As a veteran public school educator and a strong advocate of students, I take issue with the Feb. 26 editorial, “South Portland students give lesson in patriotism.”

First of all, this issue centers on all South Portland high school students being forced to recite the daily Pledge of Allegiance, and whether this requirement was a violation of their constitutional rights. How can high school students acquire a deep understanding of constitutional principles that center not on the freedoms defined in the Bills of Rights, but on the organization principles, i.e. the branches of government, federal vs. state and limits of power?

Public schools have the legal responsibility to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of parents as defined by the Latin term “in loco parentis,” which means school officials, as “parents,” are obliged to provide a safe and proper learning environment for the students entrusted in their care. Evidently, the schools’ choice to preserve the Pledge of Allegiance has met the criteria.

Why was the Pledge of Allegiance first introduced to pubic schools? The Pledge of Allegiance initially was written to instill a sense of patriotism in school children. According to the English dictionary, patriotism is showing devoted love, support and defense of one’s country; having national loyalty and concerned for one’s defense. Clearly, the South Portland students did not provide a lesson in patriotism as defined by the editors.

What are the cherished values of a free society? According to the editorial, the right to speak and believe freely are the most cherished. What currently symbolizes these values? The American flag. By not having students re-affirm their daily promise to be loyal and support the flag and the United States, how can liberty and justice be guaranteed for all?

Diana Dionne-Morang

Gardiner


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