Press "Enter" to skip to content

Sioux Falls Requires Pledge of Allegiance at All Grade Levels: Bullies Win!

The Sioux Falls School Board taught us all a lesson in bullying this week. They taught us to let bullies win.

Earlier this month, the board caught heck for not going far enough in forcing students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. On November 12, the board wrote into policy an ongoing practice of requiring elementary and middle school students to say the Christian socialist flag-selling line daily. They declined to expand that policy to high schoolers, citing the incorrect and spineless answer that high schoolers are too busy rather than seizing the teachable moment and telling patrio-pietists that compelled speech is unconstitutional.

KELO and FOX News misrepresented that decision as a vote to ban the Pledge, and folks with nothing better to do went ape. School board members received death threats and other unconscionable calls and e-mails.

And Monday night, the school board gave in to that bullying and made the Pledge mandatory at all grade levels.

Well, not quite. The Sioux Falls School District covers its constitutional backside with the passive voice and a conscience clause. The policy now reads "The Pledge of Allegiance or other patriotic activity will be performed each day in Sioux Falls School District classrooms." It does not say by whom. Technically, a teacher could mutter the words herself on arrival, before kids get to class, and fulfill the letter of that policy.

The board also protects students who resist compelled speech:

Anyone who does not wish to participate in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or patriotic activity for any personal reasons may elect not to do so. Students and school personnel must respect another person’s right to make that choice [Sioux Falls School District, Policy IMDB-R, revised 2013.11.25].

Imposing that onerous choice on students is still unfair. Some kids have the nerve to stand up to conformist pressure. But the school has no business creating more conformist pressure and dumping it in kids' laps to protect their own constitutional liberty against possible bullying. If certain adults are capable of making irrational threats against school board members for not passing a policy on the Pledge, certain children are capable of teasing and bullying fellow students who choose to stand out from the crowd by not performing a patriotic spectacle to prove their loyalty. The Sioux Falls School Board's pledge policy

This blog exists to tell bullies that they will not win. The Sioux Falls School Board should have the same goal. The Sioux Falls failed to uphold that goal this week.

p.s.: The Sioux Falls School Board opens each meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. I wonder what would happen if a school board member chose not to mouth those words in unison with his or her elected fellows.

pp.s.: The Sioux Falls School Board did show a little common sense Monday when it backed off its proposal to ban teachers from watching their own kids in their classrooms after school.


  1. interested party 2013.11.27

    Looks like just another South Dakota parade of horribles: makes me wish i'd have gone to law school.

  2. chris 2013.11.27

    A big Bellamy salute to all those brave men who showed up to bully the school board. Great patriots all, the likes of which we have not seen since the great Charles Lindbergh.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.27

    Larry, you'd have made a fun lawyer. There's still time for a second (fourth? eighth?) career....

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.11.27

    Chris, how many fingers to I see raised on your Bellamy-Saluting hand? ;-)

  5. Donald Pay 2013.11.27

    RC Board of Education started their meetings with the pledge. I had no problem with it. I said the original pledge, leaving out the words "under God." I did this without fanfare, and no one noticed.

    I don't have that much of a problem with the pledge. It's a leftist mantra, after all, and contradicts much of righty ideology. I do question whether this leftist mantra ought to be indoctrinated into our children. I don't like indoctrination and brainwashing in our schools, whether it's done by the left or the right. What's funny is that the right is so dumb it doesn't realize it is reciting leftist dogma.

    Even the words "under God" are pretty harmless. If you believe God doesn't exist, well, those words are just nonsense syllables, like "Underdog," which some older kids used to substitute for "under God."

    The media's part in this is pretty telling. Creating a kerfuffle over something inconsequential to boost ratings just shows how brain dead the local media has become.

  6. Jerry 2013.11.27

    Fascism won a huge battle in Sioux Falls and we are less for it.

  7. owen reitzel 2013.11.27

    Too bad that these same people who were screaming about the Pledge of Alliance don't have the same passion for kids who are losing Food Stamps thanks to Kristi NOem and show the same anger for people who are against the ACA (Tea Party).
    You've got a possible scandal going on with the EB5 and the media puts there efforts into non-stories like this.

  8. Douglas Wiken 2013.11.27

    Some people seem to believe they own the flag as if it is their patented or copyright logo or motto.

  9. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.27


    Those tea party people think only Democrats are facist.

    I kind of think they didn't look up the meaning of the word or experienced true facism.

  10. Joan Brown 2013.11.27

    Owen, I agree with you.

  11. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.11.27

    The amazing part of the Pledge, is those who insist that it be said at all levels of public discourse, are the first one to disregard the final line of the pledge, "with liberty and justice for all".

  12. interested party 2013.11.27

    ...and the secessionists forced to embrace the 'indivisible' part should eat every word with ketchup.

  13. Bill Dithmer 2013.11.27

    Back when I was growing up here on Pass Creek, we went to a little country school a mile east of the house. And yes I did walk when it was nice enough but only after my mom determined that I had earned that right.

    Back then it was common practice not only to say the pledge but to learn how to handle the flag. Every year a veteran spent the first three days coming in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

    He showed us the proper way to honor the flag by the way we unfolded it, raised it, and then said the pledge in the morning. When the weather wasn't to bad, and that meant not snowing to hard with wind blowing somewhere under forty miles an hour, and never in the rain, every kid in that school stood around that flag and watched it go up that flag pole.

