For the third year in a row Minnesota lawmakers find themselves wrestling with the touchy issue of requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The tricky part has been finding a way to educate young people about the nation's Pledge of Allegiance without ostracizing those students who choose not to recite the pledge.
The House Education Policy Committee approved a version that would have required at least a weekly recitation of the pledge by students. A Senate committee defeated a pledge bill with different wording Thursday night although the panel may revisit the issue.
Certainly, information about the Pledge of Allegiance as well as flag etiquette has an appropriate place in civics classes. But as stirring as the words of the pledge are a mandatory rote recitation may not be the best way to engender patriotism. The truest demonstrations of patriotism are usually spontaneous. Think of the unforced exhibition of American flags that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the crash of the Shuttle Columbia. Patriotism is just one of those qualities that can't be legislated into existence.
And there are other pressing education issues for the Legislature to address. Now that the Profiles of Learning are going to be scrapped a panel that was just named this week has to submit the final draft of new academic standards to the Legislature by March 31.
Once again, there's the possibility of a stalemate on the pledge issue. So here's a recommendation offered in the spirit of not looking to government for solutions to problems that could be solved by the private sector: Parents can teach the pledge to their children at home. It's the same way most Christian children learn the "Our Father." Most experts agree that children look first to their parents when they're modeling behavior.
The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. Congress added the words "under God" to the pledge in 1954. For parents who might need a refresher course on the one-sentence pledge, we'll print it here.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
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