[UPDATE] Are Caddo-Bossier Schools Not Saying the Pledge of Allegiance?
They don't say the Pledge of Allegiance at Haughton Middle School? You could have knocked me over with a feather!
Monday evening during supper, my son 13-year-old son Craig leveled me with some startling information. "We don't say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore at Haughton Middle School," he said. "I asked my teacher why and she said she didn't know."
Craig has said the Pledge of Allegiance every school day of his life, even in pre-school. It was a mandatory part of his education. I was tickled that it occurred to him that something was missing from his morning routine - that his patriotism was compromised because of that void.
My wife Julie looked at me in total bewilderment and said, "Well that's not gonna work! I'm going to find out just what's going on!"
We asked our listeners whether or not their children were also not being required to say the pledge of allegiance. Kiss Country's Facebook page and phone line blew up with responses.
We learned most schools in the area do hold to the tradition each morning. Some schools even pledge to the Louisiana flag! However, we also heard from folks who claimed that Haughton Middle School, Benton High School, Summerfield Elementary and Walnut Hill Elementary were not requiring students to say the pledge. (UPDATE: Mitch Downey, principal of Benton High School, called us up and ensured Kiss Country that his school does indeed say the pledge each morning.)
We couldn't quite figure out why it wasn't part of the daily routine in these schools. Was it a Parish rule, school rule or perhaps even a teacher rule? We reached out to Waylon Bates, principal at Haughton Middle School, for an explanation. What he said alleviated most of our concerns:
The pledge of allegiance has traditionally been student driven every morning by a member of our student council. Student council elections were not held in the Spring before I was principal at Haughton MS. I have made arrangements for the elections to be held in September after the Labor Day holiday in order for us to settle and allow for new and enrolling students to be present and to participate. At that time we were planning on having the Pledge of Allegiance daily per a student council representative. At this time I will have the Pledge of Allegiance led daily by another student until that election is held in early September.
Bossier School Superintendant DC Machen echoed Bates' comment in an email to Kiss Country, telling us that there was a "misunderstanding" about the pledge of allegiance and that there was no intention of retiring it. Machen added that an in-class video presentation on Thursday morning would include the pledge.
I met with Principal Bates this afternoon and he assured me the tradition of patriotism would continue at Haughton Middle School and he had already made a school-wide announcement earlier today explaining the situation and that the pledge was recited today and would continue. He maintained that Haughton IS and WILL REMAIN a patriotic example for all schools of the area. I applaud you Mr. Bates and thank you for your immediate response to this situation.
And thank you to Kiss Country listeners for flexing your Red, White and Blue muscle!