An Atlanta charter school announced Tuesday that students would no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and administrators are looking to replace it with an alternate “school pledge.”
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School administrators reportedly made the change to encourage students to start the 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 or recite the pledge,” Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School elementary campus president Lara Zelski said in a statement.
Administrators are nixing the morning Pledge of Allegiance in favor of an alternative “school pledge,” and will continue to require its students to stand for the school’s Wolf Pack Chant, according to Zelski’s statement.
“Teachers and the K-5 leadership team will be working with students to create a school pledge that we can say together at morning meeting,” Zelski said.
Zelski claims the “school pledge” would allow students to focus on their “civic responsibility to their school family, community, country and our global society,” and students would have the opportunity to recite the nation’s pledge in class at other points during the school day.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1943 case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that students are not required to stand for the pledge, schools like Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School are seeking to do away with the pledge altogether because of an increasing number of students refusing to stand for the pledge or the national anthem.
Many of the youth refusing to stand for the pledge and the national anthem in school are looking to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whom many young people see as a role model, for inspiration because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem.
In September 2016, a Texas middle schooler inspired by Kaepernick kneeled during the pledge to protest an unsung third verse in the national anthem that mentions slavery, and in November of that same year, a group of California high school students sat out the national anthem during a school event to protest Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election.
But some teachers who disagree with administrators and students’ decisions have been fired or arrested for taking a stand against those who choose to sit out the pledge. A Colorado middle school teacher was arrested in February on charges of child abuse and third-degree assault for allegedly grabbing a student by the jacket to make him stand for the pledge.
Other teachers have faced less-severe consequences. A Detroit-area teacher was placed on administrative leave in September 2017 for allegedly using physical force to make a student stand for the pledge, and a driver’s education teacher in Chicago had been fired in April for refusing to teach a student who did not want to stand for the pledge.