Students Required to Say Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish at Some Calif. Schools

A decision that requires students in a California school district to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in both English and Spanish is not sitting well with some teachers and local parents.

The three elementary schools in Lamont, Calif., where 97 percent of the population speaks Spanish, have been reciting the pledge in both languages since 2002.

Fred Molina, the principal of one of Lamont’s elementary schools, said that it makes sense to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish because it serves a wider community and still honors America.

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"I think you offer a great way for students to feel included, and it's the Pledge of Allegiance, no greater honor than to be able to say the Pledge of Allegiance in a second language," Molina told NBC affiliate KGET-TV.

But some teachers, including Barry Champagne, view the decision as an unwanted mandate.

"One of the issues with it being in Spanish is that not everyone got a chance to voice their opinion doing it that way," Champagne told KGET. "Every time it was brought up for discussion, it was set aside and we never got a chance to vote for it or even discuss it any further."

About 35 percent of the students in Lamont elementary schools are enrolled in a unique educational model, in which students receive half of their lessons in Spanish and the remanning studies in English.

All students must recite the pledge in both languages, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in the bilingual curriculum.

The decision is unlikely to be reversed as there is little local opposition and the schools had been conducting the pledge in both languages for almost ten years as an unregulated tradition.

It is not the only case of a Spanish-language pledge controversy in U.S. schools.

Earlier this year, a Texas high school came under fire after one student protested an exercise in Spanish class where students were forced to recite the Mexican pledge of allegiance in Spanish during Freedom Week – the week following the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The root of that controversy differs from the Lamont case; the dissenting Texas teen was given an alternate exercise, while students in Lamont cannot opt out of either pledge.

In addition, legal battles over the last several decades regarding the Pledge of Allegiance have resulted in an intense debate over the inclusion of the phrase “under God.” Ultimately, the courts ruled in against dropping the phrase form the pledge, saying it did not violate any student’s religious rights.

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