POLL: Should Marlboro's Asher Holmes Students Recite Their Own Pledge of Allegiance?
Asher Holmes Elementary students now have their own pledge of allegiance.
Every Monday morning, Marlboro's Asher Holmes Elementary School students stand and put their hands on their hearts, but they aren't reciting a pledge you have ever heard.
I pledge allegiance to Asher Holmes and the Marlboro Township School District and to the teachers who help us learn, all that we need to know for the future. We promise to respect ourselves and others, to try our best and always be proud of our schools.
This version does not replace the American Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited by students every day. But the Asher Holmes version became a heated topic at the June 12 Marlboro Township Board of Education meeting, as one parent voiced concern that the pledge is recited in front of the American Flag and could be unconstitutional.
Asher parent Valerie Kaufman approached the board, discontent with the pledge students say every Monday morning.
"I don't know about you guys, but I've never heard of a pledge of allegiance to the school, the school district and to the teachers. I don't think it's constitutional, I don't think they should be doing it," she said. "I think we should do away with it."
Superintendent Dr. David Abbott said the pledge was put in place ten years ago, written by a fourth grade teacher. That version of the pledge used to be recited by students every day of the week.
"I don't see anything wrong with it at all," he said "You don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance at all, that is the rule of the Constitution of the United States of America. I know it is very valued by the kids, I know that it is valued by the staff and I know it is valued by most of the parents. If you have trouble with it, you don't have to do it and your child doesn't have to do it."
Board member BonnieSue Rosenwald said she doesn't have a problem with school songs or cheers, but saluting the flag while reciting a different pledge is not an appropriate time.
"Just because it was done for ten years, doesn't mean it is right, and doesn't mean it should continue to be done," Rosenwald said. "Not when every Monday morning you are told to stand with your hand over your heart to pledge allegiance to Asher Holmes. I don't think it's right."
Kaufman said her son doesn't want to recite the Asher Holmes pledge, and from what she knows, a lot of the children join her son in his sentiments. Kaufman said many parents may not even be aware of it.
"I think we should survey the parents and let them know what their kids are doing, and see what they say," Kaufman said.
Rosenwald suggested the pledge be posted on the district website for parents to read and comment on. But Abbott said that is not the job of the board.
"Your job is policy, not administration, and you are getting very deep into administration rather than doing policy," Abbott said. "I just want to caution you of where you are going here. Where is it going to stop, in terms of all of these schools?"
The board agreed it would have its attorney look over the pledge and render a decision, before jumping to Asher Holmes administration or parents. If the attorney determines the pledge is legal, the issue is out of the Board of Education's hands and into those of the Superintendent.
The June 12 board meeting video is available at the district website and in the video attached to this article. Fast forward to the end of the meeting, around the 2 hour and 45 minute mark.