Saying Pledge of Allegiance at school has value

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At least one parent of a student at Seattle's John Stanford International School disagrees. That's her right, and her child has the option to not participate.

Nearly every school child in Washington state either recites or politely listens to the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each school day.

It's the law in this state (RCW 28A.230.140) and, frankly, a good one. Having children, as part of the learning process, exposed to patriotic symbols such as the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance is important to understand they are part of something -- a nation -- that is bigger than themselves.

Some citizens of this country don't necessarily agree with the government or its values and therefore balk at reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Well, they don't have to recite the Pledge. They can, according to the state law, simply "maintain a respectful silence."

People are not forced to participate in patriotic activities.

Given that, there is no reason for the recent flap in Seattle over a decision made by the principal of the John Stanford International School calling for the state law on the Pledge to be followed.

This publicly funded school, which is part of the Seattle School District, had previously let its teachers decide if the Pledge would be recited, the result being it was not. Principal Jesely Alvarez decided to enforce the state law. Alvarez, in a letter to parents, acknowledged some opposition from teachers but said that after a month of internal debate it was time "to move forward" in "following state law."

"As adults in this school community, I believe it is important that we follow rules," he wrote.

This decision has irked at least one parent, a 26-year-old woman who spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. The woman said she chose to settle in Seattle's Wallingford area so her 6-year-old daughter could attend John Stanford International School -- an educational community promoting multiculturalism that the woman has tried to instill in her daughter who has a Jamaican heritage.

"It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies," Sides said. "This has no educational value for young children. Absolutely none."

We disagree. We believe people who are citizens of this country should have an allegiance to the nation. Americans -- many of whom have immigrated from other nations -- working together and protecting the country is what has made this nation strong.

If Sides has a different view, that's her right. That's an important aspect of America, and there is educational value in experiencing that freedom.

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