Michigan Lawmakers Mandate Pledge of Allegiance in Schools

Michigan lawmakers are pledging to increase patriotism in public schools.

The Senate on Thursday (September 20) passed legislation requiring public schools to display a U.S. flag in every classroom and to give students an opportunity each day to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The bills, which sailed through the House earlier this month, now await the governor's signature.

Michigan is one of few states that do not require providing opportunity to recite the pledge each day. The House analysis of the bill says that just six states join Michigan in lacking the patriotic mandate. That list, however, includes Nebraska, whose Board of Education unanimously approved a pledge rule in August.

Vermont, Wyoming, Hawaii, Iowa and Maine are the remaining states without the rule.

Under Michigan's legislation and Nebraska's rule, students choosing not to recite the pledge could not be punished

Some Michigan school officials oppose the legislation, calling the requirement that districts buy additional flags a burden for the state's cash-strapped schools. 

“Bottom line, I'm fed up with mandates — especially on stuff like this,” Doug Newcombe, Bay City Public Schools Superintendent, told the Associated Press last week. “With all of the issues facing us in our society, is this the most important thing we've got to deal with? I'm all for patriotism, but I guess my question is, `Why are we spending time on this kind of stuff?”

Representative Kevin Cotter, a Republican who sponsored one of the bills, told the AP that the cost shouldn't be a major burden. “This is the very place where students are learning. ... How can the flag not be present?” he said.

The legislature did not estimate costs to schools in its analysis.

It's not clear how the policies would be enforced in Michigan. The bills made no mention of penalties to schools that choose not to comply. In Nebraska, however, schools violating its new rule would risk losing state funds and accreditation, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star.

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