E Pluribus Unum

Mom fights school district over Spanish ‘Pledge’ assignment

EDMOND, OK (NBC) – An Oklahoma mother is fuming over a mandatory assignment given to her son.

Melissa Taggart is now taking her fight to Edmond, OK Public Schools after her son was threatened with a zero because he wouldn’t complete an assignment that would require him to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.

“My husband and I are appalled by it. We don’t believe in it and I do not want my child doing it,” Taggart said. “I just feel that it’s wrong, that he’ll have to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America in Spanish. That’s not how it should be taught. That has nothing to do with the Spanish language.”

Officials with Edmond Public Schools said that Melissa’s son was going to receive a zero for the project. A few hours later, they changed their minds and are now offering him another assignment.

“There are poems, lyrics, and great writers that she could have chosen that emphasize the Spanish culture … Why the Pledge of Allegiance,” Taggart asked.

When I was in high school back in the Stone Age of the 1960’s, I took Latin as my foreign language choice.  My teacher, Mrs. Cargill, was from Argentina.  Besides Latin, she taught Spanish and had a working knowledge of Italian and German.  Even though she was one tough cookie when it came to making us toe the line, I adored her.

Since our class was during the first period of the day, we heard the principal’s morning announcements over the room’s intercom.  These were always preceded by the Pledge of Allegiance, which he recited while all the students in the school stood and recited it in English with him. 

Except for us. 

Mrs. Cargill thought it was important to take advantage of any opportunity to bring the language alive by using it in situations that got us outside of the textbook.  So, we memorized the Pledge in Latin and recited it that way while the principal spoke it in English.

My, how subversive.

I wonder if this same parent would object to the Pledge being recited in Latin. 

How about French?  German? 

Somehow, I suspect there wouldn’t be anywhere near the fuss.  The Pledge is not a sacred text that will be defiled if translated into Spanish.  If anything, instead of giving a robotic and rote memory recitation as many students find themselves doing after years of saying it in English, it may get her son thinking about what the words actually signify. 

 Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Here’s to you, Mrs. Cargill.  I’m sure you would be “appalled” that a valuable learning tool could be twisted around to such ignorant ends.

     Ego vexillo Unitorum Statuum Americae ac rei publicae, quam refert ipsum, fidelitatum voveo: Uni Nationi sub Deo indivisibili, cum Libertate atque Justitia omnibus.

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12 thoughts on “E Pluribus Unum

  1. Oh, ferCHRISSake!! REALLY?!

    I am trying hard to not be bowled over by the things over which people will work themselves into a tizzy. It must be hard to be that scared all the time…

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  2. Mrs Cargill would be villified on Fox News, held out as an example of an insidious socialist by Glenn Beck, and probably deported if she lived in Arizona…

    We need a few more teachers like her… it makes the language real. the familiarity is why it works.

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    • I count her as one of the best teachers I ever had. We even read “Winnie the Pooh” in Latin (“Winnie Ille Pu”).

      Cur ursus clamat?
      Cur adeo mel amat?
      Burr, burr, burr
      Quid est causae cur?

      Isn’t it funny
      How a bear likes honey
      Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
      I wonder why he does?

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  3. Lost in this is the school’s ridiculous reaction. If the student had an objection to pledging allegiance to his country in another language, he should have been given the option to sit and translate it as a normal text. Obviously, the family takes the Pledge a bit more seriously than a string of words. Standing up, holding his hand over his heart, was not part of the Spanish exercise- showing proficiency in the language was the point. I don’t think the teacher was trying to politicize anything or make a point other than Spanish is a living language, but to flatly give the child a zero? There are better ways to teach, better ways to make a point, than with blanket threats of failure.

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    • I agree about the school’s reaction. I guess it would be like when a student objects to dissecting a frog in biology class. The whole uproar might have been averted by, as you say, giving the kid some other way of completing the assignment. However, since the parents are the ones who are injecting politics into it, I think even that may not have placated them.

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  4. It reminds me a bit of a comedian I once heard who said “Canada is the only place in the world where it’s not cool to speak French!” That was a poke at our language tensions, and the resistance of some to learn a second language.

    I will NEVER get why people get their knickers in a twist over this language stuff. Me, I always wanted to learn lots of languages ,which is why I can speak French, and also learned German, Latin and Irish Gaelic (but not to any degree of fluency.) I am really yearning to learn Spanish so I can talk to more people when we travel in Mexico and Latin/Central America.

    People are so freaking weird.

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    • You’ve hit the nail on the head about language tensions, Natalie. I think this protest by these parents underlines the anti-immigrant sentiment that’s currently swirling around here. I guess the parents don’t object to their son learning Spanish (since he’s in a Spanish class) but what they do object to is him saying the American Pledge of Allegiance using “that” language.

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  5. After awhile, these things just make me tired. It’s like everybody is on spring-load, waiting to be offended by something.

    They were pledging allegiance to the AMERICAN flag and she was irked? Now if she was teaching the kids to pledge allegiance to the Mexican flag, I’d understand better.

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