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Pledge Policy Stirs Controversy



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Honoring our flag and our country is something we all grow up learning. But on Tuesday, the Sioux Falls School Board made a decision that has caused an unexpected reaction.
 
Students in elementary and middle schools in the Sioux Falls School District have always said the Pledge of Allegiance. On Tuesday however, the school board updated the 'Flag Displays and Patriotic Activities' policy, formally requiring middle school students to say the pledge. The decision to leave out Sioux Falls' three high schools however, has some questioning the board’s actions.

In the second period of each day at Lennox High School, students stand, put their hands on their hearts, and pay tribute to the red, white, and blue.      

“I think it’s important that everybody realize the sacrifices our military have made for the freedoms that we have,” Tim Raabe, Principal of Lennox High School said.
 
Raabe said as far as he can remember all students, kindergarten through twelfth grade in the district, have recited the pledge.
     
“(It's) to honor those that have made sacrifices for us to give us the freedoms we have," Raabe said.
     
Several other school districts in the surrounding area like Lennox, say the pledge daily as well. Those include Huron, Mitchell, Harrisburg, Aberdeen, Beresford, Yankton, and Hartford. Those that have their high schools only say the pledge at assemblies or special gathering are, Sioux Falls, Watertown, Vermillion, Brookings, and Tea.
    
Rapid City doesn't require it at any grade level.  

Raabe said he can understand the challenges that come with requiring the Pledge of Allegiance in a high school. He said schedules are all different and in some cases there aren't home rooms. But Raabe said he feels it’s worth it pay tribute to those who have served.

"I think that there is learning experience," Raabe said.

Raabe said he feels that sometimes students, especially younger ones, might not fully understand the importance of the pledge. So he said that's why it’s important older students, like those in high school, say it as well.

“It's certainly something that should be instilled, and should be continued throughout schools, so that we do recognize our flag and that it's a symbol of our freedom," Raabe said.

On Tuesday board members said after talking with principals, they learned that when high school students say the pledge at school assemblies it means more. Board members also said they mean no disrespect to those who have served our country.

Critics feel that the pledge is incompatible with democracy and freedom. They suggest that pledges of allegiance are features of totalitarian states, like Nazi Germany.


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