BARRE — A school board that religiously recites the Pledge of Allegiance to open all of its public meetings wants to talk about why at least some students at Barre City Elementary and Middle School aren’t offered a formal opportunity to do the same on a semi-regular basis.
It’s not the first time that saluting the flag has surfaced as an issue in Barre, though the practice hasn’t changed since 2001, when board members were told individual teachers decided whether to offer their students the opportunity to recite the pledge together in their classrooms each day.
At the time, the board was told, most did.
Most may still, but at least some don’t, according to board member John Steinman.
Steinman, who wasn’t on the board 13 years ago, seemed surprised by a fact that came up in casual conversation with his school-age son.
“It came to my attention from my son that children are not saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Steinman said during this week’s board meeting. “Is that accurate?”
Board members Lester Felch and Anita Chadderton indicated it was.
“Why?” Steinman asked, kicking off a brief discussion that was quickly reined in by Chairman Lucas Herring.
Herring suggested the issue be added to the board’s crowded April agenda because it wasn’t warned as a topic of discussion Monday night. However, that suggestion came after board members briefly debated their understanding of the current practice and one questioned the merits of making it part of the school’s daily routine.
“Every day they have to say it?” asked board member Anita Ristau. “Why?”
The question provoked a spirited response from Chadderton, who offered to bring in a vintage video clip of radio and television comedian Red Skelton’s take on the Pledge of Allegiance and what it means.
“I know what it means,” Ristau replied. “I’m just asking why it has to be done every day.”
“It’s not being done any day,” Steinman countered. “It should at least be done periodically.”
“I don’t find it acceptable that it’s not done at all,” she said.
That’s when Herring said the topic should be added to next month’s agenda, and the board moved on.
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