Welcome back to school. Actually, public school is one of the things I’m tempted to have my kid opt out of one day. Not only because both my husband and I had terrible experiences in public school, but because it seems like the only things public schools currently care about are safe spaces, transgender bathrooms and helping kids to avoid anything they find offensive on any given day, including the Pledge of Allegiance.
That’s right, one public school in Florida sent home a slip for parents to sign if they wished for their children to opt out of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. Perhaps the school administrators forgot one of the original purposes of public education: to create a “culturally uniform citizenry.” Wait, could it be that patriotism has a purpose?
One writer over at Scary Mommy doesn’t think it’s a big deal that kids can opt out of the Pledge. As long as they aren’t opting out of learning, she argues, what’s the big deal?
She highlights another reason why I’m hesitant to enroll my child in public school: The idiot parents I’ll inevitably have to deal with.
Here’s the problem with opting out of the Pledge: When you tell your kid he can opt out of something, nothing is off limits. Nothing. Suddenly homework is offensive. So is the teacher. And the other teacher whose class your child got moved into once she claimed that her first teacher was a threat to her safe space. And the mountain is made out of the mole hill until June, when you get a 2-month reprieve before it starts all over again.
As with any other legal case involving a social issue (see most recently: gay marriage), the legal decision has nothing to do with social or moral values and everything to do with setting precedent. Love means love, therefore a couple committing incest is now going to demand the Supreme Court bless their union. Sign a form that says your kid doesn’t have to pledge allegiance to the United States and you’re effectively telling them they don’t need to pledge allegiance to their education, or to you, for that matter.
A similar opt-out issue regarding public education was raised in 1963, when the Supreme Court ruled that a non-sectarian prayer to God and reading of a biblical Psalm in the classroom on a daily basis was unconstitutional. The precedent created a slippery-slope when it comes to the presence of faith in public schools. Now, students who wish to read a Bible together on school premises are regularly reprimanded for breaking school policy and even the law. For reading a book. That’s pure insanity. Then again, if it were up to the writers at Scary Mommy, it wouldn’t be a big deal, because it’s not a math book, right?
Options requiring signatures set legal precedent. Fortunately, most parents in that Florida school district think the idea of opting out of the Pledge is nuts. Those who don’t find the option to opt out a big deal should think twice about all the things they don’t want their children to opt out of in life before they sign on the dotted line.