Last year, Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott signed into law far-reaching education measures designed to give parents and students more flexibility and choice in public schools, provide greater access to public money for charter school construction and increases funding to charter schools serving low-income and disabled students.

A minor part of the sweeping legislation also requires school districts to notify parents of their right to choose not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at school events or be required to place their hand over their heart as a measure of affirmation.

Parents who make that choice must sign an “opt-out” form, but students are required to be “respectful” as the “Pledge” is recited by others.

The law also requires that notice of the option be provided to the student in some other form, such as the student handbook, and by posting it in “a conspicuous place within the school.”

The Leon County School District is trying to comply with the law, but it isn’t doing a good job explaining the requirement to parents – and upsetting parents in the process.

Killearn Lakes Elementary School in Cape Coral, Florida sent home a written notice amid the mounds of paperwork requiring signatures for field trips, emergency contacts that read:

I understand my rights as a parent and I request that my child, noted above, be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This request includes standing and placing his/her right hand over his/her heart.

One mom was so disgusted by the idea that she wrote on the form, “This is the dumbest thing I have ever read and I am so ashamed of this,” and sent it back to school with her daughter.

The girl’s uncle posted the notice on Facebook, saying, “My niece brought this home from school today…What is happening to our country?!?”

It’s unknown whether the impetus for the “opt-out” requirement is in any way tied to the increase of Muslims who are prohibited from pledging to any entity except Allah.

But it’s a question worth asking.

Why is it so important now to make sure parents know they can “protect” their child from having to pledge loyalty to the country in which they live?



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