November 8, 2014 8:16 pm -


A California High School student was punished for omitting “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Derek Giardina, 17, a student at Merrill F. West High School in Tracy, California, said the Pledge of Allegiance properly as instructed as part of the morning announcements. While he omitted only two words, which were added during the anti-Communist…


D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

53 responses to School Lowers Grade Of Student Who Omits ‘Under God’ From Pledge

  1. arc99 November 8th, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I am kind of surprised this is happening in Tracy. It is only about 40 miles from the Oakland/Berkeley area which is arguably the most liberal district in the entire USA.

    The Tracy area was quite conservative until about 10 years ago when we leftist baby boomers started moving to the suburbs, kicked out the incumbent GOP Congressman and replaced him with Jerry McNerney who by the way kept his seat in a close election.

    Instead of lowering his grade, I think the kid should get extra credit for generating discussion and debate on what the pledge means.

    Good thing I am not a student at this school. They would probably not even bother with my grade and just kick me out altogether. My version of the pledge would say

    ‘One nation under all goddesses, gods, and beliefs…’

    • Suzanne McFly November 8th, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      That is what I thought, I would expect this in Mississippi or Texas. Maybe there is more to the story?

    • M D Reese November 8th, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      I’m with you there–so many gods, so little time:

      • FrankenPC . November 9th, 2014 at 1:17 am

        That’s an awesome link! Thanks.

        • M D Reese November 10th, 2014 at 5:17 pm

          You bet. I just recently found it and I want to explore it more deeply. I love how you have to scroll way down to find christianity.

          • FrankenPC . November 10th, 2014 at 5:26 pm

            That fact wasn’t lost on me as well…OTHER. LOL!

          • M D Reese November 10th, 2014 at 5:30 pm

            You might enjoy “the Tweet of God”–I bookmarked it with my news sources and check it every day:


          • FrankenPC . November 10th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

            “Jesus died for your sins, so what are you waiting for? Sin!”


      • rg9rts November 9th, 2014 at 7:14 am

        Quick do the christian thing…..take a collection

    • burqa November 9th, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      John Yoo, author of the torture memos, is a professor at Berkeley now.
      Such a shame.
      I had a professor who was there and involved in the Free Speech Movement in the 60s there…

  2. Angelo_Frank November 8th, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I sincerely hope the school district and administrators get their pants sued off of them for this egregious violation of the Constitution.

  3. KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker November 8th, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    The “under god” bullshit was added by right-wing zealots in 1954 who were afraid of our country’s development and diversity.
    Right-wingers are still ruled by fear to this day.

    • Dwendt44 November 9th, 2014 at 12:20 am

      Added during the hysteria of the McCarthy era. Christian activist knew most politicians would knuckle under rather that appear to be against christianity so they pushed the change in the pledge, changed the motto and added ‘in god we trust’ to the currency.

  4. tiredoftea November 8th, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Nope, not a “christian” nation, not us.

    • Cosmic_Surfer November 10th, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Not a Democratic or Constitutional Republic either – a Kleptocratic, Corporatist or Feudal nation is closer

  5. M D Reese November 8th, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I do believe that the school is in violation of the very Constitution that they are forcing students to pledge to. I hope that they are smacked down. I went to high school in a small California cow town that held MANDATORY pep rallies for the football team. How fun is that. Go team. Rah. Rah.

    • rg9rts November 9th, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Sounds like Rough and Ready!

    • burqa November 9th, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      He wasn’t forced.
      He was offered an alternative and turned it down.

      • M D Reese November 10th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

        Yeah–like schools that have forced prayer making the non-christian kids wear ear muffs or sit out in the hall. No American should be forced to acknowledge a deity.
        I’m old enough to have learned the Pledge WITHOUT the words “under god” in it, and that is how I say it to this day. Injecting those two words into the Pledge actually negates the words on either side, which are “one Nation, indivisible”.

      • R.J. Carter November 10th, 2014 at 4:54 pm

        As well he should have. That’s the point of standing on a principle.

  6. Cristina Bonuso November 8th, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Get a lawyer…I omit “and justice for all” because clearly that is not the case.

    • burqa November 9th, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      “justice for all” is what our nation is founded to strive toward achieving. From the beginning it was acknowledged this would be a process, not a one-time accomplished fact. From the beginning we have been on a path on which we have gotten better and better at achieving “justice for all.” We have a marvelous system for doing so, peacefully.
      This is just what a good history class would show. Such a class would give the student an appreciation for how far our country has come. The student would see the steady advance of improvement. This context would permit the student to see a major civil rights achievement coming to pass with equality for gay Americans. It is an awesome thing when we look at the whole picture. We have done so much to get better and better and also to help and inspire others to gain and expand their freedom. Yes, we have a ways to go, but more and more we are achieving “justice for all” as we continue the process of perfecting the union.
      But this kid doesn’t appreciate any of that.

      He had an option to get credit doing something else but turned that chance down.

