A U.S. flag flutters over top of the skyline of New York (R) and Jersey City (L), as seen from Bayonne, New Jersey, August 6, 2011. New York will mark the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center with ceremonies on September 11. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: CITYSCAPE DISASTER IMAGES OF THE DAY)Reuters
An Air Force veteran is outraged that her daughter’s school recently announced that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of each day, the Seattle Times reports.
Haley Sides, 26, moved to Seattle after four years in the Air Force so her 6-year-old daughter could attend John Stanford International School, which promotes the same multiculturalism that Sides says she has tried to instill in her half-Jamaican daughter, according to the paper.
But Sides became angry when the school’s new principal announced that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day before the start of classes. The policy, which has long been mandated by district policy but not traditionally observed at John Stanford , will start Monday.
"It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies," said Sides. "This has no educational value for young children. Absolutely none."
Sides started crying as she described why she is so opposed to the pledge being recited in her daughter's school. The explanation goes back to her partner, a Jamaican-born Navy serviceman who died just seven months after obtaining U.S. citizenship — and when his daughter was 18 months old.
According to the paper, the pledge will be read over the PA system every Monday and recited in individual classrooms the other days of the week. Students who don't want to participate will be allowed to sit or stand respectfully.
Many parents said they had never really thought about the practice before.
John Stanford, which offers dual-language immersion programs in Spanish and Japanese, has traditionally let teachers decide whether or not to do the pledge, said Kelly Aramaki, a former principal who moved to Beacon Hill International School this year.
But Aramaki's replacement, Jesely Alvarez, decided to change that. In a pair of letters sent to parents this week, Alvarez acknowledged some opposition from teachers but said that after a month of internal debate it was time "to move forward" in "following state law."
At John Stanford's weekly coffee hour Friday, the pledge was a hot topic of conversation among the dozen or so parents in attendance.
Janet Robinson, the PTSA treasurer, argued that its recitation would be an opportunity to talk about an important representation of American freedom and liberty.
"It's a symbol of our country," she said.