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Pledge vote results in threats to board members

by Greg Belfrage

Members of the Sioux Falls School Board are receiving threats over this week's vote on the Pledge of Allegiance.

The wife of board member Todd Thoelke, Jackie Henrikson Thoelke, posted the following on her Facebook page last night.

The story link she's posted above is my column from yesterday's Daily Dose. 

I made the case yesterday that inaccurate, misleading and sensationalized media reporting has blown this situation far out of proportion. Shoddy and unbalanced reporting from KELOLAND TV immediately following the vote was picked up by social media and the blogosphere. The spin machine is now well out of control.

Our team in the KELO NewsCenter has confirmed the threats in an interview with Board Vice-President Kent Alberty. He says every member of the board has received them.

Board Vice-President Kent Alberty says the Board Tuesday expanded its pledge policy to include middle school students.  He says most middle school  classroom were already reciting the Pledge.
Alberty says it’s up to High School teachers if they want to say the Pledge.  He says the Pledge will be required to be said at all school assemblies.  He says presentation of colors will also be carried out at high school assemblies.  It's a clear expansion of policy. 
Alberty says the threats are coming from outside of South Dakota. He says erroneous news reports that the Board was removing the Pledge from High School prompted the threats. 

This is exactly what I explained yesterday. The board has expanded its policy. And despite what you've heard elsewhere, there is no prohibition on the pledge in Sioux Falls schools.

The only bone of contention is whether high school students should also be required to recite the pledge. The board has said logistics of the high school day make it difficult. A small group of veterans says it only takes 10 seconds.

With respect to my fellow veterans (I served in the SD Army National Guard from 1982-1986)... if kids haven't learned patriotism by the time they reach high school, they never will.

Take a moment to reflect on your memories of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

We said the pledge in junior high school, but those aren't the memories I cherish. The pledge had its greatest impact on me years earlier... standing in Miss Dilly's first grade class at Hayward Elementary School with my hand over my heart.  Those memories of reciting the pledge in elementary school are still vivid for me.

As a parent of children in the Sioux Falls School District... I'm very comfortable with the district's new expanded policy.

If nine years of reciting the pledge each day are not enough to teach patriotism and instill a love for the flag in our children... four more years won't amount to a hill of beans.

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.