Should Students Be Required “Pledge” their Allegiance?

Should Students Be Required “Pledge” their Allegiance?


pledge of allegianceI recently visited a high school and was somewhat surprised to be asked to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the reading of the daily announcements. I stood, struggled to find the flag in the room, put my hand over my heart and recited the following words from memory,

“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.”

I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised, given that no less than 47 states have legislation that requires schools to set aside time for the Pledge and some states mandate that students must recite the Pledge.

Brief History: The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892  by Francis Bellamy to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America. It has been tinkered with over the years, but the controversial change came in 1952 when Congress added the words, “under God. ” The last official ruling from the US Supreme Court came in 1943 when the Court ruled that “requiring a person to say the pledge is violating the first and fourteenth amendments.” There is an expectation that someday a case will be heard by the Supreme Court on the legalities of the words, “under God.” To date, no state or superior court has ruled against this phrase.

Case #1: Mason Michalec, a sophomore in a suburb of Houston, Texas was suspended by his principal for not standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. His reasons are not religious, but are based on his opinions of the government and their policies. He says, “I’m really tired of our government taking advantage of us,” Michalec said. “I don’t agree with the NSA spying on us. And I don’t agree with any of those Internet laws.” According to a letter from the principal, he will be suspended an additional 2 days each time he does not recite the Pledge.

Case #2: Chelsea Stanton, a student at Collingswood High School in New Jersey refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance based on religious principle. She stated that she could not stand for something that did not respect her and her atheist views. She was suspended, but it was later over-ruled when the district discovered that the student code of conduct was not in line with state statute.

Author’s Perspective #1:  My main thought is that the laws and statutes on this are confusing for everyone involved. The U.S. Supreme Court says you have the right to not recite the Pledge yet almost all of the states mandate that schools set aside time to recite the pledge. So, when a school enforces a student handbook code to have students recite the pledge, they are just doing what the state politicians require. Of course, when a student refuses to stand or recite the pledge, they have the laws of the land supporting their decision. Seems confusing. I would advocate that the U.S. Supreme Court hear one of these cases so everyone has a clear understanding.

Author’s Perspective #2: I am a patriot and and I think it is important for members of this nation to express their patriotism. Even if I don’t agree with our government on many fronts, I still think democracy and our constitution grant us many rights that are not granted in most nations. I feel good about that. Still, the older I get, the more I tend to fall on the side of civil liberties and individual freedoms. So, to me, I find the solution very simple. Have schools take time to lead students in the Pledge, but students should have the right to respectfully not participate.

Your Turn: Please place your comments below, (2) like and share our Facebook page (character development & leadership) or (3) tweet to @CDandLeadership)

1.Does your school set aside time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? If so, what does it mean to you? What would happen to you if you decided not to stand or recite the pledge?

2. Do you think students should recite the pledge? Be specific about why or why not?

3. If about 80% of our country believes in a Christian God, do you think roughly 20% of the country should be able to get the words, “Under God,” taken out of the pledge?  Why or why not?



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  1. Our elementary school does still recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and I am totally for that. I do not think that we should stop making schools recite the Pledge just because of a few people that don’t think it respects their religious or government views because we are known as a “Nation under God” to many other countries, and to most people in this country.

    1. I believe this country makes it possible for individuals to be free to say or not say anything they wish. Very few governments afford this level of freedom. However, individuals who are citizens of this country should be thankful they live in such a country and show their allegiance and gratitude by reciting the pledge when asked to do so. Maybe they should spend some time in Russia and get a taste of what their lives could be like and develop some level of appreciation for what they have here and show some respect. Further, for those who are not citizens but are afforded the same freedoms as citizens enjoy, I am in favor of them leaving this country and find out what they are losing. Perhaps they will realize that verbalizing their gratitude was not such a bad thing after all.

  2. 1 My school doesn’t recite the pledge of allegiance not in the high school in the elementary.
    2 I think they should ave a choice cause there religion might not want them to or there parents .
    3 yes and no i mean if the whole country votes on it and if taking it out wins then take it out .

  3. 1.) Yes everyday in the morning my school says the Pledge of Allegiance. To me it really does not mean anything to me I just do it, its only about 10 seconds I don’t understand why people find it so hard to just do. Nothing would happen to me if I did not recite the pledge many people in class don’t do it.

    2.) No, I don’t think students should recite the pledge because it is a right we all have to speak or to not speak as well as to not want to do something.

