Decision to ban pledge in Madison schools re-examined

· Oct 9, 2001 Tweet

After heated debate over a controversial state statute amendment requiring the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in Madison schools, the Madison School Board banned the pledge Monday in a three-to-two vote, saying it violated the separation of church and state.

However, the School Board said Tuesday it would reconsider the motion.

Ken Syke, district spokesman for the Madison Metropolitan School District, said the district received 251 phone calls Tuesday regarding Monday’s ban. He said 249 callers were against the board’s decision to eliminate the pledge. The district also received 175 e-mails, with 172 against the decision.

As of Sept. 1, a revised Wisconsin state statute required schools to offer a moment of patriotism once a day, up from the previously required once a week. Schools could choose to recite either the pledge or the national anthem.

Since Monday, however, neither the pledge nor the words of the national anthem is acceptable in Madison.

Schools may play a wordless “Star-Spangled Banner,” which solves similar problems parents and staff members had with the pledge.

Some supporters of Monday’s ban, including Freedom From Religion Foundation President Anne Nicol Gaylor, argue the pledge is a religious statement ever since the phrase “under God” was added in 1954.

“We are especially concerned that a captive audience of schoolchildren could be exposed everyday to a religious pledge,” Gaylor said.

However, Madison Metropolitan Superintendent Art Rainwater said each student has the right to opt out of morning rituals.

Rainwater also said the new solution would not please everyone.

“We do have staff members that are as adamantly opposed to the national anthem as they are to the pledge,” he told the Captial Times.

School Board officials are unsure when they will discuss lifting or altering the ban.


This article was published Oct 9, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 9, 2001 at 12:00 am


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