Imagine, for a moment, you're sitting next to your child and video of a class reciting the Pledge of Allegiance flashes across the TV. Your child tugs on your shirt and innocently asks, "Mom, what are they doing? What are they saying?" Shocking, you might say. It would never happen. Guess what? It happened in New York City.
Joe and Winnie Fleischer of Brooklyn, NY were flabbergasted when they realized recently their daughter Brianna, 8, had no idea what the Pledge of Allegiance was. They thought it was common knowledge, especially in the classroom.
"I was shocked that she didn't know the pledge," Joe, a NYC firefighter, told the New York Daily News. "I thought she'd been doing it in school."
They thought wrong.
So they went to the school, PS29, to change that. After spirited meetings with parents, teachers, and an "educational unit for kids," the principal agreed to have the Pledge broadcast over the school's loud speaker "for the first time in years."
But here's what's interesting. In New York, reciting the Pledge daily in schools is the law. The principal, then, isn't doing anything revolutionary -- she's just complying with what's been mandated since just after 9/11.
Others, however, aren't. The Daily News called 10 New York-area schools asking if they recite the Pledge regularly. Only half do.
Despite the law, not all of the school's parents share the Feischers' affinity for the patriotic statement. One father told the Daily News he was worried his kids would be harassed for refraining and called it "social coercion." Another branded it as unnecessary.
"One of the best things about New York City is the diversity, and I think having the pledge in school could make kids from other countries unsure of their place here," Ana Cecelia, whose son is in kindergarten at PS 29, told the Daily News.
But despite those objections, the city's Department of Education affirms the recitation, and said they will work to uphold it.
"State law requires a daily recitation of the pledge, and New York City schools must follow state law," a city Education Department spokeswoman.
That's just fine with Drenda Galeotti, 44, who has a 5-year-old in kindergarten at another NYC public school: "I know the phrase 'under God' is what gets people's panties in a bunch, but we need to keep instilling in our kids what makes our country so great."