    3.) No, I do not think that the words should be taken out the pledge because they decided on it already and it should stay that way not be changed again just because not everyone agrees with it their will always be disagreements on both sides regardless.

  4. 1) Yes my school recites the Pledge at assemblies. To me, the Pledge shows that we are all part of one country and we are one people. Probably nothing severe would happen if someone did not stand and recite the Pledge.
    2) I would hope that students would want to recite the Pledge to show pride in their country, but I do not think they should be forced to and punished when they do not because they have the right to freedom of speech.
    3) Yes because the Pledge is about reciting facts about our country and something that we all believe in and if 20% of the country do not believe in a god, then it should not be included in an all-inclusive speech.

  5. I think that everyone should recite it because it is part of us, in the elementary school they recite it, but the high school doesn’t. People that don’t want to recite it don’t have to, but some want to. I’m in 10th grade and I think its important to recite it.

  6. Why does everything have to be inclusive constantly? People need to learn that they can’t be included all the time. Life isn’t fair. They need to get over it.

  7. Our middle school does still recite the Pledge, but we have the choice of standing or not. If we do not stand, we don’t get in trouble.

  8. My Middle School still recites the pledge of allegiance but you don’t have to say it or stand, which to me that seems like a fair deal because not everybody is a christian so they don’t want to say the part that says “under god” and I respect that.

  9. I think that the Pledge of Allegiance should be mandatory in schools. The Pledge of Allegiance stands for freedom that our country has faught for. The word allegiance means loyalty: being a citizen of this country means to protect, defend, and be loyal. In side of the Pledge of Allegiance it says we are indivisible, meaning we cannot be divided. The soldiers who have fought for our freedom stand up and recite the pledge with dignity and pride for our country. Students today cannot comprehend how fortunate they are to live in a country like the United States of America. Making the pledge mandatory will not only unite natural-born citizens but make them have a sense of pride in their country. Soldiers willingly give up their lives so that every person in America can have a chance of freedom, to go to school and learn to better their lives and futures. Simply saying the Pledge of Allegiance shows a person’s patriotism. The definition of patriotism is made of many things, one of which being showing respect for one’s country, this can be displayed by serving in the military, being involved in elections, giving back to their community, and at the very least stating one’s allegiance to their country. Although after high school most students will not say the Pledge of Allegiance every day it is still important to have been raised knowing the importance of it and what it stands for, so that in their future they will keep patriotism with them.

    1. My problem with the pledge of allegiance it that it does the exact opposite of what you say. The pledge of allegiance doesn’t mention those who fought for our freedom at all. Congress did feel the need to recognize god in it though. I think instead of reciting the pledge, we could acknowledge our serving men and women. We could say something like:

      I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America, and all of those, who fought for my freedom, to bring liberty and justice to all.

    2. What a wonderful answer. Additionally, I believe, young children should recite the pledge … to instill the words in their memory. Once old enough to make a mature decision whether to ‘take a knee’ or refuse to stand and/or recite is up to the individual, but learning/memorizing the words is best done when young.

    3. i used this info as a counterargument on my essay on why students shouldn’t have to recite the pledge lol thanks hernandez for giving me an A

    4. Although I see where you’re coming from I do have some points I need to make. First off, what if the student in general feels uncomfortable pledging to a flag that simply isn’t theirs. Such as an immigrant student from a foreign country, for example a student from south america, comes to the United States. Whether it be for school, or because their family moves there, or even if they’re brought to the United States through the supporters system by immigration. They shouldn’t be forced to recite or stand up to pledge a flag that just isn’t theirs, it’s something that I for one have seen first hand. Second, getting forced to say and/or do something that someone doesn’t need or want to do violates the First Amendment ( Freedom Of Speech ). Ironic, isn’t it? I understand teaching children to respect and have gratitude for those who fought for our country but, I don’t see anything about those who have served in the pledge. ( 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. ) Also, religion is also a factor as to why students shouldn’t be forced to pledge. What if they don’t believe in the God that the pledge is stating? Or what if they don’t find the pledge to be something that their religion respects? It simply shouldn’t be compulsory, although like I’ve stated before I do see your valid argument, and I respect that.

