Recently a question was put on facebook asking people's opinion on whether or not students should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school. This is my response after spending over 12 years in K-12 education, observing this practice. What I am saying here is true in schools in the Pacific Northwest. It may not be true in other parts of the country.
First of all, no one can MAKE a child say the pledge. Even though the schools set aside time each morning, students have a choice to recite it or remain silent. I have noticed that the younger, elementary children all do an excellent job. Many of the older middle or high school age youth who do recite it, do so with very little meaning.
In the schools I have observed, the pledge is said not only at the beginning of each day, but at sporting events and at every assembly. This results in it being recited seven or eight times in the course of one week. I am a person who loves this great country and by no means would never want to diminish the importance of the pledge, but wouldn't you say that reciting it this many times is overdoing it? It can become a meaningless act after time. Would it not be better to say it less but with heart-felt emotion?
Now, for the words of the pledge. How many children and young people know the meaning of "republic" or "indivisible" or "liberty" or "justice?" Are these concepts being taught in the schools?
How many people, adults included, know the symbolism of the flag itself: the stars, the stripes, and the colors red, white, and blue? They all stand for something, which could be the topic of another article. The flag should be honored, if for no other reason that it is the symbol of this great nation, but it should be done so with understanding and meaning stemming from the bottom of a person's heart. It should be recited along with a love of country and why this nation is great. If the schools and our legislators insist on our children and our youth reciting it, especially several times a week, then they need to also mandate a curriculum that teaches the meaning of the flag and patriotism in general. Otherwise, the pledge can become just another activity that is done at school, and I think that to a large degree, this is exactly what has happened.
Now, what about the phrase, "one nation under God?" At the time the United States came into existence it definitely was founded on God and the Bible, and many of the founding fathers were confessing Christians. Even with all of this, this phrase was NOT in the original pledge; it wasn't added until the time of the cold war with the Soviet Union, because the United States wanted to distinquish itself from communist atheism.
Yes, the schools must retain the pledge of allegiance but should it be said several times a week, just because the law requires it, without it being accompanied by respect, meaning, understanding, and love of country?