Published November 13, 2011
A Nebraska state senator plans to introduce a bill that would require all kindergarten through high school students to be led in a group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
State Sen. Tony Fulton says he will introduce the bill in January. The legislation also would require that each classroom display an American flag.
Now, schools are required only to have an American flag prominently displayed. And while many students across the state say the pledge each school day, it's not required by state law.
The Nebraska bill would be modeled after a Massachusetts law that does not compel students to participate in the pledge. Michigan, one of the states that does not have a pledge law, has a bill before its senate that would mandate that every student recite the pledge, according to the paper.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled requiring the pledge in schools is unconstitutional unless it provides for parents or students to opt out.
The idea for Nebraska's bill came from Lincoln businessman Richard Zierke.
The ex-Marine was doing research one day for a flag-folding ceremony he does for school children and came across a page on the Internet that outlined state laws regarding the pledge in schools.
Nebraska, he learned, and six other states, the District of Columbia and two territories do not have a law that addresses the pledge.
"I said, 'This is crazy,'" Zierke told the Journal Star.
He called Fulton to report the craziness, and Fulton agreed to carry the bill.
Reciting the pledge teaches patriotism, Zierke said. It instills American exceptionalism. In that moment that kids are saying the pledge, they are thinking about their country. At least that's the hope.
In Zierke's mind, it's also a stepping stone to young people making decisions about how they could serve their country, he said, including stints in the military.
"I don't want to say my country is slipping away, but teaching patriotism and the flag is not being done," he said.