AUSTIN - Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 83 into law this week, restoring the Pledge of Allegiance to the classroom. The new law directs school districts to recite pledges of allegiance to the United States and Texas flags and observe one minute of silence each day in Texas schools. The law takes effect next school year in August.
“Reciting the pledge and reflecting for a moment each school day adds a tone of seriousness to the day,” said State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston). “Far from trivial, this law will add to the teachers’ ability to be effective in the classroom by focusing the children’s attention on the educational endeavors upon which they are about to embark.”
“Last Monday, we as a nation celebrated Memorial Day. We paid tribute to the sacrifices of the men and women who have given their lives so we may live in freedom. Freedom belongs to those who will be brave, and pledges of allegiance and periods of silence offer daily opportunities to remember those sacrifices and the values for which America stands,” continued Bohac.
Texas Education Code Section 28.002 states that “a primary purpose” of the public school curriculum is to prepare “thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism.” Section 1.003 requires public schools to fly United States and Texas flags each day school is in session. SB 83 provides that each student recite pledges to the U.S. and Texas flags unless excused by a written request from a parent or guardian. The new law also calls for a one minute moment of silence following the recitation of the pledges during which a student may choose to reflect or engage in any silent activity that does not interfere with another student. Current law allows for a moment of silence, but does not require it. New York, New Mexico and California have similar laws requiring a pledge of allegiance or patriotic exercises. Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, and Oklahoma currently require periods of silence.
“If we require schools to fly the U.S. and Texas flags, it only makes sense to acknowledge them as part of a curriculum that teaches patriotism,” commented fellow-sponsor Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas). “This legislation is simple, yet profound and far-reaching. More than four million Texas school children will be reciting daily pledges and having a minute of silence by the commencement of school in August.”
The pledge of allegiance to the United States flag was originally written to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America, October 11, 1892. Published in Boston-based The Youth Companion, the pledge became a staple of patriotic ceremonies during the early twentieth century. The United States Congress officially adopted the pledge in the United States Flag Code on June 22, 1942. The pledge to the Texas flag was adopted during the same era. The 43rd Texas Legislature in 1933 established rules for the proper display of the state flag and provided for a pledge to the flag: “Honor the Texas Flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.”
Authored by Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio), Senate Bill 83 is the Senate companion bill to HB 793 by Bohac and Branch. The Senate version became the final vehicle for the new law when it passed through its chamber before HB 793 had made it through the House. Bohac and Branch served as the House sponsors of SB 83.
"Children are moldable and teachable. That's what we as adults should be doing -- teaching them civic literacy embodied in such things as the flag. Values of freedom and justice. Values of honor and liberty. This bill is a thoughtful step in the education process of our children. It's the right thing to do," concluded Bohac.