Republican State Senator Rob Standridge of Norman has introduced a bill for consideration in 2014 that would require the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in all elementary schools in Oklahoma, as well as every school own and display the US flag. I am old enough to remember saying the Pledge every day from the time I was in either kindergarten or first grade up through the 8th grade. I don’t remember saying it on a daily basis in high school, although we did before any assembly began. It was not required by the State through law, but I would imagine it was the “law” in the schools. I can’t honestly say that I’m surprised school children no longer recite the Pledge every day, but there is a little tiny part of me that is bewildered by it. I’m not sure how I feel about it being made a law, even with the included provisions for religious and other exemptions. Having “forced” recitation of the Pledge brings to mind Russia or China. If we are to go as far as legislation, then it might as well be required for all public school children, K-12. What will the authorities do if a child refuses (without prior permission)? Arrest his parents? Fine them? Fine the teacher, the principal and superintendent? I can foresee all kinds of problems and/or unintended consequences as a result of mandating recitation of the Pledge, not to mention the ubiquitous lawsuits. I view this the same way I do flag burning bans, half of me says “heck yeah!” and the other half says “heck no!”. As for the part of Sen. Standridge’s bill requiring all public schools to own and display our national flag, that I have no problem with. In fact, I find it hard to believe there are school districts or individual schools who do not fly our flag, along with the state flag. Perhaps I should pay closer attention as I pass by schools in my daily travels.
Another bit of legislation being put forth by Rep. Ken Walker (R-Tulsa) and Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville) is one that would allow schools the freedom to show religious scenes or symbols, as long as they also displayed a companion scene from another religion and “embraces both a religious and secular symbol”. “(That) display shall not include a message that endorses, favors, disfavors or encourages adherence to a particular religious or nonreligious faith, belief or perspective,” Another requirement would be the inclusion of a “traditional winter celebration”, whatever the heck that means. While I’m all in favor of prayer in schools and bible study for students who wish to participate, etc., I wonder if this would bring about displays of undesired and unwanted “religions”? You may or may not be aware that one of our state legislators and his family donated a monument inscribed with the 10 Commandments to the State Capitol and it sits out on the grounds. It seems to me it has been there for quite a while and now a group of satanists from New York is suing to be able to display a pentagram and perhaps even an “interactive display for children” (!?) on the grounds as well. There’s also a group of Buddhists suing for the same privilege. My wish is for the courts to tell these folks to take their alternative religious icons and stuff them, but I’m afraid the opposite will happen. Why can’t we erect a plaque that points out how the laws of the US were based on these Commandments, but that the act of displaying these same Commandments, in accordance with the US Constitution, in no way demands the viewer to ascribe to Christianity? As well, a provision could be made for other groups to also have a display explaining how their own religious beliefs /icons contributed to the creation of laws in the US. I reckon that’s probably too much to wish for. Anyway, that’s what I meant in regard to the equitable, but possibly undesirable/unwanted religious displays in our schools.
It looks like an interesting legislative year here in the Great State of Oklahoma. We will also have an interesting election cycle with a flaming liberal running opposite the OKC Mayor who has helped this city grow in the best possible ways and a governor’s race with an R challenger to Mary Fallin. I think she’ll have to come up with some pretty good talking points about why she supports Common Core or she’ll run the risk of losing. I’ve heard she’s already back-tracking a little. We’ll see.