Bill proposes Pledge to be required for K-12
A bill introduced by the Michigan Senate would require all students in public schools to say the Pledge of Allegiance daily. The bill has passed the Senate and is currently sitting in the House of Representatives.
Senator Roger Kahn ® introduced Senate Bill 0637. His statements to the senate are available in the senate journal, accessible through the Michigan legislature website.
“My office conducted a small sample of school districts across the state, and it appears that, in general, students stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance around 4th or 5th grade,” Kahn said in the senate journal. “Why is this? Is it not important for our middle and high school students to continue this practice throughout their high school years?
“Senate Bill No. 637 would require public school district boards to have a policy calling for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Under this legislation, students K-12 would recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their classrooms daily or some other common area at the school.”
Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D) proposed an amendment to the bill that would allow students to freely abstain from saying the pledge. The amendment was defeated.
“I appreciate the spirit in which this legislation is brought forward,” Senator Hopgood said in the senate journal. “However, I believe we should be encouraging the Pledge of Allegiance being recited in our classrooms. That is what my amendment would have done. It would have made the opportunity to recite the pledge required, but wouldn’t have the heavy-handed mandate from government that our students, in fact, recite it.
“Once again, it goes back to the idea that we live in a free country. We have these ideals that we hold, and one of them is the First Amendment, of course: No.1, the idea that we have free speech and that we are not compelled to do or say things that we don’t want to.”
Kahn spoke against Hopgood’s amendment.
“Within this bill, there is language that has an opt out,” Kahn said. “It is already there for those who do not wish to recite the pledge. The language that was chosen in writing this bill was looked at from the point of view of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
“We looked at what is done throughout the courts of the land, including the U.S. Supreme Court. This bill is fully compatible not only with those decisions, but I would also like to note that Michigan is only one of seven states in the country that doesn’t have some type of state law requiring that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited. Therefore, I oppose the Hopgood amendment.”
The opt-out Senator Kahn referenced is explained in the bill’s last paragraph, as passed by the senate:
“A pupil shall not be compelled, against the pupil’s objections or those of the pupil’s parent or legal guardian, to recite the pledge of allegiance. The board of a school district or intermediate school district or board of directors of a public school academy, and the school administrator in charge of a school building, shall ensure that a pupil is not subject to any penalty or bullying at school as a result of not reciting the pledge of allegiance.”
Among the 31 senators who voted against the bill was Senator Warren (D) from the 18th District, which includes Ypsilanti.Originally Published: 02/05/12 8:45pm