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Brookline School Committee Votes To Revise Pledge Policy; Stirs Debate

The committee votes 5-0 with two members abstaining in favor of a controversial pledge policy.

The Brookline School Committee passed a revised version of the Flag Protocol and Pledge of Allegiance policy Thursday night as the subject continued to stoke strong sentiments from the public.

The vote was 5-0 with Judy Meyers and Helen Charlupski abstaining. Barbara Scotto and Susan Ditkoff were unable to attend the meeting.

“There has been such strong pro and against recitation of the pledge. There are many, many—not only parents and children who want to recite the pledge—there are many members of our staff that want to recite the pledge,” said Meyers. “What this policy is trying to do is give people an opportunity to do that.”

The controversy first arose during the winter when Devotion School families were sent a form that some saw as a . That drew attention to the district’s policy, which some people deemed unconstitutional. Meyers noted that the revised policy “is now constitutional.”

Under the revised policy, a member of the school community will have an opportunity to recite the pledge once a week as part of school-wide morning announcements, but no one will be forced to do so.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, people for and against the recitation of the pledge voiced their opinions.

“I think the basic issue is still this issue of a classroom recital—group recital—even if it is allegedly voluntary, which it isn’t in our opinion, in a classroom where there is peer pressure,” said Brookline resident Mark Rosenthal.

He went on to say he favored an assembly where students and staff members would be able to attend if they wanted recite the pledge.

Rosenthal also questioned how the committee can be sure that the classroom recitation isn’t coercive, noted the lack of a public hearing on the issue, and mentioned the possibility of bringing the subject to the fall town meeting.

“I don’t think it will be pleasant,” said Rosenthal.

Paula Torres, a mother with two children at Devotion, was on the other end of the spectrum.

“I’m for the Pledge of Allegiance,” said Torres. “I don’t know what the big deal people are making about it. In the old times, everybody was made to do it. There was never any discussion.”

She added later, “No one is obligated to do it if they don’t want to do it.”

[Update: changed the arguably poetic "Pledge of Alliance" reference.]

MoonBeamWatcher April 29, 2011 at 10:39 PM
BRAVO, God BLESS America! It is about time Brookline hushed the ACLU and the rest of the queeslings! Quite frankly if YOU can't subscribe to The Ten Commandments and recite The Pledge of Allegiance I suggest you go someplace you feel more comfortable. Need a little education where the author of this GOOD NEWS should deliver the first presentation after calling the American PLEDGE "The Pledge of ALLIANCE" Guess these "J-Students" took classes on line?! "permission slip for reciting the Pledge of Alliance." ALLiance . . . YOU say!? 31 words folks . . . I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.
MoonBeamWatcher April 29, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Another typo? Was that the former selectperson Marty Rosenthall or ANOTHER fellow called Mark who was so against the American Pledge? Find it hard to believe "WE" would have 2 Rosenthals so unDemocratic! THUMBS up for Paula Torres who certainly loves America more then PC Mark Rosenthal.
vc April 30, 2011 at 01:10 AM
Dear Citizen of the United States of America, When did we forget that he recitation of the Pledge reminds us to be respectful for all of the people who, throughout the history of this nation, gave the ultimate sacrifice for our shared belief in being one nation, indivisible, and working to achieve liberty and justice for all? When did we lose sight of how the value the pledge also gives us as an identity as a nation, as a community, and as an individual responsible for working together to these ends? The pursuit of liberty and justice for all is an on-going process, and I see nothing is wrong with keeping that in our minds while we enjoy the privileges and freedoms here in the Town of Brookline, MA, USA. As we all have experienced, group activities such as parades, recitation, cheering, or singing helps to strengthen a sense of community. The pledge is an affirmation of our community and responsibility to each other. Personally, it would not be a bad idea to, after the recitation of the pledge, everyone shake hands with the person next to them to "seal the deal." 
Momek May 05, 2011 at 02:09 AM
VC - you have articulated beautifully the intention of the Pledge - the problem is that not all of the students in our schools are US citizens and while they can certainly sit silently while others voluntarily pledge their allegiance to this country, they are children and like most children I know, they want to be accepted and respected by the people around them. I would prefer we welcome these children, whether they are here temporarily or permanently, rather than making them feel out of place or as Moonbeam so intolerantly suggests, tell them to "go someplace they feel more comfortable". Yes, we all said the pledge when we grew up, and I was initially concerned that my children were not learning the Pledge at school as I had. But I've come to appreciate that my school experiences took place in a different time. Our country is more diverse now and (I had hoped) more tolerant and respectful, than when I grew up. I am grateful that my children are meeting kids who come from so many different cultures and who bring their different perspectives, experiences and traditions into my children's lives. If every child who attends Brookline schools was a US citizen, I would feel differently about reciting the Pledge, but they're not. The concept of an "optional" pledge might be acceptable for adults, but it's ludicrous for children, most of whom are eager to make new friends and assimilate into the new culture they've found themselves in.
MoonBeamWatcher May 05, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Bless your heart VC! Now trust me, when I attended church in Malta as a member of USN and not too much older then the students and guests at Devotion (sounds kinda religious to many) and they said "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN" I knew who I was, what and where I was . . . I had no problem appreciating the love and respect these citizens had for their country. Try not to be so ACLU and George Soros like. THOSE children would love to call America, HOME, and if unable to - will reflect on the pride his fellow students took in reciting "The Pledge" and for a few years, he did too. 31 words folks . . . I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.

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