Washington Dems reject students' proposal to require 'meaning and history' of Pledge of Allegiance to be taught in schools

"The other day, my friend kept repeating the word ‘ravioli’ instead of the actual pledge words. I was annoyed."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Legislation that would have required students in Washington State to be taught the "meaning and history" of the Pledge of Allegiance died after Democrats refused to support it.

Senate Bill 6205 was originally recommended by students at Eatonville Middle School, south of Tacoma, WA after their teacher realized that though they had the pledge memorized, they did not know its meaning, intention, or history of the pledge.

The bill would have required schools to provide the lessons by the 2025-26 academic year. The legislation was introduced in January by three Senate Republicans. Students who abstain from reciting the pledge would have been instructed to "maintain a respectful silence."

The legislation came about after a teacher at Eatonville Middle School realized that while his students had had the Pledge of Allegiance memorized, they did not know the intention or history behind the words they were reciting.

Alex Hansen, a teacher at the school whose class inspired the bill said, "We looked at the history of the Pledge... Then, we looked at the law. And that's where it really got interesting because... these are bright kids. And they wondered, 'well, okay, so we're supposed to say this by law, but we don't know what it means. So, why are they requiring us to say something that the schools aren't bothering to teach us what it means?'. I said 'Yeah, ditto!'"

Hansen and his class contacted their legislators and got connected with Sen. Jim McCune (R-Graham) who said, "The country used to teach the meaning and the history all across this country of the Pledge. And so, it actually gives the students a reason to stand there... and [know] why we're actually standing there saying this Pledge."

Since 1981, public school students in Washington have been expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day but it is unclear how many actually do and if they are taught the history and reasons of why they are reciting it.

According to the Revised Code of Washington (28A.230.140), “…appropriate flag exercises to be held in each classroom at the beginning of the school day... at which exercises those pupils so desiring shall recite the following salute to the flag: ‘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.’”

The bill died after failing to receive support from Democrats, who hold the majority in the legislature.

McCune said, "There's a certain sector of people who really do not like this country anymore and they want to change it to a different type of country. And this country, even though it has its problems over the years, it is a beautiful country."

In January, 7th grade Eatonville Middle School student Elijah Whatley at a Senate committee hearing urged lawmakers to pass the bill. “The other day, my friend kept repeating the word ‘ravioli’ instead of the actual pledge words. I was annoyed. We have concluded that the reason for this behavior is barely any children understand the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance.”

A 2022 RealClear Opinion Research poll revealed that civic education is a priority over 70 percent of parents including "the principles underlying American politics, such as the history and ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution."

That same year an analysis by the National Assessment of Educational Progress discovered that only 13 percent of 8th graders were proficient in US history.
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