  7. Cristina Bonuso November 8th, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Original Pledge: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931)

  8. Dwendt44 November 9th, 2014 at 12:29 am

    This is a public high school, not a private religious one.

  9. fahvel November 9th, 2014 at 4:13 am

    dear Derek, get the hell out of that school and that town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. rg9rts November 9th, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Are they going to assign the bible too???

  11. Budda November 9th, 2014 at 8:06 am

    The individual or individuals behind this should be looking to get sued and find another job. What dumb person could possibly think this is acceptable?

  12. Larry Schmitt November 9th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    What does the pledge, with or without the key phrase, have to do with the student’s grade? It’s nothing more than a robotic recitation of words that no one ever thinks about the meaning of. It should be abolished altogether. Saying it or not saying it does not prove how patriotic or unpatriotic one is. As if that matters anyway. It’s like the loyalty oath Nazis had to take to Hitler.

    • burqa November 9th, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      He had a class where he had to read the morning announcements and the pledge was part of it. He had the option of taking an alternative assignment and declined, choosing instead to stir up trouble and hurt his grade, needlessly. He should have taken the option that was offered.

      • Larry Schmitt November 9th, 2014 at 6:06 pm

        And my point is that the school had no business including that in the assignment. Reciting the pledge is as meaningless as the Our Father.

        • burqa November 9th, 2014 at 7:03 pm

          I don’t know if they did or not. I would have to be able to see the entire lesson plan to see the context. This is often the case with other things that, taken in isolation, seem to be things the school doesn’t need to teach.
          Apparently the pledge is given to the school over the loudspeaker when the announcements are given. This kid chose to refuse taking the alternative, which would be the logical thing if he just wanted to assuage his conscience. But instead, he chose to cause a disruption on more than one occasion. I’m sure he knew the consequences of his action and proceeded anyway.

          I agree with you on the pledge not necessarily indicating patriotism. But by his own words, this C- student has also not learned much about this country for him to have such little appreciation for it.
          Yesterday I spoke to a man who was part of a civil rights protest where I live back in 1950. His was an amazing story. I felt awful things were once so bad but I was also thrilled to see the progress we’ve made. I was blessed to have this older African American tell me about it. Looking at the even wider context of our history, we have a magnificent country that has done marvelous things. We have been idolized abroad for what we’ve done to establish and expand our own freedom and to help others with theirs.
          Yet this kid doesn’t get any of that.
          This kid has no gratitude or appreciation for the things that people like that elderly black man did to make this country better.

          • Larry Schmitt November 9th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

            The whole point of this story is that his grade was reduced because of the pledge. And you can’t say how much appreciation he has or doesn’t have for the country. He understands enough to know what freedom of speech means. The pledge was part of a debate class. How does that connection work? Maybe they should have a debate about the pledge.

  13. Hifi1 November 9th, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    The student just needs to contact the AHA legal center at and this will be resolved quickly.

    Schools have NEVER won any contest in court when it comes to the Pledge.

  14. burqa November 9th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    OP: “Derek Giardina, 17, a student at Merrill F. West High School in Tracy, California, said the Pledge of Allegiance properly as instructed as part of the morning announcements. While he omitted only two words, which were added during the anti-Communist panic of the 1950’s.”

    That’s like saying that today the U.S. Constitution allows slavery, but the “bastardized version” doesn’t.
    The pledge was changed, just as the Constitution was.
    So the student did not say the pledge correctly and the author is being unnecessarily deceptive to make a point.

    Nowhere in the article do I see Giardina doing the obvious, though it would not have caused the kind of stir that some high school kids enjoy causing. He should have gone to the teacher, explained his objections, and asked for another assignment in place of this one. If the teacher said no, he should’ve taken it up with the principal before this got so out of hand.
    He also should have been able to take the hit and not be pushed into failing, but that’s another issue.
    I support his reasons and believe he should have been able to do something else for credit. Unfortunately, he didn’t try to do that and took a hit academically and stirred up a bunch of trouble, needlessly.

    He’s also either a dunce for not appreciating his country or the school has taught him poorly on the subject. This is a wonderful country packed with wonderful people who have done and are doing wonderful things. There is a lot of things to enjoy and admire about this country. We not only achieved our own freedom, we set a standard for others that is still admired around the globe and we have achieved freedom for millions in other countries. Yes, we have problems and make mistakes. But we have a system in place for resolving our differences and correcting our mistakes peacefully and day by day we get even better. Here we are, seeing us take a major step forward in civil rights for gays and this nitwit doesn’t seem to get it. Someone needs to drag his butt down to a national cemetery and inform him what all those buried there served our nation to protect and achieve.
    He’s an ingrate.

    • Larry Schmitt November 9th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      The pledge is not in the constitution. It is part of the Flag Code, which, while it is a law, there are no penalties for not complying. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that punitive enforcement would conflict with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Anything related to the flag is nothing more than custom, unless you’re in the military, then it’s part of the UCMJ. IMO, the school had not business making this part of any student’s grade.

