POWAY, Calif.—Parents in Poway pushed the school board Monday evening to change the way the Pledge of Allegiance is introduced at school every morning.
The controversy began in September when an announcement over the school P.A. system at Twin Peaks Middle School was made saying, "If you wish to participate please stand." Some parents said the new language actually discourages kids to participate, and felt it was wrong.
Under state law, a child cannot be required to participate in saying the pledge of allegiance. But the parents said the way the introduction was worded enabled kids to sit out, not because of their beliefs, but just because they felt like it.
"The problem became, too many kids were sitting out thinking it was funny and trying to call attention to themselves," said Steve Vaus, whose child attends Twin Peaks Middle School. "We felt it was very important for them to change it to more of an invitation to participate rather than an invitation to sit it out."
Some parents don't want their children told to take the oath because it includes the phrase, "one nation under God." Some don't believe in a god and others believe a religious concept has no place in a patriotic pledge.
Even kids in school said some students recite it because of peer pressure.
"I think people do participate in the pledge of allegiance even though they have different religions because of everyone else is doing it and they don't want to feel left out," said Isabel Rimando, a 9th grader at Poway High School.
The pledge of allegiance was written in 1892. It was enacted by Congress in 1942, but Congress modified it in 1954 by adding the words "under God" which made it in effect an unconstitutional public prayer.
"They make us do it at school every day during fourth period," said Poway High freshman Miriam Bernal. "I think it's pretty good except the "under God" part because not everyone believes in God."
A group of parents in Poway brought the issue before the board at the beginning of the school year in September and was told the board would review its pledge policy. Monday, the parents returned and the board decided to adopt wording that encouraged participation .
The introduction over the school P.A. system will now say, "You are invited to recite the pledge of allegiance."