Teachers shouldn't assault kids over prayer or the Pledge. That is a foolish thing to do. In the first place, it won't make a kid patriotic; quite the opposite. In the second place, it is a poor excuse for an assault. Teachers that do that probably should not be in the profession.
The reason people pledge, or don't pledge, is a feeling of belonging to a nation and its system.
I remember back in the day, when I skipped the Pledge, as a fourteen year-old high school freshman. The reason had to do with complete alienation from the school and the country. It seemed like the school was run by the bullies, that is, the mean teachers and the tough kids, who seemed to recognize one another on some level and work hand-in-glove in many ways. The teachers turned a blind eye to bullying, and the mean kids just had a field day and ran the school. It was like prison--no different, really. There was violence, a good deal of it, and a lot of ugliness. Under the circumstances, I did not feel motivated to do the Pledge.
One day, one of the mean teachers, the Phys. Ed. instructor, who hated my guts anyway for being queer and was always working with the bullies to tear me down, yanked me up out of my seat, just like in this media story. I returned his hatred. "Big Red" can thank his lucky star nothing came of it--at least, that is, in my case. With an eye to the future, I absorbed, rather than reflected. Of course, violence begets violence, which is a basic lesson that people forget, and so the cycle continues, from prehistoric times to the present. I concluded that it is better to look toward the future than to dwell in either the past or the present. There is nothing about the high school years worth remembering. It was all wasted time.
Today, I pledge without a second's thought, and the reason is, I feel a part of the system, and a devotion to the country that is genuine, based on my good life, and a comparison of other countries around the world. Other countries, generally, stink. The U.S. is far superior in many ways, until you start comparing the most enlightened, such as Finland, Norway, Sweden, or Canada, for example. Canada, of course, has the better health system and many other things, but even so, the U.S. is definitely worth the pledge. And, I think for a black person, the U.S. is worth the pledge, because black people have it far worse in any given African nation. Yes, even with a certain level of background racism, even with the occasional police shooting, black people generally have it pretty good in the U.S., as demonstrated by the sizeable black middle class. If I were black, I'd certainly prefer the U.S. over any African nation, and I'd try to prove the racists wrong, by living a decent life.