Sunday, October 23, 2005

Patriotism in the School...Board?

At a Milwaukee Public School board meeting Thursday night, the members of the group voted 7-2 on a measure saying that there would be time at the beginning of each future meeting for a recitation of the pledge and a short student-conducted presentation on the U.S. Constitution.

I applaud the school board's decision to set an example by following the "spirit of the law" that requires Milwaukee schools to say the pledge at least once a week, with participation being voluntary in both instances. The second stipulation in the ruling, the presentation on the Constitution which was added by board member Jennifer Morales to replace the pledge, is another great idea worth praise.

Now here's where the whole thing gets hairy. Board member Jeff Spence suggested doing both the pledge and the presentation, with Danny Goldberg adding that the presentation "would make the pledge more meaningful." Nevertheless, when Morales voiced concerns over an impending "witch hunt", both Spence and Goldberg pledged their support when they come after her for not saying the pledge.

Now that just sounds like a poor defense of a choice she has the right to make. The entire process hinges on the fact that recitation of the pledge is in all cases voluntary. So what makes Ms. Morales think there will be a witch hunt, and that it will focus on her? Maybe the witch hunt will come from the anti-God crowd and will focus on the members who voted for the pledge? In this case, would Morales show her support for Spence and Goldberg, who both voted for the measure?

The Journal-Sentinel quotes her as saying "the pledge had gone through changes over the years, including a period when the officially recommended salute was almost identical to the one-arm salute of Nazis." Yet another poor defense with no foundation for an argument. The recommendation of the salute resembling that of the Nazis was no "period", it was the process used during the first recitation in 1892. Seeing as this is forty years prior to the founding of the Nazi party in Germany, I don't think they intended to resemble the "one-arm salute of Nazis."

The second board member to vote against the proposal, Peter Blewett, said that the student presentations would provide "a fascinating opportunity" to engage students in discussion of American values." However, he also commented that if a pledge is something you're supposed to keep always, why would you need to say it so often. Hmm, well perhaps because it's not easy to forget you're married, but it is very easy to forget the sacrifices of the hundreds of thousands of brave men and women who've sacrificed their lives protecting our freedoms as Americans.

I commend the seven board members who took it upon themselves to set an example for other boards around the state and country by accepting this resolution. We will see, very soon I think, what kind of fight they will face from the anti-God crew that so vehemently seeks to get the pledge out of our classrooms.

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