Iowa Senator Introduces Bill That Forces Teachers to Recite Pledge, be ‘Patriotic’

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Iowa Republicans are seeking more control over what teachers say and do in the classroom.

Senate File 2043, introduced and referred to the education committee, would require teachers to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and stand while doing so, or while it is recited. Teachers with a documented disability that prevents them from standing are exempt from the requirement.

The bill was introduced by Republican Sen. Adrian Dickey of Jefferson County’s Packwood.

Another section of the bill also limits what teachers can say about the Pledge of Allegiance.

It reads: “A teacher shall not, while in the classroom with any students in kindergarten through grade twelve, speak about the pledge of allegiance in any manner in which the student or students in the classroom may reasonably understand the teacher’s speech to be any of the following: an unpatriotic commentary on the United States, an attempt to politically influence the student or students.”

The first time a teacher violates the law, the bill requires the school to provide the teacher written notice, send by certified mail a written notice to the parents and guardians of students enrolled in the school, and provide the state department of education and board of educational examiners with written notice of the violation.

The same thing happens if a teacher has a second violation, but the teacher will also be suspended without pay.

A third time, the same notices are sent out to the same people, but the teacher is immediately terminated.

The bill doesn’t say anything about requirements for students, likely because there’s a long-standing legal precedent saying students cannot be compelled to do so.

In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that the First Amendment prohibits schools from forcing students to salute the flag or say the pledge.

Recent challenges have focused on the “under God” language added officially in 1954, but federal courts have generally declined those because students are not required to recite the pledge.

During last year’s legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill requiring all schools to conduct the pledge of allegiance and display the American flag in class each day.


by Nikoel Hytrek

19 Comments on "Iowa Senator Introduces Bill That Forces Teachers to Recite Pledge, be ‘Patriotic’"

  • It makes sense that a public (government) school would have the teachers lead the children in saying the Pledge. In South Dakota, public schools are required to have our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust” displayed prominently in the building as well.

  • Some Republican idiot gets to decide what is patriotic and what isn’t? How about adherence to the Constitution.

  • Dunno, seems to me like requiring uniform and compulsory displays of nationalism would qualify as “an attempt to politically influence the student or students”. Students are not even required to stand for or recite the pledge. Why force teachers to?

    It’s pretty clear this is about forcing obedience to the state – but wait, don’t Rs market themselves as the party of “small government”?

  • The Democratic Party I grew up in had party leaders who believed in patriotism and American exceptionalism. Had their faith and patriotism on full display. I wouldn’t go as far as to mandate teachers to lead in the pledge of allegiance, but as a former school board member(and former county chair) I would be rather hesistant to hire any teacher who disrespects the flag or America.

  • Sentient Democrats know what’s going on with this ridiculous bill as well as the book banning and slurring of teachers: The Iowa Republicans are fighting the culture wars to fool the gullible instead of addressing the pressing needs of the state. Don’t play this Republican game.

    Remember: patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, and the Republicans have been beating this drum for decades.

  • If this passes…I’m officially done. Not because I don’t love my country. Not because I’m not patriotic. But because I shouldn’t be forced, nor should anyone, to say the Pledge every single day. Republicans worry about Democrats or the “radical left” indoctrinating their children…but this is indoctrination at its’ finest.

  • There is a tremendous irony in being forced to pledge allegiance to a government by reciting language about how free we are.

    Of course, the obvious answer to this contradiction is that Republicans care more about nationalism than they care about actual freedom.

  • What counts as disrespecting the flag or America? Who decides what is patriotic? Schools should be places of critical thinking, not a blind adherence to what people in power think is patriotic.

  • I admit that I may not understand all of the details, being Canadian, but wouldn’t compelled speech be contrary to your First Amendment?

  • Teachers teach. Given Federal and state funding, teachers teach what they are told. They can quit if they won’t and go work somewhere else. I suppose they can all pretend they’re in the movies and make brave last stands but that’s not how the real world works. It’s better if more students are taught to love their country and to serve Christ. The nation would be healthier for it.

  • Compelled speech is a violation of the 1st Amendment and it is unpatriotic and unconstitutional to pass laws that call for it. There was a time when true patriotism meant respecting the ideals our country was founded on and no legislator would have been caught dead submitting a bill like this.

  • The Democratic party *I* grew up with knew how to more skillfully manipulate the American populace into believing that the One True god was the State. They still believe that, but they’re just not as good at it. The Republican party as I understand it is wholly behind the idea that the One True deity is cash that the poor person doesn’t have and the rich person has put in the pundit’s pocket. But (insert Kermit drinking Tea) that’s none of my business.

  • This legislator should be removed from office simply on the basis of their total lack of knowledge. There’s already a law on the books that covers situations like this. It’s called the “First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

  • wow. This is truly terrifying. Forced “patriotism” (because that’s a REAL American thing…forcing people under threat to be the kind of American YOU think they should be) This, along with book bans and threats of book burning and the attacks on our educational system by a bunch of ignorant sociopaths is exactly the kind of thing that destroys a country. The stupidity and downright evil fascist tactics of the GOP are truly astounding.

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