“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
These words will no longer ring out in a morning recitation at the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School — an educational institution servicing grades kindergarten through to the eighth grade — according to Fortune. Given the recent flaps over the politics of nationalism and patriotism — which saw NFL players take a knee and NFL fans respond with mixed reviews and a substantial decline in viewership, according to Sports Illustrated — it seems quite likely that the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School could find itself as the new frontline in a new partisan battlefield.
Elementary campus principal Lara Zelski made the case for the decision quite plain in a public letter addressed to the family and friends of the school.
“This decision was made in an effort to begin our day as a fully inclusive and connected community. Over the past couple of years it has become increasingly obvious that more and more of our community were choosing to not stand and/or recite the pledge.”
The letter goes on to point out that there will be a time allotted in classrooms later on in the day for individual students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance should they elect to do so, and that a school chant will replace the pledge as a matter of morning routine. The missive from Zelski also elaborates on the nature of the school’s pedagogical commitment to their students, allowing for an inclusive, tolerant environment and emphasizing the nature of choice in the educational environment for both teachers and pupils.
The decision to stop reciting the pledge will bear political connotations despite the protestations or best intentions of administrators and is sure to draw protest and social media furor. The current political climate is one where patriotism and nationalism bogeymen to some and signals of virtue to others. With many Americans showing a sense of flagging patriotism due to their disapproval of President Trump and his administration, according to The Independent, particularly Democratic voters, the question of how resonant the icons of the American mythos are in 2018 remains to be seen.
The time-honored credo, which has long stood as the traditional start to the school day, has been a part of American tradition for a very long time, having first been published in 1892 in the juvenile magazine The Youth’s Companion, according to CNN. The Pledge of Allegiance has gone through several revisions and was officially recognized by the United States federal government in 1942.
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) August 9, 2018
Several court challenges have been lobbied against various aspects of the Pledge of Allegiance, from the claim that the addition of the words “under God” make the reading discriminatory against those with atheistic beliefs to the very fact that being required to recite the pledge may infringe on an individual’s freedom of thought, conscience, and expression.