Wake Ed

Chad Barefoot criticizes Wake schools over Pledge of Allegiance

American flag painting on the wall at Olive Chapel Elementary School Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in Apex, N.C
American flag painting on the wall at Olive Chapel Elementary School Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in Apex, N.C jhknight@newsobserver.com

State Senator Chad Barefoot is accusing the Wake County school system of undermining patriotic values by encouraging lessons about how people have been coerced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the nation’s history.

All North Carolina public schools are required under a 2006 state law to schedule time each day for students to recite the pledge, although students can’t be compelled to participate. But a proposed Wake County school board policy also says the district’s citizenship curriculum “may encourage teachers to use the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as an opportunity to teach students about the history concerning coercion and the importance of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.”

In a written statement Thursday, Barefoot notes how the Democratic-led school board says it was simply including language suggested by the N.C. School Boards Association. Barefoot, a Republican who represents part of Wake County, also points to how the new policy was praised by the ACLU of North Carolina.

“The fact that our elected school board members would outsource a policy on something as important as the pledge of allegiance to the leftist ACLU and unelected School Board Association shows you how twisted and out of touch their priorities have become,” Barefoot said in his statement.

“This is a vivid reminder of the Democrat Party’s sharp left turn over the past decade. The same Party that passed the law protecting and preserving the pledge of allegiance is now trying to undermine and assault patriotic values.”

Wake is in the process of migrating its policies to align with those used in the N.C. School Boards Association’s policy manual. But the board has at times differed from the wording suggested in the NCSBA’s model policies.

In this case, not a single mention was made about the new wording regarding teaching about the history of coercion during Tuesday’s policy committee meeting.

Wake school officials say they don’t expect to see any changes made in the classroom even if the policy is approved.