  10. I believe everyone has a right to there opinion on one hand we live in America, we’re some of the luckiest people. WE should be happy and celebrate the fact that we’re free. But on the other it’s a pledge, there’s no need to say it everyday because we’ve already pledged ourselves to it. Also I have a friend whos religious beliefs prohibit her from saying the pledge of allegiance. Her family moved to America so she wouldn’t have to suck it up and go through the pain of double crossing her religion. I say the pledge everyday and so do many other people because it coincides with their religion or beliefs so the don’t even think about it anymore, but for a second can we think about how are actions affect other people.

    – S.Kirk 6th grade California

  11. There is nothing patriotic about forced patriotism. There is nothing patriotic about forced allegiance. Forced patriotism is nothing but fascism wrapped in a flag. No different from communist China

  12. No, reciting the pledge should not be mandatory. I don’t vilify people who do it but as someone who chooses not to because of my religious beliefs, I don’t appreciate the notion in society that patriotism and reverence to the flag are one and the same, because they’re not. It creates a stigma because it’s not normalized in American society. I don’t cause a disturbance if the pledge is being recited in my presence but I appreciate that I have the right to decide for myself that I don’t wish to participate. The first amendment protects my right to make that decision, and part of being a good citizen means knowing your rights and those of others and advocating for them. Good citizenship doesn’t mean everyone is always going to agree with you. As a child still formulating my political and spiritual identity, I participated in the ritual and thought little of it, just imitating what others around me were doing, as children do. But as I’ve grown and become secure in what I believe in, I don’t anymore, and I don’t observe colors either. I am studying to be a teacher and while I’d expect the school probably would set aside time to recite the pledge each day, teaching reverence for the flag would not be a priority for me, and I’d be cognizant about seeing that there’s no stigma in my classroom associated with not reciting because I want my students to know that we celebrate their differences. I care more about my students being able to advocate for themselves and others than what or who they salute to.

    I don’t care whether or not the under God part gets taken out or not because that’s not the part that bothers me. It bothers me that participation in the ritual would be treating an inanimate object with the same reverence with which I treat God, and changing the wording can’t solve that problem. Not forcing me to participate does.

  13. I don’t personally think the Pledge of Allegiance should be required. 1. The student or person could be from another country and doesn’t want to do the Pledge of Allegiance because it might be against the country. 2. The student or person might not like America or isn’t comfortable saying the Pledge of Allegiance. ETC

    1. Yeah, once in the hallway in school I was going to the bathroom when the pledge came on and there was a kindergartener coming into the bathroom as i was washing my hands. She was so cute and just came up to me all confused and said “Do you think I’m gonna get in trouble when I go back to my class because I am going to the bathroom when (the principle) is saying the Pledge of Allegiance?” She said some other stuff too but I just responded with a simple “No, your going to be fine, I go to the bathroom everytime they say the Pledge of Allegiance.” She was like whaaa.. then just left without even going. It was weird, but yeah i agree, I didn’t want to say yes but I knew she would get in trouble, because I had special permission to go away for the Pledge. I don’t say it but the Kindergarten teachers always make the little kids say it no matter what. I hate that.

  14. As a child, I often pondered exactly why we were meant to recite the pledge in school. I cannot recall that it was ever explained to us… it was merely something we did as Americans to prove our devotion to our country.

    The problem is that many Americans who live in this country do not feel that the US actually stands for what the pledge “pledges”.

    “One nation, under God… with liberty and justice for all.” How can this be so, when everyday our citizens are being killed in cold murder, without any justice?

    That’s just the first thing that comes to mind.
    I myself am multi-racial (Choctaw/Cherokee/Mexican/Irish). As I grew older, I began diving into research of my indigenous roots. I learned the true history of how my ancestors suffered at the hands of creating America… how Catholicism and Christianity were pushed down my ancestors throats, how they were baptized and given new names, how their beautiful sacred braids were chopped off to appear less “savage,” and how, in the name of God, the children were stolen away from their families and murdered to save their souls.

    So no, I will not pledge my allegiance to a country who performed such monstrosities against other human beings… a country who still continues to treat its own citizens like garbage.

    I stand up when the pledge is recited out of respect for our veterans, but I do not place my hand over my heart, nor do I recite the words.

    1. Just out of curiosity, how are citizens today being “killed in cold murder?”

      And yes, what pioneers did to Native Americans was cruel, but it’s not like our country does that now. In fact, that was before our country ever started.

      I understand what you’re getting at, but you shouldn’t ignore what brave men and women have done for our country just because our ancestors, who weren’t even United States citizens, were cruel to Native Americans.