    Then in the afternoon he would come back to show us how to take the flag down, fold it, and put it in its safe place, a cabinet at the back of the school room.

    Every kid, no matter if they were in the first grade or the eight, went into the rotation to take care of that flag. We even had an old sheet that was the same size as the flag that we would practice folding. If a kid was to small to fold the flag without it touching the ground he or she still got to carry it to or from the school house. It was a source of pride to know that you did it right, edges clean, never touching the ground, and the stars in the right place when you were through.

    I might add here that those of us that were young then were twenty years closer to the war that was supposed to end all wars WWII. That pledge was what we said to honor those people that died and served so we could live the way we did.

    Then I started to high school in Kadoka. I will never forget the shock of walking into the superintendents office and seeing the flag balled up on his desk at the end of the day. No pledge and nobody honoring the flag.

    Now I will move ahead to the seventies. My uncle had an old friend that he served with in WWII. They were in the First Special Service Force, "The Devils Brigade" together. This friend by that time was a retired full bird Colonel and would come out every year to hunt birds with us. I loved the time we got to spend with this man when he came because it was only then that my uncle Cars would talk about what they did in the war, both the good times and the bad.

    I will never forget something that changed my life. We were watching the news on TV and saw a bunch of people burning the flag in a protest of the Vietnam war. My uncle said "isn't that a damn shame that they would ever do such a thing."

    The Colonel said something that I will always remember at times like this. "Carson the things we fought for in the war are the reasons that we have to respect what those people are trying to say now. We might not like it but we fought for the freedom of speech that we all have. That freedom is like a knife with two edges. On the on side is freedom of speech, on the other is the freedom to not ever be forced to say anything we don't want to say."

    I suspect that he was talking about an indoctrination of some kind in Germany, but it could just as easily have been the pledge.

    I started to look at life a lot differently after that. Not because I changed my mind about the flag or the pledge, but because I understood there might be others that didn't think the same way as I did. That is their right as Americans, and no other country allows such liberties.

    The Blindman

  14. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.11.27

    Great essay Blindman. I wrote a letter to Senator Thune after one of his crusades to have a bill to outlaw burning the flag. I told him that if he was willing to give up the Supreme Court's ruling that money (in elections) was speech, I would be willing to give up that burning the flag was speech. I like I am sure, you do not like to see the flag burned to this day but I agree with their right to burn it. I served also for that right. I am more disturbed when I see the flag worn as a piece of clothing or painted on a car or flying day or night in all types of weather and unlighted at night, or left up so long that it is tattered and worn. That is just as, if not more so, disrespectful of the flag as burning it.

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.28

    Blindman, my grade school experience was very similar.

    After the second grade my country school closed so we went to the Big Town School. Instead of 9 students in the entire school, I joined a class of 12! (From Sunbeam one room school to St. Lawrence Grade School, St. Lawrence, SD, population 800.)

    At St. Lawrence all students witnessed the flag raising every morning. The big kids, 7-8 grades, got to take care of the flag. I think it was in 4-H that I learned all the flag rules. Or it might have been YCL, Young Citizens League. Schools taught citizenship in a variety of ways. It was important.

    I began grade school in 1958, 15 years post-WWII.

  16. interested party 2013.11.28

    E pleb neesta.

  17. Les 2013.11.28

    It was something of an honor to pass the grade into being chosen to care for the flag in country school 1957. Possibly how easily we were confused. Pleasure came from anything that wasn't work, something most kids now don't understand. Where do we honor anything today?

  18. John 2013.11.28

    The quickest way to end this nonsense is in the students hands. If classrooms of them would take and distribute photos and videos of them saying the pledge with the Bellamy salute the school board, city, and state would be so ridiculed and embarrassed it would stop.

  19. grudznick 2013.11.28

    Are you a Kohm, Larry, or am I?

  20. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.11.28

    I have to take exception to one thing you said: "Pleasure came from anything that wasn't work, something most kids now don't understand. Where do we honor anything today?"

    I see a preponderance of reliable, ethical, earnest, hardworking young people today. I see some who are not, but they are a minority. Remember, it's always the trouble makers who make the news.

    I feel like our future is in pretty good hands. The young people and the children are decent people. I've got their backs as they begin getting their feet under them and launch into their adulthoods.


  21. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.28


    I would have to agree, there are young people working hard toward their dreams and there are plenty of them.

    My guess is that Les's preceding generation said the same thing about him being lazy as he says about this one.

  22. Les 2013.11.28

    I think you took something from my statement other than what I said Deb. I said nothing of trouble makers. I said they know little of the work from my childhood generation as I know little of the work that came before my generation. I ran heavy equipment, my dad and his father ran a hand shovel. Possibly my definition of work is different than yours.
    My conclusion of honor has more to do with the adults than children.
    Unfortunately I see a preponderance of young males continuing to fall out of the ranks leaving their young females to carry not only the family load but the financial load as well. I am not gloating over this Deb.

  23. Les 2013.11.28

    Thanks Roger, you have me completely figured out. A perfect mind like yours must be a real burden as you cope with so many of lesser ability!

  24. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.28

    You're most welcome Les.

Comments are closed.