School's Foreign-language pledge draws protest

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Mar 11 13:53:38 UTC 2005

>>From the Annapolis Capital,

School's foreign language Pledge draws protest

By RYAN BAGWELL, Staff Writer

Monday it was Spanish. Tuesday it was French. Yesterday it was Russian,
and this morning it was Korean. At Old Mill High School, the morning
Pledge of Allegiance was recited over the public address system in foreign
languages each day this week. To Charles Linton, that's just plain

"I ain't gonna stand up and pledge my allegiance to the United States in
any foreign language," said a furious Mr. Linton, who pulled his
ninth-grade son, Patrick, out of class this morning. The practice
celebrates National Foreign Language week, Old Mill Assistant Principal
Mary Lappe said, and has been done at the school for years.

But Mr. Linton called it an unpatriotic display. He won't send Patrick
back to school until Monday, unless the school restores the pledge to
English. "We got people in a war right now," said Patrick, 15. "It's not
right." School officials said reciting the Pledge in foreign tongues will
continue as planned this week.

"I think it's a good-faith effort on the part of the school to recognize
the diversity of the student body," said Kenneth P. Lawson, school system
deputy superintendent. "I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing." Board
of Education policy expressly says the Pledge should be recited each
morning, with teachers and students standing to face the flag. The policy
explicitly says it should be recited in English.

"I think if they took this action on a regular and routine basis we'd
probably want to take a look at the policy, but since it's only happening
for a week, I don't think that violates the spirit of the policy," Mr.
Lawson said. Mr. Linton disagreed, saying it's an offensive practice that
should be halted immediately.

"I compare it with wearing a cross to church upside down," he said.
Patrick's unease apparently caught on during yesterday's Pledge. "I sat
down, and when I sat down, one other kid sat down, and I looked behind me
and three other kids sat down," Patrick said.

Board policy says students and teachers can excuse themselves from
participation in the morning flag salute. But it also states, "any
individual who commits an act of disrespect, either by word or action, is
in violation of the intent of this section." Mr. Linton pledged to do
whatever it takes to stop the foreign language observation of the Pledge
before tomorrow's recitation.

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