    2. I know that our country has done bad things, I also had Native American ancestors, but I don´t think we should judge the modern pledge based on this. The pledge wasn´t even written until after the trail of tears. I like to think that modern America is trying to make up for those mistakes now.

  15. My school still has to recite the pledge of allegiance. I like it because it proves that we still respect the people who protect us every day and the people that work so hard.

  16. My school does say the pledge every morning but I am a Jehovah’s Witness so I do not recite the pledge. The teachers are fine with that. At least they were at my elementary school, I am doing virtual learning now for middle school so I don’t really know what they would do if I didn’t stand. I don’t think students should recite the pledge. When you say the pledge, you are literally pledging your allegiance to a piece of fabric. Even if the flag represents the US, your still saying this to a material thing. No offense, but I think it is ridiculous. I don’t really have an opinion when it comes to taking the words “Under God” out or not. It doesn’t affect me in any way so don’t care that much. If I did say the pledge though, I would want those words taken out. It, in a way, disrespects people of certain religions.

  17. i think that everyone should stand for the pledge and say it if they are from a different country them thats their choice a lot of people fought for the freedom that they have they should know that moving into a different country would come with some things such as the pledge so i think schools should be required to stand and say the pledge

  18. I think the pledge should not be said in schools, period. My thoughts on it are these: kids start saying this thing when they don’t even know half the words, let alone can understand the meaning behind them. Think about it: if one is to take the pledge seriously, as a true oath of allegiance, isn’t such an important decision a bit too big for a six-year-old to make consciously? This person might later on choose to immigrate, or come to dislike the government, or whatnot. Then again, what good is an oath that has to be touched up every day? Imagine someone suggested
    that reciting your wedding vows every day with your partner would improve your relationship. That’s just absurd, because these meaningful, beautiful and serious words would lose their meaning from the repetition (look up semantic satiation); moreover, the fact that you constanty remind yourself of your promise implies that you were dishonest or not serious the first time. This same thing happens with the pledge. It has no meaning; no one expects you to actually act on these words in any way; it is in the best case useless and in the worst brainwashing. Things like the pledge create either apathy or mindless, fanatic patriotism. I think that a much better tactic for inspiring true patriotism is studying amrican history, literature, art, and music. True patriotism is a real undestanding of America and american culture is, an undestanding of what it is that unites us into a country. The pledge does nothing for this.

  19. I think students should recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I also think that civics classes should be restored to schools, that is “The Golden Rule” and all its implications. Students should be required to get a passing grade in their civics class to be promoted.

  20. 1. My school sets aside time for a daily Pledge of allegiance. To me, the pledge is a perpetuation of a false hope. Although the school fails to remind students of their right to opt out of the pledge, I have not faced disciplinary action for my refusal. At worst, I was harassed by one of my teachers, although his intent likely was not malicious. In some classes, few cared enough to stand.

    2. I have no beliefs as to whether students should say the pledge, beyond my favoring of my own beliefs. However, I believe that schools which organise the saying of the pledge must, in order to be in the legal and moral right, remind students of their right to abstain from saluting, pledging to, or standing for the flag. I personally condemn policies which mandate parental contact for exemptions, and I will never stand for those staff members who engage in violence to quash political dissidence.

    3. To be honest, the pledge just flows better without the “Under God” clause wasting three syllables. Before they had that clause, the greater portion was just “One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” They literally divided “One nation indivisible” just to cram a religious preference. Even if I was a Christian Nationalist, I would probably still support removing the “Under God” reference from the pledge.

  21. Our school does recite the pledge, you have to stop in the halls when it starts. I don’t recite the pledge though. And i’m not blinded by the glorified history of our country, we are not better than any other country. In fact, we are worse.

  22. my school does the pledge and i can live with it and we don’t get in trouble if we don’t do it and i believe that under god should be removed because some people are in different religions and follow 1 god so what is the point of under god if they follow many gods.

  23. 1. Yes my school recties the pledge
    2. I think that students should have the right to decide if they want to recite the pledge or if they shouldn’t
    3. Most likely not.

    In “The Land of The Free” everyone should have the right to do what they choose. INCLUDING same sex marriages. In my opinon you can’t just take away the right of people cause you dont like the way THEY live THEIR LIVES. It has NOTHING to do with YOU.

  24. 1.Yes, my school reserves time to recite the pledge. The truth is that the pledge seems to me simply an oath that is said before starting classes. I say this because most South American countries also have one. Nothing would happen if I do not recite the pledge, since I think it is optional, because I do not recite it and I have no consequence, however it should be noted that I stand up, look at the flag and respectfully remain silent.

