Debate heats up over political posters | NevadaAppeal.com

Debate heats up over political posters

Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

Posters purchased through a Christian organization promoting the Pledge of Allegiance will not be displayed in Carson City schools.

School board trustee Sheila Ward organized the purchase of the posters, but district officials decided against allowing them in schools.

“Our legal counsel feels this brings into question the issue of the separation of church and state,” said Superintendent Mary Pierczynski.

Ward moved to overturn the policy at the Nov. 12 board meeting, but did not receive a second to her motion.

Parent Gene Cleveland called the move “a disgusting lack of leadership.”

“This latest matter regarding the posting of a patriotic poster in each classroom is by far the stupidest non-decision this board has ever taken,” he wrote in an e-mail to board trustees.

The posters feature the Pledge of Allegiance on a U.S. flag backdrop. Each phrase of the pledge is broken down into a longer explanation.

The controversial explanation comes after the phrase “one nation under God.” The text reads: “Our founders understood that the government does not give us our freedom. Our freedom ultimately comes from God, and our government was established to secure that God-given freedom.”

Ward said board members were too blinded by the source of the posters, Gateways to Better Education, to read the words without bias.

“Those are Thomas Jefferson’s words paraphrased,” she said. “They’re putting these glasses on that say, ‘Christian: Watch out.’ They don’t even see the words. And the broader issue is, if we’re going to censor the words of Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration of Independence, what are we going to do with the rest of our government?”

Ward received donations to purchase the 6,000 posters from various organizations, including the Disabled Veteran American’s Association.

Association member Dave Wyble disagreed with the school board’s decision.

“I think that’s ludicrous,” he said. “Our nation was founded on these principles. Children need to understand what our nation is and pledge their loyalty to it.”

Veteran Edward Johnson said he was lucky to have only lost a leg during the Korean War and will fight to keep American ideals alive.

“There are hundreds of thousands of boys who never came home,” he said. “They’ve got to have someone representing them and teaching their kids what freedom is all about.”

But school board member John McKenna said, in an e-mail response to Cleveland, that the school board must protect the rights of all students to believe what they choose.

“Leadership is not doing what is popular, or forcing my beliefs on others — it’s doing what is right, for everyone,” he said.

Ward is distributing the posters to local church and civic youth organizations.

ON THE WEB

For more information about the posters or Gateways to Better Education, go to http://www.gtbe.org.