From the Department of "we are your masters and we deserve your respect" comes news that students at one New Jersey school have, for the past ten years, been reciting a pledge of allegiance a tad creepier than the traditional flag-worshipping one that so many of us suffered through as school-attending tykes. At Morganville, New Jersey's Asher Holmes Elementary School, in the Marlboro Township Public Schools, the wee ones have been promising their devotion to teachers and educrats. Really.
The pledge as reported by Marlboro-ColtsneckPatch is:
I pledge allegiance to Asher Holmes and the Marlboro Township School District and to the teachers who help us learn, all that we need to know for the future. We promise to respect ourselves and others, to try our best and always be proud of our schools.
The pledge is recited, hand-on-heart, while facing the flag, just like the usual patriotic devotional, which is also recited. Apparently, kids have been going through the motions for ten years, ever since the thing was penned by a fourth-grade teacher. Nobody bothered objecting until parent Valerie Kaufman stepped forward at a Board of Education meeting to say, "WTF?":
"I don't know about you guys, but I've never heard of a pledge of allegiance to the school, the school district and to the teachers. I don't think it's constitutional, I don't think they should be doing it," she said. "I think we should do away with it."
Superintendent Dr. David Abbott said the pledge was put in place ten years ago, written by a fourth grade teacher. That version of the pledge used to be recited by students every day of the week.
"I don't see anything wrong with it at all," he said "You don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance at all, that is the rule of the Constitution of the United States of America. I know it is very valued by the kids, I know that it is valued by the staff and I know it is valued by most of the parents. If you have trouble with it, you don't have to do it and your child doesn't have to do it."
Board member BonnieSue Rosenwald said she doesn't have a problem with school songs or cheers, but saluting the flag while reciting a different pledge is not an appropriate time.
"Just because it was done for ten years, doesn't mean it is right, and doesn't mean it should continue to be done," Rosenwald said. "Not when every Monday morning you are told to stand with your hand over your heart to pledge allegiance to Asher Holmes. I don't think it's right."
Kaufman said her son doesn't want to recite the Asher Holmes pledge, and from what she knows, a lot of the children join her son in his sentiments. Kaufman said many parents may not even be aware of it.
Fox News says the Board passed the district-loyalty pledge by its attorney, who said it was A-OK. So the pledge continues, although local officials provide assurances that both the patriotic loyalty oath and the bureaucratic loyalty oath are purely optional.
Most of the people objecting to the local pledge frame their objections in terms of respect for the traditional pledge — the idea being that the one diminishes the other. Personally, I never took to the traditional version, and quietly opted out once I was old enough to understand what the damned thing meant. Fortunately, my suburban New York teachers were generally tolerant of my objections, so I never ran into a hassle. Frankly, I don't "pledge allegiance" to anything — I ask, "what have you done for me lately?" and keep my support conditional on good behavior and restrained use of homicidal drones, warrantless wiretaps, smothering taxes, intrusive officials and the like. In the new context, I guess making it conditional on actually passing along a decent education in return for resources consumed — and not demanding allegiance — might be in order. I'm funny that way.
Some time ago, Greg Beato sounded off on the rather icky history of the traditional pledge of allegiance.