Newseum First Amendment Newsroom Diversity
First Amendment Center
First Amendment Text
Research Packages
First Amendment Publications

Today's News
Related links
Contact Us

spacer graphic

Lawmakers push to make pledge mandatory in schools

By The Associated Press


Printer-friendly page

HARTFORD, Conn. — Responding to the post-Sept. 11 burst of patriotism, state lawmakers around the country want to put the Pledge of Allegiance into more public schools.

Half the states now require the pledge as part of the school day, and half a dozen more recommend it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, bills to make the oath mandatory have been brought up in Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, Mississippi and Indiana.

In Connecticut, Republican state Rep. Philip Prelli said schools have gotten out of the practice.

"It comes back to teaching what our country stands for," he said.

The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union opposed Prelli's bill at a hearing on Feb. 25.

"Patriotism isn't something you have to put on the books," said CCLU Executive Director Teresa Younger. "It's something that happens when your government is taking care of its people."

In Missouri, a pledge bill that died three years ago "suddenly started picking up a lot more traction" after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said sponsor Sen. Ted House, a Democrat.

The Missouri bill would require public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at least once a week and allow for objectors to be excused. It passed the state Senate 30-0 on Feb. 25.

"It's a quick and easy way to start thinking about what it is to be an American," House said.

The Minnesota House on Feb. 27 passed a bill that would require the pledge at least once a week in public schools.

A similar movement is under way to post the motto "In God We Trust" in schools. Michigan passed a law in December that makes it clear that the motto can be hung in schools. Florida, Utah, Arizona, Virginia, Louisiana and New Jersey are considering similar legislation.

In October, school board members in Madison, Wis., were the targets of a patriotic backlash after three members voted against schools' using the pledge as a way to fulfill a required daily moment of patriotism. The board later voted to allow schools to offer the pledge.

Earlier this month, Colorado's Senate Judiciary Committee killed a Republican-sponsored bill requiring students to recite the pledge. Democrats said forcing students to do so could eventually cause them to become jaded about their country.


Pledging to instill patriotism
Lawmakers, school officials want to bring back pledge of allegiance, national anthem.  10.26.01

N.H. House votes to mandate Pledge of Allegiance in schools
All pupils would have to stand during the oath, but reciting would be voluntary.  03.09.02

Move to post 'In God We Trust' in schools getting boost from legislators
Opponents say lawmakers are using patriotism in a veiled attempt to bring religion into classroom.  03.01.02

Iowa House votes to make schools display U.S. flags
Proposal included in larger measure affirming teachers' right to begin school day with moment of silence.  03.12.02

Tennessee Senate unanimously backs Pledge of Allegiance bill
Public school students would be allowed to opt out of daily recitation if they or their parents objected to the exercise.  04.18.02

Surge of patriotism in schools leads to questions about right to dissent
Albuquerque, N.M., teacher says her research has found that even before Sept. 11, many students didnít feel safe expressing their opinions at school.  10.18.01

Recite pledge, but know meaning behind the words
By Charles Haynes Students need to learn that respecting the flag means respecting fundamental rights — including the right to dissent or opt out on grounds of conscience.  10.28.01

Oklahoma House passes moment-of-silence bill
Measure would also require schools to display U.S. flag, teach students about flag's history, etiquette.  03.21.02

'In God We Trust' bill clears Alabama Senate
Americans United calls measure 'a backdoor scheme to promote religion in public schools.'  03.22.02

Appeals court hears case of student disciplined over Pledge of Allegiance
Alabama high school senior was spanked, reprimanded after he stood silently with his fist raised rather than recite oath.  07.01.02

Pennsylvania Senate passes patriotism bill
Measure would require students in public, private schools to recite Pledge or sing national anthem daily.  11.17.02