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