It may not come as a surprise that many New York City elementary schools ignore a state law that requires the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, according to DNAinfo.
But now that one city elementary school has just instituted the practice, the outlet said, some parents of Peck Slip School students are not liking the new routine one bit.
Not all of them, mind you.
DNAinfo reported that other parents were behind the move to get the pledge recited there — the classrooms lacked American flags, too, the outlet said — and began earlier this year pushing the Department of Education to turn things around.
“Not having the pledge or flags was something a number of us were concerned about for years, and when we found out it was actually law — something I think many people don’t know — we started making calls to the DOE,” one parent, who also called the DOE over the issue but didn’t want her name reported, told DNAinfo.
“It’s a shame that this has become politicized,” she added to the outlet. “I’m not a Trump supporter, I just think the pledge is a tradition that honors our country and should be a part of our children’s lives.”
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On March 3, Peck Slip School Principal Maggie Siena sent out an email to parents announcing that the school was going to begin complying with the state law and broadcasting the pledge over its loudspeakers each morning starting March 7.
“As per New York State Education Law 8NYCRR section 108.5, we will be offering an opportunity for students at Peck Slip to say the Pledge of Allegiance in class,” Siena wrote.
“Children and adults may opt out of saying the Pledge,” she wrote, adding that “The Pledge of Allegiance has an interesting history, which will be a focus of study for our fifth graders in years to come.
“Children who know the Pledge and want to lead it will have the opportunity to do so over the loudspeaker,” the principal noted in the email, which also included the full text of the pledge for parents interested in teaching it to their children.
Siena did not return request for comment.
On the other side of the coin are parents who don’t like the idea of a pledge recitation in light of the controversy surrounding Republican President Donald Trump and for other reasons.
“Both my grandfathers fought in World War II, and I love this country, but I don’t feel like the pledge is the right way to express that, especially at a school with lots of international parents and students who had never even heard about the pledge,” one parent of a third-grader told DNAinfo.
The parent, who also didn’t want to be identified, told the outlet: “I’ve never been comfortable with the ‘Under God’ part — and as I looked into the history of the pledge, it does have anti-immigrant sentiment and we don’t need any more of that.”
Peck Slip parent Amanda Zink stepped up to say the pledge is important — but that each student has a choice to say it or not say it.
“I personally believe that it’s an important part of our history, and saluting the flag, to my family, represents saluting those service men and women who have fought to protect our rights. So I am for it,” Zink told DNAinfo. “If nothing else, it has started a good, healthy dialogue in our school and in my family about what it represents.”
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A Department of Education spokesman, while not specifically referencing the Peck Slip School, confirmed that state law “requires that public schools have a daily Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, adding, “If the DOE is informed that a school does not have a daily Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, we work with the school to ensure they incorporate the pledge.”
Peck Slip was not the only school in the neighborhood that didn’t have a daily pledge. Most public elementary schools in Lower Manhattan don’t recite the oath, parents at those schools said.
“It’s not a snub, or for lack of love of country. I just think the schools schedules are really busy, and the pledge wasn’t ever part of their routine,” Shannon Burkett — a parent at TriBeCa elementary school P.S. 150 which doesn’t recite the pledge — told DNAinfo.
“Our schools are very international,” she said to the outlet, “and I do think that now, in light of Trump, if this was a decision that was forced upon us, and not something we would have decided as a school, it would be concerning.”