Stars and gripes

For a few days earlier this year, I thought my daughter's elementary school committed an act of extraordinary bravery. Or maybe extraordinary stupidity. I wasn't sure which. In late August, I discovered that several classrooms at Clinton Elementary School in Clintonville had stopped doing the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. This seemed like a big deal. Did my daughter's school really have the chutzpah to kill off one of our most sacred patriotic traditions?

Well, the short answer is no. Despite a Clinton teacher saying on a PTA Facebook page in late August that the school decided to stop doing the pledge, students were back honoring the American flag every morning by early September. Columbus City Schools spokesman Scott Varner says the pledge hiatus was the result of confusion surrounding a revamping of the daily morning announcements at Clinton. “It definitely is still a part of the day, and, in fact, they did it this morning,” he said in early September.

I have mixed feelings about that. While I wasn't looking forward to Donald Trump attacking my daughter's third-grade teacher on Twitter, I do welcome a discussion of the pledge's sanctified place in U.S. classrooms. For me, the most compelling argument against the pledge is a practical one: Does it really register with young children? After all, even Francis Bellamy, the author of the pledge, believed it was better suited for educated adults.

Case in point: my 11-year-old son, who until last year misheard “for which it stands” as “for witches stand.” In other words, he spent the first five years of his education pledging his allegiance every morning to practitioners of black magic. Even Trump might take a knee for that.