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What Does The Pledge of Allegiance Mean?

The pledge of allegiance is and always will be a controversial topic. With the increasing focus on inclusiveness based on linguistics, race, gender, and religion trying to find a balance can sometimes be difficult for advocates on both sides of the aisle.

The end of the school year is a stressful time for teacher because we have so much to do. It’s not unusual for teachers to bump heads at the end of the school year because our patience has worn thin. For example, our 5th grade team was practicing for our awards/promotion ceremony. Since our student population is about 90% Hispanic we echo parts of the ceremony in Spanish. This is not a big deal or anything new.

Well this year a teacher who is new the campus says, “I think that we should say The Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish too.” My response was that all of the programs at the school say the pledge in English. As you may have already guessed, she didn’t agree with my response. So, she makes the statement, “This is a dual language school.” Needless to say the conversation quickly went down hill and ended with me saying, “This is and English speaking country.”

When I said that all hell broke loose! She ran off to the principal’s office to tell on me as if I said something wrong. I wasn’t concerned at all about her telling the principal what I said (which she often did all year) but it made me wonder when did saying that America is an English speaking country became offensive?

I know some teachers will not agree with me and that’s okay. I don’t agree with any country’s pledges or national songs being recited or sang in any language other than the original language that it was written. I’m all for inclusiveness, however I feel like there has to be boundaries. I posed the question about reciting the pledge in other languages to English speakers and English speakers of other languages. These are some of the responses that I received.

  • That would be like translating the Mexican pledge and reciting it in English.
  • It takes away the meaning of the pledge.
  • That makes no sense.
  • People should be allowed to say the pledge in their own language

The beauty of this conversation is that as educators we can have meaningful discussion about The Pledge of Allegiance as it pertains to students. Outside of what we all think or feel about America and The Pledge of Allegiance it has meaning and it represents the United States.

After having this conversation about The Pledge of Allegiance I realized that our students should understand what they are saying when they recite the pledge of allegiance. That’s the beauty of being an educator, we can always find a lesson in the most controversial or insignificant conversations.

Welcome to the 3 E’s Blogging Collaborative. On the last weekend of each month, my fellow educators and I will be telling our classroom stories about our explorations of empathy, empowerment, and equity with our students. It is our mission to explore these topics together, but also to provide FREE ideas and materials for others wishing to do the same. We hope to build a bank of materials and ideas to support these classroom endeavors. We also hope you’ll be stopping by again to engage in the conversation. Check out the other members of the collaborative below to continue this month’s conversation and benefit from even more resource

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