Rep. Melissa Ballard, R-North Salt Lake, is sponsoring a resolution to further promote requirements that Utah public school students have time each day to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and encourage patriotic values.
Public schools in Utah are required to say the pledge once daily to pay respect to those who fight for freedom in America and to teach children to appreciate and learn the values of being an American, Ballard said.
“Why are we here? What makes us American? And what opportunity and obligations do we have as Americans to teach our children what those values and principles are?” she asked the House Education Committee last week.
The resolution, which passed in the House on Monday, does not require students to participate in the pledge, but encourages them to create a better understanding of the ideals of the nation, Ballard said.
Ballard cited current law which states the Pledge of Allegiance must be recited once at the beginning of each school day in every public school classroom in the state, led by a student in the classroom assigned by the teacher on a rotating basis.
Farmington High School graduate Conrad Baker told the Education Committee that the pledge was rarely recited at his school.
One day, while discussing the Pledge of Allegiance in his government class, a student asked if the class could recite the pledge, Baker said. The teacher, he said, responded no, saying something along the lines of it taking away from class time.
“Think about that,” he said. “Think about a government teacher teaching about the Pledge of Allegiance,” and the teacher wouldn’t allow students to take a few seconds out of their day.
Baker said during his senior year he learned of the Utah law requiring a student-led pledge to be said every day. He began practicing it on his own. Every morning, he stood in his classroom to say the pledge.
“When I first started doing this, it was just me and two other students,” he said.
Baker said he hopes Ballard’s resolution, HCR10, will help to unify and promote patriotism in schools.
The resolution identifies the set of ideals the United States was founded upon and calls for schools to set aside for students to participate in the pledge and teach patriotic values.
“Instead of ... calling out the schools that aren’t (saying the pledge every day) I thought it would be helpful today to have a concurrent resolution for us, really encouraging our schools everywhere to abide by the law in Utah and to really adhere to this pledge,” Ballard said.
Ted Callister, a Bountiful resident, also spoke at the committee hearing last week.
“I’m concerned that there is becoming a decline in patriotism in our great country,” he said.
One of his main concerns, Callister said, is becoming a nation without God.
Callister said implementing the Pledge of Allegiance daily in classrooms will “restore a spirit of patriotism, it would remind us that we are a nation under God, and I know from my own experience that there’s something about putting our hand over our heart that transcends the language and invokes a feeling of love and appreciation for this country.”
The pledge, Ballard said, reminds students that “we are a nation under God, not without God.”
“The Pledge of Allegiance embodies and represents inspired ideals, principles and values that bind us together as a nation,” she said.