The Sioux Falls School Board declined last night to require high school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day in class. The board's reasoning: the high schoolers are too busy!
“At the high school level, there isn’t always an opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day. They don’t have homeroom, but they do have assemblies, and the principals that were in the discussion with us, talked about the assemblies and how it’s a much more somber moment during their assemblies when every one is in the room,” board member Kate Parker said.
“It doesn’t reflect a lack of our appreciation or respect for all that our veterans do, it’s just the logistics of the high school day” [Beth Wischmeyer, "Board: Reciting Pledge Daily in High Schools Not Practical," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.11.13].
Bonk! Wrong answer, Ms. Parker. If "not enough time in the school day" were the best reason for not requiring certain activities, we wouldn't have pep rallies, staff meetings on Common Core, or other time-wasting interruptions to the work of the classroom. Heck, we wouldn't even have lunch; we'd just deliver pizza or burgers and fries to the classroom and keep the kids working right over the noon hour, just like a lot of teachers do.
The right answer is that, especially among students approaching adulthood and voting age, the school board should not support compelled speech. The honorable veterans who made time to ask the board to impose this patriotic exercise said all they wanted was "ten seconds a day" to require their preferred form of speech. The brevity of the compelled speech is irrelevant; it's still compelled. It takes me less than a second to say "under God," but it offends my liberty and the First Amendment to require me or anyone else to declare my subjection to a divine entity of questionable existence and intent.
Besides, as we all know, the Pledge of Allegiance is really just socialist propaganda used to sell flags. You don't want your kids reciting socialism for just ten seconds a day, do you?
Alas, no one on the Sioux Falls School Board chose to have that fight last night. The school board also to amend their Pledge policy to reflect the current practice of requiring elementary and middle school students to recite the Pledge every day.