Elementary school puts Pledge of Allegiance back into morning meetings after major backlash

Rob Shimshock, DCNF

A Georgia elementary school put the Pledge of Allegiance back into its morning all-school meeting Thursday after backlash from parents and politicians.

The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) reversed course on a policy that moved the Pledge of Allegiance from an all-school morning meeting — which included parents — to individual classrooms, after parents and students raised concerns, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“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,” ANCS elementary campus principal Lara Zelski said. ANCS has both elementary and middle school campuses. “There are many emotions around this and we want everyone in our school family to start their day in a positive manner. After all, that is the whole purpose of our morning meeting.”

Zelski suggested replacing the Pledge of Allegance with a pledge expressing “students’ civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society.”

But the school reversed its decision to move the Pledge after parents and politicians spoke out.

“I’m sure our House Education Committee will examine whether taxpayer funds should be used to instill such a divisive ideology in our students,” Republican Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said.

“There’s no question about it,” Georgia’s Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp said. “Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is the right thing to do. At school, students should stand united to honor the flag, our country, and those who have sacrificed for our freedom.”

Georgia’s Department of Education requires schools to establish a daily time for the Pledge, at the beginning or during a homeroom block, but forbids schools from mandating its recitation.

ANCS said its policy followed the state department’s mandate around 6:15 p.m., but that “it appears there was 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.”

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