Fight over Pledge of Allegiance in Poway leads to rewrit - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Fight over Pledge of Allegiance in Poway leads to another rewrite

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POWAY (CBS 8) - Parents are taking a stand against a policy asking students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in a Poway middle school.

Some parents claim that what the principal was saying before the pledge at Twin Peaks Middle School was encouraging anti-American attitudes and apathy among the kids.

Beginning Friday, all classes in the Poway Unified School District will be invited over a PA system to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with the following announcement:

You are now invited to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Ready, begin.

"They had been saying If you'd like to participate, please stand. That invited kids to be apathetic. We prefer that it just be an invitation,"

Before that, the announcement included the directive to those students choosing not to participate, "Others, please stand or sit quietly," which some argued encouraged kids to sit out of the pledge. That wording had infuriated many parents, who called for the new change.

"It's not a choice - it is your responsibility to stand up and respect your flag and your country. Stand up, respect the flag and keep your mouth shut," one parent said.

Some students also had opinions.

"I believe you are supposed to respect that flag," a student said.

But the issue, from a legal perspective, is more complicated, as the state education code requires all public schools to offer a patriotic exercise every school day, which reciting the Pledge of Allegiance satisfies. It's a requirement that must be balanced by the Supreme Court's interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

"This policy is reasonable and fair, meeting the law and is in the best interest of our students and parents," a board member said.

It's a policy that leaders say still preserves every student's right not to say the pledge.

"It will be the responsibility of every teacher in every classroom to ensure that individual choices are respected," a board member said.

No one spoke in opposition to the new change at Monday night's board meeting. At last month's school board meeting, one father did speak up, saying the district was right to remind students the pledge is optional, adding, "we have to respect opposing beliefs".

The superintendent of Poway schools has instructed all principals to begin instituting this new change to the Pledge of Allegiance announcement by this Friday.

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