ProEnglish to Sue Tucson School Over Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish

ProEnglish News Release, April 9, 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: Phil Kent

April 9, 2008

Phone: (404) 226-3549

“Requiring second grade students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish every day without their parents’ knowledge or consent is outrageous and violates Article 28 of Arizona’s Constitution which makes English the official language of the state,” says K.C. McAlpin, executive director of ProEnglish, a group that advocates for official English.

In a 2006 statewide referendum Arizona voters voted overwhelmingly to make English the state’s official language. “ProEnglish wants to right this wrong. Parents can file a lawsuit to stop this unconstitutional opening of the school day,” McAlpin said.

The controversy began when Tucson resident Lance Altherr overheard his eight-year old son reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. Altherr, who speaks Spanish, learned that his son’s second grade teacher was requiring her class to recite the Pledge in that language—yet neither the state nor the Tucson Unified School District requires the Pledge to be in Spanish.

When Altherr told the teacher and the principal of Gale Elementary School that he did not want his son reciting the Pledge in a foreign language, his protests were ignored. School officials later transferred his son to another class in which the Pledge of Allegiance is recited in English. Other parents with children about to enter the second grade at Gale Elementary have expressed worry that their children may be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.

“ProEnglish and the parents of the student involved in this case strongly support teaching foreign languages to American school children. But the line should be drawn at reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing our National Anthem. That conveys the wrong message, especially in a state that has made English its official language,” McAlpin said.

“Would school officials approve reciting the daily Pledge of Allegiance in German or Russian without even informing parents and getting their consent? I doubt it,” McAlpin added. “This is a political decision made by the teacher, and it violates the will and intent of Arizona’s voters as expressed at the ballot box,” McAlpin added.

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