Pledge debate goes to court

Texas AG defends law requiring schoolchildren to say pledge after teen is kicked out of school

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton smiles during his pretrial hearing at Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas, on February 16, 2017. Photo by Jae S. Lee/Dallas Morning News/TNS

The Pledge of Allegiance has been a source of controversy ever since its creation. These debates have continued on into the present day.

Recently, India Landry, a 17-year-old Windfern High School senior, was expelled for refusing to stand for the pledge. The school is just outside of Houston, TX, where state law states that, in order for students to be excused from standing for the pledge, they must have a written consent form filled out by their parents.

Missouri law, on the other hand, requires that all schools that receive public funding  ensure “The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America is recited in at least one scheduled class of every pupil enrolled in that school no less often than once per school day.” It does not require that students stand for or recite the Pledge.

The high school’s policy is to follow the state policy.

Students had varying opinions on the saying of the Pledge.

Junior Joi Johnson does not stand for the Pledge. “The ‘justice for all’ part, I don’t really think that’s true,” Johnson said.

Johnson talked about the habit that doing the Pledge has caused: “I feel like I’ve been brainwashed for the Pledge.”

Johnson also stated her feelings about others who stand for the Pledge. “If that’s what they want, I don’t really care. I am in a different position than they are,” Johnson said.

This was a sentiment echoed by other students. “Whether or not I agree with their beliefs is irrelevant,” freshman Andrew Bacon said.

Bacon, who stands for the Pledge, was more frustrated with a different group: “There’s a lot of people [who don’t stand] because they’re too lazy.”

Bacon stands for the Pledge “because of the many people, men and women, who have died for our sovereignty.”

Junior Tommy Koelling also stands for the Pledge. “I believe it’s the right thing to do,” Koelling said.

Standing for the Pledge of Allegiance continues to be a divisive issue with a variety of opinions. However, students at the high school are tolerant of the way others’ feel on the subject.

In an ECHO poll, almost all of the 91 respondents said participation was each individual’s choice.

“I think everyone has the right to stand up for what they believe in,” one respondent who sits for the Pledge said.

Students in the poll also suggested the Pledge be moved back to once a week.

If we went back to once a week, then I think more people would stand,” one respondent who stands for the Pledge said. However, to do this would require a change in the law.

The Pledge of Allegiance issue continues to be debated. In the Landry case, the debate has turned political after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office was going to intervene on behalf of Windfern High School.

“It is an election year, and this was political right from the beginning,” Randall Kallinen, Landry’s attorney, said in a Huffington Post article. Paxton is on the ballot for re-election this year.

Kallinen also points to the fact that 10 days prior to Landry’s refusal to stand, President Donald Trump said at a rally in Huntsville, AL that he wanted NFL team owners to release players from their contracts if they didn’t stand for the National Anthem.

“[The owners are] going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’” Trump said.

Landry’s lawsuit is scheduled to go to court in April, 2019.

Ethan Weihl – News Editor 

This is news editor Ethan Weihl’s first year on ECHO staff. He is excited to begin his work on the ECHO. He has not decided on college yet, but he wants to major in Political Science and Journalism.

 


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