    2. The students should recite the pledge since it is a good way to demonstrate their patriotism and loyalty to the country and it seems to me that the students have the right to choose whether to say it or not since they may not agree with the pledge for religious or personal reasons. At the end of it all it is only fair that they are given the right to respectfully opt out.

    3. I would say that the decision to remove or maintain the words “Under God”. This decision will be decided by popular sovereignty because even though they are a minority, they have the right to have an opinion on the oath and not say it because they are from different religions. But above all the constitution strictly dictates that the country cannot have a fixed religion for the country, nor can it favor one religion more than another, therefore they have the right to ask for a change since it is unconstitutional.

  25. Yes, every morning before the announcements we stand and recite the pledge of allegiance and then we continue with our classes. For me it doesn’t mean anything just something normal that everyone does. I think that nothing would happen if I decide not to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance.

    I feel like students shouldn’t recite the pledge of allegiance because they may not feel comfortable or just don’t want to say it.

    No because the 20% they can just not say the words “Under God” because there are more people that supports it than people that don’t.

  26. Yes, my school does say the Pledge of Allegiance every day in the mornings. Yes, it also means something to me it means that every day after I recite the pledge of allegiance I have freedom in this country because of the soldiers trying to save this country. What would happen if I didn’t recite the pledge or stand up is I think nothing will happen because my first-period class has students who aren’t from here and they still stand up but don’t really recite the pledge.

  27. 1.Yes, my school reserves time to recite the pledge. The truth is that the pledge seems to me simply an oath that is said before starting classes. I say this because most South American countries also have one. Nothing would happen if I do not recite the pledge since I think it is optional, because I do not recite it and I have no consequence, however it should be noted that I stand up, look at the flag and respectfully remain silent.

    2. The students should recite the pledge since it is a good way to demonstrate their patriotism and loyalty to the country, anyway it seems to me that the students have the right to choose whether to say it or not since they may not agree with the pledge for religious or personal reasons. At the end of it all it is only fair that they are given the right to respectfully opt out.

    3. I would say that the decision to remove or maintain the words “Under God” will have to be decided by popular sovereignty. Because even if they are a minority, they have the right to be able to comment on the oath and not say it because they are of different religions. But above all, the constitution strictly dictates that the United States cannot have a fixed religion for the country, nor can it favor one religion over another, therefore they have the right to request a change since it is unconstitutional.

  28. 1. Yes, for this school, reserving the time to recite the loyalty oath is very important at the beginning of classes. For me this situation is not very important because I am not an American citizen, but I decide to stand up and show the respect that any hymn, song and oath in each country deserves because that shows my education and my values. If I decide not to stand up, nothing will happen to me, it would only be disrespectful to the oath.
    2. In my opinion, they should recite the loyalty oath, because they show patriotism towards their country, because they were born in it and they have to have respect for the country that could give them benefits, freedom, rights, since not in all countries in which people are born are like that.
    3. In my opinion they should not recite the words “Under God” of the oath, because it is only a religion which does not believe in God. But just not to recite those words, it is not necessary to ask to be removed from the oath because not everyone is of that religion.

  29. My school is always reciting the pledge. It doesn’t really mean anything to me, and if decide not to do it nothing should happen because i’m not doing anything disrespectful to make a teacher mad or get sent to the office.
    I think if students decide not to the pledge they should be fine because they might have another religion but if they are being disrespectful then they should get sent to the office.
    The words “ Under God” should not be taken because we’re not making people with different region say the pledge and were being respectful to them and they should be respectful back to the people that don’t have a problem saying it by just standing up and not saying it.

  30. In my school, we say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. For me I think that it is tiring saying it every morning and for me, I said it for 9 years. I think that students shouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. In classes, some students are from different countries and have different sayings. They also have the right not to say it if they don’t want to. If 80% of the countries believe in God, I think that 20% of the counties should not say under god if they don’t believe in God. Some schools worldwide don’t even have one and they have the right not to say it to have it. I think that people can take out “Under God” if they don’t want say it.

  31. I’m in high school and attend a homeschool co-op, and we do not set time aside for the pledge, although I believe we should do it for events. We learn about the government and historical events but do not recite the pledge during lunch or class.

  32. They should take out the under god because if America is supposed to be a land of the free you should be able to respect your own beliefs like the First Amendment states.