Oregon bill would put Pledge in classroom every day of week

SALEM, Ore. - Yes, students are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Oregon's classrooms.

But only one day a week.

A lawmaker, Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, has proposed a bill that would change that, requiring schools statewide, including public charter schools, to have students recite it every school day.

House Bill 3014, introduced in February, went before a committee hearing on Monday.

Esquivel said reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day is something most people believe is already being done.

"People are in shock. 'Why do you have to do this? Don't they do that anyway? No. The answer is no," he said.

The bill would also put an American flag in every public classroom. Currently, Oregon public schools are only required to have an American and Oregon flag near the school building.

The bill would mandate US and Oregon flags "of a suitable size" in classrooms and "provide a time at least once daily during school hours for an employee or a student of the school to lead students in the salute of the United State flag by reciting: "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."

Students who don't wish to recite the Pledge of Allegiance may still opt out, even if the bill passes.

Following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1943, students cannot be legally compelled to say the pledge or stand while it is being read or recited.

The Oregon branch of the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill. The union already receives a complaint a year that schools are trying to force students to say the pledge, the associate director said.

"We're always concerned about any time that a student might feel coerced into saying a pledge when they don't feel that that's something that they want to do," said Jann Carson, Oregon ACLU associate director.