Pennsylvania Senate passes patriotism bill
By The Associated Press
Editor's note: Gov. Mark S. Schweiker signed the bill on Dec. 9, 2002.
HARRISBURG, Pa. Students in private and public schools would be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the national anthem each morning under a bill unanimously passed Nov. 13 by the state Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Allan C. Egolf, R-Cumberland, returns to the House for final approval before going to Gov. Mark S. Schweiker because it was amended by the Senate Education Committee.
The committee deleted language that required schools to offer a period of silent prayer or meditation at the beginning of the school day.
Egolf said he introduced the measure, which also would mandate the display of the American flag in all classrooms, after finding that some schools did not ask students to recite the pledge.
"It's getting away from teaching about what our country stands for, what our founders did, and why we have the country we have," Egolf said.
The measure would allow students to decline reciting the pledge and saluting the flag on the basis of religious conviction or personal belief, but school officials would have to notify their parents if they chose to do so.
The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said that it believes the parental notification requirement would discourage students from exercising their right not to participate.
A spokesman for Schweiker would not say whether the governor intends to sign the bill if the House passes it.
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