Should The Pledge Of Allegiance Be Recited in Schools in 2023? (Here is what will help you)

Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Recited in Schools?

Should the Pledge Of Allegiance be recited in schools in 2023?? Last year, the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance was disrupted due to a combination of factors, including hybrid learning and the pandemic. However, this year, the pledge has resumed as a pre-pandemic norm during Block A of the high school schedule.

Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Recited in Schools in 2023?

Reciting the pledge of allegiance is left to personal preference. Although some people argue that reciting the pledge is a valuable reminder of a shared national identity, the underlying principles of the First Amendment suggest that no majority can dictate the truth or beliefs of the minority. History has repeatedly shown that it is the minority who often holds the truth and that free thought must be protected, particularly in the minds of young people.

It may surprise many, but 47 states in the United States have laws mandating the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. In California, oversight is left to each school district. While the pledge is something most of us learned in school, many may not have been aware of its legal requirement. However, most states have exemptions for students or staff who wish to opt-out, though these exemptions are sometimes challenged.

The Hill reported a case where a student sued a Texas teacher on First Amendment grounds for requiring the class to write out the Pledge of Allegiance. The student, Mari Oliver, who is Black, refused to write out the pledge for religious and social justice reasons relating to the treatment of Black Americans in the United States. The teacher, Benjie Arnold, required the pledge to be written out and gave a failing grade to students who did not comply.

The Pledge of Allegiance, written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, has been a source of controversy and legal disputes since its inception. Despite being made mandatory in many schools, in 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that forcing students to recite the pledge was unconstitutional. However, the Court has avoided directly confronting the legality of the pledge itself.

Many states have laws requiring daily recitation of the pledge, including the phrase “under God,” which violates the right to freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Public schools are prohibited from promoting, inhibiting, or excessively involving themselves with religion, and the Supreme Court has ruled that holding prayers in public schools is unconstitutional. Reciting the pledge with the phrase “under God” is, therefore, a violation of the Constitution, regardless of whether or not individual students are forced to participate.

The Court’s ruling in 1943 established that no official can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other opinion matters and force citizens to confess their faith by word or act. The government is promoting and endorsing monotheistic religions by requiring schools to say the phrase “under God” as part of the pledge. Even if students are not forced to recite the pledge, the pledge is still a prescription of orthodoxy.

Despite the appeal of the pledge’s message of unity and patriotism, many Americans recognize that it runs counter to core American values. They believe the pledge instills nationalism rather than patriotism in the youth and risks promoting conformity over individual thought.

What States Require the Pledge of Allegiance in Schools?

Currently, in the United States, 47 states mandate that public schools include the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in their daily routines. However, students and staff members can typically opt out of reciting the pledge. This was confirmed by a Supreme Court ruling in 1943, which established that it is unconstitutional for any government institution to force someone to recite the pledge or salute the flag.

Despite this ruling, individual states still have the ability to require the pledge while also providing exemptions. The extent of these exemptions varies from state to state. For instance, some states, such as Florida and Texas, only permit students to opt out of the pledge if their parent or legal guardian consents.

To provide a comprehensive view of the laws regarding the Pledge of Allegiance across the United States, here is a complete breakdown of each state’s policies.

States with no policy for the pledge

There is no specific state law regarding the Pledge of Allegiance in Nebraska, but the state school board mandated its recitation in public schools in 2012.

Similarly, there is no statute on the Pledge of Allegiance in Wyoming, Vermont, or Hawaii, but it is typically recited in public schools in these states.

States that require the pledge be recited, with no clear exemptions

Kansas requires the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited but gives oversight responsibility to the state’s Board of Education. The pledge is required in Illinois, New Mexico, and Nevada, with varying exemptions available.

However, in Massachusetts, there is no clear exemption to the Pledge of Allegiance law, and failure to recite it can result in a fine of up to $5 for a teacher. California mandates the pledge but leaves the oversight to school districts. At the same time, Delaware requires the pledge and has previously considered a bill to establish clear exemptions and eliminate penalties for teachers who don’t lead students in the pledge.

States requiring the Pledge to be recited with stricter exemptions.

  • Texas and Florida: require written notice from a parent or guardian for a student to gain an exemption from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Pennsylvania: also requires written notice from a parent or guardian for exemption.
  • Utah:  written notice from a parent or guardian is also required, but schools must inform students of their right to opt out.
  •  Washington: students who choose not to recite the pledge must be silent.
  •  New Jersey: exempt students are expected to show full respect to the flag by standing at attention, with boys removing their headwear, during the pledge.
  •  Virginia: exempt students must be silent during the pledge recitation, and the state code mandates that all students learn about the pledge and demonstrate knowledge of it.
  •  Oregon: exempt students must also remain quiet during the pledge recitation.
  • Tennessee: exempt students must remain silent during the pledge.

States with new laws establishing the Pledge be recited in schools.

Here are the latest updates on the Pledge of Allegiance laws in some U.S. states:

  • Montana, Arkansas, and Alabama passed updated state laws in 2021 requiring recitation but with an explicit exemption.
  • North Dakota passed an updated state law in 2021 allowing schools to authorize voluntary recitation.
  • Iowa passed a state law in 2021 requiring recitation for the first time with an explicit exemption.

States with exemptions but varying interpretations

  • Kentucky: Kentucky state law requires that pupils be reminded that the Lord’s Prayer recited during the morning exercises is what the pilgrim fathers recited when they came to the country for freedom. The exercises are not meant to influence an individual’s personal religious beliefs in any way.
  • Alaska: Alaska requires school districts to inform individuals of their right not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma state law requires schools to post a notice in a conspicuous place to inform individuals that participation in the Pledge of Allegiance is optional.

States with clear exemptions

South Dakota, North Carolina, Mississippi, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire, West Virginia, South Carolina, Colorado, Idaho, Wisconsin, Maryland, Maine, and Missouri all require the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in public schools but have varying levels of exemptions for those who wish to opt-out.

Some states require written notice from a parent or guardian, while others require students to be respectful and quiet during the recitation. In some states, schools must inform students of their right not to participate; in others, it is left up to the individual school district.

While the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling established that no school or government could compel someone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag, many states still require it to be recited, albeit with varying exemptions.

FAQs

When did the Pledge of Allegiance stop in schools?

As far as we know, many schools continue to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Schools still conduct this ritual every morning before classes begin. However, we cannot speak for all schools and their policies regarding the Pledge of Allegiance.

Is the Pledge of Allegiance required?

As Americans, we have the freedom of speech to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at our discretion, including never reciting it.

Conclusion

For some, the pledge’s requirement that individuals pledge allegiance to the state feels philosophically wrong. The compulsion to make such a pledge seems to cheapen the sacrifices made by those who make that decision voluntarily. In effect, compulsory recitation undermines the patriotic values the pledge purports to strengthen.

True unity can only be achieved when people freely come together around shared beliefs rather than being coerced into conformity. A compulsory pledge of allegiance, therefore, runs counter to the principles of American democracy, and it represents the very tyranny that democracy seeks to prevent.

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