Just days after a federal judge ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, some California schools are already eliminating the controversial words "under God" from the classroom—and replacing them with a pledge to the United Nations. Educators are praising the move, saying that the homage to the UN and its ideals of diversity, tolerance and equality is less divisive than the original Pledge of Allegiance.
Replacing 'under God' with 'under Kofi Annan'
By Cole Walters
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Just days after a federal judge ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, some California schools are already eliminating the daily ritual—and its controversial reference to God—from the classroom. Instead, many students here will begin the school day with a different kind of pledge: to the United Nations.
Replacing a flag-centric pledge
Hours after the U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the reference to God in the pledge violates the rights of children in three California school districts to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God," teachers in this northern California school rushed from classroom to classroom, replacing the Stars and Stripes with the blue flag of the United Nations. "We see this as an opportunity for healing and closure," says Laurie Brownstein-Huerta, principal of San Francisco's Adlai Stevenson elementary school. "A lot of us felt that the old Pledge of Allegiance was overly militaristic and flag-centric."
Old Glory meets new values
Students here will still start each day on their feet, hands on hearts, voices raised in homage to the symbol. But the words they will repeat—first with the aid of printed handouts and soon from memory—are far different than the pledge of yesteryear.
"I pledge allegiance to the UN,
and all of its member nations,
and to the diversity and tolerance for which they stand.
Many nations, under Kofi Annan, all united,
with equality, dignity and respect for all."
Principal Brownstein-Huerta says that the students are already responding with enthusiasm to the switch. "In our focus groups with them, we're hearing that they prefer the color blue to the original red and white, and that they're really excited about being part of a global community."
Repairing the breach in the church-state levee
Adlai Stevenson Elementary isn't the only California school making the change. At Bryant Elementary in Marindell, CA, teachers moved quickly to begin reeducating their young charges. Students who arrived at school the day after Judge Karlton ruled that the words "under God" should be banned from California campuses, found flags removed from classrooms and copies of the new pledge at each desk.
Kofi vs. Jesus
The reeducation campaign is already paying off, says third grade teacher Erica Rusty. "When we polled the students a few days after the change, more than 40% of them could identify Kofi Annan, compared to 13% for Jesus Christ. That's a good sign that we're close to fixing the breach in the wall between church and state." She notes that the last time teachers at Bryant polled their students on international and Heavenly figure, Jesus Christ came in near the top of the list, second only to SpongeBob SquarePants." The school recently removed the controversial cartoon character from polling questions, after some parents complained that he was a tool of the homosexual agenda.
Should all children be required to pledge allegiance to the United Nations? Talk back to Cole Walters.