreme police brutality. All are flaws that people rightfully wish to see change and that have people rightfully mad at their country. All lead to protests, to unanswered questions, to shouts for change; all call for anger and disappointment in one’s country.

Students should not have to listen to a daily pledge that may exclude them and that certainly brushes over major flaws in their country.