    • tracey marie November 11th, 2014 at 7:03 am

      lowering a grade for a myth is the height of stupidity and a ridiculous reason to lower his grade

  15. nightowwl November 9th, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    “If their thoughts are different than yours, that’s OK. America’s a very diverse place.”

    In America, we attempt to control others, by law or by force, who think differently, believe differently or live differently than the approved definition of ‘normal’. This is one of many examples to numerous to count.

    It is a form of subjugation; it is enslavement; it invalidates everything we have been taught about America Land of the Free. How ironic is it that his father, a veteran who fought for our freedoms, is now fighting The Powers That Be to preserve those very freedoms he risked his life for.

  16. Pundit456 November 10th, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Inasmuch as this kid is not 64, he cannot have been taught to recite the pledge in any pre-1950 form.
    Besides you have no problem when California ignores traditional marriage so just think of your idea of the traditional pledge the same as your idea of marriage; irrelevant.

    • nightowwl November 11th, 2014 at 12:02 am

      It makes you uncomfortable thinking about this kid not including ‘Under God’ in the pledge so there is something wrong with him. He must be punished to make you feel better.

      It makes her uncomfortable thinking about homosexuals so there is something wrong with them. They must change their behavior to make her feel better

      It makes him uncomfortable thinking about abortion so there is something wrong with a lot of women. We must make rules to control these women to make him feel better.

      Get the picture? Personal Responsibility isn’t just about bringing home a paycheck, it’s about taking responsibility for your own emotions and being responsible for your own happiness. Judging, condemning, trivializing their very existence – to fix your problems – that’s about as selfish and irresponsible as it gets.

      • Pundit456 November 11th, 2014 at 6:33 am

        The fact that seems to escape most people today is that choices have consequences.
        He was not asked his opinion on the pledge nor was it suggested that reciting the pledge incurred any obligation on his part. It is not unlike taking an exam; the correct response is the one presented in class even if a dissenting opinion is more credible.
        If this student failed to consider the impact a refusal to render the correct response would have on his grade, this could be a learning experience for him. If he did consider it and chose not to comply, he assumed responsibility for the consequences.
        If he chose not to comply anticipating public opinion might insulate him from the consequences; well we have yet to see how that works out for him.
        In that there are alternatives to a public school education, those who object to a certain curriculum are free to be educated elsewhere.

        • tracey marie November 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am


        • nightowwl November 11th, 2014 at 7:50 am

          The Pledge of Allegiance as written by Francis Bellamy: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it
          stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”

          The Pledge of Allegiance as read by Derek Giardina: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it
          stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”

          Common sense – remember that? It is something this school sorely lacks. Derek didn’t burn a flag, he didn’t set off a bomb, he didn’t bring an uzi to school with the intent to kill. He read the original pledge.

          Choices have consequences. The school reacted idiotically, and they will suffer the consequences of their imbecilic decision. See, we agree!

          You choose to voluntarily lock yourself up for life in a prison of rigid rules and lockstep attitudes. Just because you don’t trust yourself with freedom, don’t assume the rest of us can’t handle it. We have common sense, something you probably had at one time, but it’s been replaced by authority worship and meaningless phrases.

          • Pundit456 November 16th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

            If the phrase is meaningless why did he have a problem with saying it?
            The fact remains that he chose not to do as instructed and was penalized accordingly.

          • nightowwl November 17th, 2014 at 12:17 am

            You and I are just spinning wheels – we could do this forever and it wouldn’t change a thing.

            Enjoy your life on the path that was chosen for you – I’m off to find my own.

          • Pundit456 November 17th, 2014 at 5:58 pm

            No, it is your wheels that are spinning; or stated another way, you’re stuck.
            School is all about regurgitating material presented and being graded on the quality and accuracy of that regurgitation.
            His was poor and he was graded accordingly. It has nothing to do with homosexuals, abortions or controlling women or anyone else.

      • Pundit456 November 16th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        This convoluted rhetoric is neither cogent nor relevant.
        He has the freedom to skip class; skip school; skip assignments; refuse to correctly recite the current pledge of allegiance, etc.. However, implicit in each if those choices is consent to be subject to the attendant penalties. It is no more complicated than that.

        • Mark February 7th, 2015 at 2:32 am

          YOu have the freedom to not suck me but i will shoot you if you don’t

    • tracey marie November 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am

      basically you are a troll

      • Pundit456 November 16th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

        The fact that you felt compelled to post an unfounded ad hominem pejorative because you had nothing germane to the topic to offer says more about you than me.

        • mea_mark November 16th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

          I wouldn’t call it an ‘unfounded ad hominem pejorative’, more like an opinion that is shared with others, probably closer to fact for most of the people that leave comments here.

          • Pundit456 November 16th, 2014 at 1:07 pm

            So then it would be more profound to be dismissive than engaging…… ? hmmm
            You must be a member of congress.

          • mea_mark November 16th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

            Please don’t insult me, ha ha. No way would I be a member of congress today.

    • Mark February 7th, 2015 at 2:31 am

      so when you are in another country I can rape your wife and daughter , hey it is tradition her.