Two lawmakers from Arizona recently introduced two separate bills that would mandate that students in public schools recite our country's oath, the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as a second oath that would support and defend the Constitution.
One of the bills, House Bill 2467, was brought forth by Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-AZ), which would require that all high school seniors recite an oath to defend and support the Constitution in order to graduate.
A second bill, House Bill 2284, is sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith (R-AZ), and would require all public students through 12th grade to say the Pledge of Allegiance. As of now, public school students in Arizona are given time each day to say the pledge, but students are given the option to participate or not.
New language in the bill would remove the student's option and require that parental consent be given in order for a student to opt out of saying our nation's pledge.
"Is this bill going to move heaven and Earth? No," Smith told AZCentral.com "But it's important that our kids do this … since developing this idea, it has continued to evolve."
Smith's aims to convey a sense of national pride and the importance of our nation's Constitution with the new proposal, but his measures have already come under scrutiny over the idea of limiting a student's First Amendment rights.
"Students have a right to free speech, a right to stay silent, a right to go to school," Alessandra Soler, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said during a press conference.
Even with the pushback from civil liberty organizations the message brought about by both proposals is a recommitment to national allegiance in the face of continued degradation, Smith understands that changes might have to be made to the bill to have a wider appeal.
"Even though I want to encourage all of our students to understand and respect our Constitution and constitutional form of government, I do not want to create a requirement that students or parents may feel uncomfortable with," Smith said.