Nine of 10 Kentuckians support a state legislative proposal to mandate that public schools set aside time each day to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.
SB 15, called the Kentucky School Patriot Act, sponsored by Sen. Vernie McGaha, R-Russell Springs, is before the Senate Education Committee. It doesn’t require that students actually say the pledge, but they must stand or sit quietly and “respect the rights of those pupils electing to participate.”
But what about respecting the rights of those students who elect not to participate? Must the schools embarrass them by making it obvious to all that they are not reciting the pledge while everyone else is?
The issue here is respect for children’s religious rights. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that requiring public school students to recite the pledge violated the First Amendment rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who considered the pledge a form of idolatry. Other rulings since have muddied the issue. But whether or not it is ultimately decided that it’s constitutional, should schools be in the position of shaming children who, because their beliefs are different from mine or yours, don’t want to recite the pledge?
I wish our legislators would pledge to spend their time on real education issues.