School Pressured to Reverse Pledge Allegiance Mandate

( – Controversy arose after a public elementary school in Mount Airy, Maryland sent an email announcing that it was required by school policy for both teachers and students to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

In April, the administration for the Twin Ridge Elementary School in Frederick County, Maryland included a message in their weekly newsletter that said according to the Maryland Education Code, all teachers and students are required to “stand and face the flag” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The school quickly received pushback from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit organization that focuses on free speech. FIRE cited the First Amendment, issuing a demand that the administration retract the requirement and state that anyone is allowed to opt out of reciting the Pledge if they so desire.

Stephanie Jablonsky, a Senior Program Officer at FIRE, explained that all Americans have the First Amendment right to express themselves or not express themselves as they choose, including refusing to salute to the flag. She stated that forced acts of patriotism are not “patriotism at all.”

Following the pushback, the school sent another email on May 31 to state that any member of the Twin Ridge community who “wishes to be excused” from the requirement that they stand and face the flag to recite the Pledge will not be required to participate. FIRE commended the school for reversing their course from compelling students to participate and allowing members of the community to make their own decision about whether they want to participate.

Some parents, including Kathleen Champion, said she was “not surprised” that the school reversed their position after pushback, but added that she didn’t understand why any American would have an issue with reciting the Pledge. In an interview, she said most students are unaware of the reasons to stand for the Pledge, especially following protests of people who would kneel for the national anthem.

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