Oklahoma bill would require daily Pledge at all elementary schools

A daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance would be required in Oklahoma’s public elementary schools under legislation filed in advance of the 2014 legislative session.

The Journal Record reports that the bill provides an exemption for students who do not wish to take part in the pledge. It would also require every public school in the state to own and display a U.S. flag, and suggests that it be recited in other public schools.

The bill, from Republican Sen. Rob Standridge of Norman, is among several pieces of school-related legislation that were filed in December.

A bill by Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, would require the State Board of Education to adopt revisions to the state’s current English, language arts and mathematics requirements to remove alignment with the K-12 Common Core State Standards. The national standards have drawn opposition, especially from conservative House legislators.

Fields’ bill also would require the state board to take action to initiate a request with the U.S. Department of Education to change the agreement that ties federal funding to the implementation of the Common Core standards.

The standards are part of an initiative of the National Governors Association, which is currently chaired by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. They have been adopted in 45 states, including Oklahoma.

Fallin recently signed an executive order in support of the standards in math and English, and she said she hoped the order would ease growing fears that the standards represent a federal takeover of public education.

Separate bills by Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, and one by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, would allow schools to display religious scenes or symbols, provided the display includes a scene of more than one religion, includes a religious and secular symbol, and relates to a traditional winter celebration.

“(That) display shall not include a message that endorses, favors, disfavors or encourages adherence to a particular religious or nonreligious faith, belief or perspective,” according to the bill.

State lawmakers return to the Capitol on Feb. 3 for the beginning of the 2014 legislative session.