Daily Archives: November 19, 2008

Vermont Town Divided Over Pledge

It’s ironic, isn’t it? The Pledge of Allegiance, which describes the United States as “indivisible”, has become one of the most divisive issues among us.

I first read about this particular division at My Crazy Life. You’ll want to check out the video she has posted there. Mike Newdow is interviewed by a frothing-at-the-mouth Fox News reporter (as if that’s not a redundant turn of phrase!). It’s slightly amusing to watch as Mike maintains his composure, remaining completely rational, while she (I don’t know her name) can barely contain herself.

So what’s up in Vermont? CBS News reports:

(AP) No one is sure when daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance fell by the wayside at Woodbury Elementary School.

But efforts to restore them have erupted into a bitter dispute in this town of about 800 residents, with school officials blocking the exercise from classrooms over concerns that it holds children who don’t participate up to scorn.

See there? Small town folks can too be rational.

So what did this little school do? They arranged for students who want to participate in group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to gather in the gym and do it there. You might consider this a reasonable compromise that works for everyone. If only…

Tedesco, 55, a retired Marine Corps major, and others who signed his petitions didn’t like that solution, calling it disruptive and inappropriate because it put young children in the position of having to decide between pre-class play time and leaving the classroom to say the pledge.

So, let me see if I understand this correctly. Woodbury Elementary School is ticking along just fine, not having daily recitations of the Pledge. Things have been this way for so long that, according to the article, no one is even sure when the practice “fell by the wayside”.

Then along comes Mr. Tedesco with his petition and lobbying, which ultimately results in agreement by school officials to resume the daily exercise of reciting the Pledge, and special accommodations being made for students who wish to participate.

In other words: disrupting the routine of the entire school!

Then, when things don’t play out to his complete and ultimate satisfaction, he objects on the grounds that the compromises and accommodations are, what? Did he call it “disruptive”?!

Good Gawd! Irony just doesn’t get any jucier than that, does it?

Pst… Tedesco. You instigated the “disruption”. If you were truly interested in not disrupting things, you would have left things the way they were.

But, I suppose if Tedesco & Co. had been granted every one of their wishes, everything would be peachy keen. Never mind those parents and students who consider the Pledge itself to be an inappropriate disruption in the classroom. But who cares what they think, anyway? They’re probably not even real Americans. In fact, they can just take their sorry arses someplace like Iraq if they don’t want to hear the Pledge of Allegiance, God bless America!

I think it’s also worth highlighting that, while Tedesco considers this important enough to circulate a petition lobbying for classroom recitation of the Pledge and ultimately withdraw his children from the school (he says for academic reasons and not the Pledge issue, but the timing is rather suspicious) he doesn’t think it’s important enough to make kids give up a few minutes of playtime in the morning.

What about values? What about teaching children priorities? Sacrifice builds character, etc., etc.

But wait! What if Mr. Tedesco is really worried that, given the choice between playtime and gathering to recite the Pledge, the kids would choose playtime? Gawd knows we can’t start allowing children to make choices, especially when they’re likely to opt out of something so vitally important to the grown ups!

No! This ritual must be performed in the classroom where they can’t get away, where those who don’t wish to participate or might object to it for some reason are forced to hear it.

In other words, it’s not enough to simply accommodate students who wish to participate, we must force all students to participate in some way or another. The fact that this doesn’t surprise me is a bit unsettling.

But, hey! I could be completely wrong. Maybe Tedesco and those who share his views really do think that the arrangement is disruptive and imposes undue hardship on students. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’ve come up with a solution that should satisfy everyone! I’m all about compromise, after all.

I would be perfectly happy for my son’s school to have two morning bells. The first bell calls for all students who wish to participate in group recitation of the Pledge to report to their classrooms for said ritual. The second bell calls all remaining students to class after the ceremony. Everyone gets the same tardy bell. I’m willing to allow the first bell to ring at the usual time to avoid cutting into anyone’s morning playtime or other recreational activities.

Tedesco & Co. get their playtime and their classroom recitation; those who do not wish to participate are not forced to.

This has the added benefit of staggering hall traffic at larger schools, making the hallways less crowded and thereby safer for all students. Students continue reporting to their regular classrooms, roll call is taken as usual, and class instruction begins immediately afterward.

Of course, this is still in its rough phase, but it seems reasonable to me. Any objections?

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

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