The Pryor Times

February 20, 2014

Flag salute goes on in Mayes Co.

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — A senate bill passed on President’s Day has met some resistance across the state, but here in Mayes County it’s business as usual.

Senate Bill 1143 was drafted by Rob Stanridge (R) and requires that the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag be recited in schools once daily. In addition, every school district in the state shall be “required to own and display, either inside or outside each classroom building in the district, a United States flag.

“Instruction in the history and etiquette relating to the United States flag shall be given in one or more grades in the schools in every school district in the state,” the bill states.

In regard to recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the bill states “each student shall be informed by posting a notice in a conspicuous place that students not wishing to participate in the pledge shall not be required to do so.”

Pryor Public Schools Superintendent Don Raleigh has taken the bill in stride.

“We meet most of them. We display the flag at all sites and we recite the pledge,” Raleigh said of the five schools in his district.

“Lincoln has a flag outside the building. Every day we start the day with important announcements, a moment of silence and the flag salute. Every classroom displays the United States flag and the Oklahoma flag. Students are taught flag etiquette and students are responsible for putting up flags and taking them down and folding them correctly,” Lincoln Elementary School Principal Theresa Sinor added to Raleigh’s assessment.

Dave Cash, Locust Grove Public Schools Superintendent, said “this doesn’t change anything in our district.

“We currently have flags displayed and students recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day,” said Cash, who added that to the best of his knowledge students refusing to participate has never been an issue.

Some changes may be underway on the south end of the district, in Chouteau Public Schools.

“We display flags, but not at every school and we have no formal flag curriculum,” said Chouteau Supernatant Kenny Mason. “Our high school and Mazie School currently fly flags outside. We also display flags in classrooms and gyms and our students do recite the pledge every day.”

Mason said the school board recites the pledge during its board meetings.

Rep. Ben Sherrer described the bill as a “do nothing” bill.

“The bill moves it to a “shall” but still allows students not to participate. The etiquette portion is existing law,” Sherrer said.

“In the current environment of over-testing I’m not sure how much time should be spent on this [curriculum] in the classroom. I think we, as adults and parents, should all take the responsibility to teach our own children about respect and flag etiquette and not impose a responsibility on public schools to do it for us.”

The bill will become effective July 1, after school has released for the summer.